What Every Woman Should Know about Menopause

 

Menopause is a natural phase of life that is often described as puberty in reverse or as the change. During menopause a woman’s ovaries stop producing eggs, which results in falling levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Menopause is a continuum that includes three important stages that will last between one-third to one-half of an average woman’s life: perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause.

Stages of Menopause

Perimenopause

Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause and can last anywhere from six to eight years. During perimenopause estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate – sometimes dramatically – leading to many symptoms that can have a negative impact on health and quality of life. Most women are in perimenopause between the ages of 40 and 50.

Menopause

Menopause is a milestone that happens when a woman has not had a menstrual period for one year. Fifty-one is the average age of menopause in Canada, with most women reaching menopause between the ages of 45 and 55.

An early menopause is considered to occur between the ages of 40 and 45 years old, and a late menopause between 55 and 60. Going through menopause before the age of 40 is described as premature menopause.

  • 1 in 100 women go through menopause before the age of 40.
  • 1 in 1,000 before the age of 30.
  • 1 in 10,000 before the age of 20.

Menopause occurs immediately if both ovaries are surgically removed (bilateral oophorectomy). Surgery to remove the uterus (hysterectomy) does not cause menopause if the ovaries are left in place, although periods will stop. Women who have had a hysterectomy will start menopause two to three years earlier, on average, than women who have not. Surgical menopause can cause menopausal symptoms that are more frequent and severe than those experienced during natural menopause.[i]  Medical menopause can be caused by chemotherapy, radiation or ovarian suppression therapy.

[i]O’Brien K, Uzelac A, Lim J, Christakis M, Shirreff L. Surgical Menopause. Gynaecology Quality Improvement Collaboration: v12.22.2021.

Postmenopause

Every day after reaching menopause is considered postmenopause. Women are postmenopausal for the rest of their lives; many perimenopausal symptoms tend to subside in women several years after menopause, but for others they can continue for decades. With the significant postmenopausal drop in estrogen, a woman’s risk for heart disease, osteoporosis and the genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) increase. Menopause is often used to describe the postmenopausal phase as people will often say “I’m in menopause”.

Learn More About the Basics of Menopause

Select Videos on Menopause

Experts on menopause and women’s health share factual information about menopause, menopause hormone therapy (HRT), non-hormonal therapies, and other treatment options, along with discussions about symptoms such as hot flashes (or hot flushes), mood changes, bone loss (osteoporosis), brain fog, trouble sleeping, and more.

More Than Hot Flashes (International Menopause Society)

How will it affect my health?

Little BIG Talk: Menopause and Hormone Therapy

Treatment of Hot Flashes and Night Sweats with HRT

What is Menopause Hormone Therapy?

Is Menopausal Hormone Therapy (HRT) Safe?

Complementary Therapies

Complementary and Alternative Therapies Explained

The Menopause Blues

Testosterone and Women