Menopause begins twelve months after your last period. This happens when a female is no longer able to reproduce, at this point she is considered postmenopausal. Menopause can be understood better as the changing over from fertility to infertility. This is what women understand as going through menopause. However this period of transition is really perimenopause or premenopause.
The beginning of perimenopause starts when females ovaries begin producing less estrogen and testosterone. This change that your body is experiencing happens slowly, sometimes over a duration of ten years. Perimenopause begins to happen as fertility starts to decline and hormone levels are lower, most women experience this decline in their late thirties.
The hormone progesterone is responsible for keeping ovaries fertile, and when progesterone levels begin to fall, ovaries lose their fertility. When this begins to occur, it can be the onset of perimenopause.
However, most women do not recognize this happening until they experience the physical symptoms of decreased hormone production. Perhaps the most well known symptom of perimenopause is the hot flash! Because of advancement of medical technology and increase in life expectancy, most women will live long enough to have menopause happen to them! Hot flashes are a common occurrence that people are familiar with today.
The way hot flashes affect women differs from person to person. To some women hot flashes feel like just a warm blush, but for other women hot flashes can be so intense and out of the blue that you may have to pull over when driving. Some people experience such strong hot flashes that it will wake them up out of their sleep.
The duration of hot flashes varies, and can last from thirty seconds to five minutes. The frequency of hot flashes is also specific to the individual, but one thing is for sure: hot flashes are the only symptom of the transitional from fertility to infertility.
The bad news is, this transitional, or perimenopausal stage, can last over ten years. These ten years in themselves will be filled with stages and cycles as you go from full to no fertility. It is usually later in perimenopause that a woman begins to experience hot flashes.
Perhaps the first sign of a decline in hormone production is the change in the menstrual cycle. These are very different between individuals, so it can be difficult to identify if the change is due to perimenopause.
Usually after taking into consideration all the combined symptoms a diagnosis can be concluded. Women can experience a heavier period during this time and other women may have a lighter one.
The frequency of periods may vary from person to person as well, a woman may have her period often and others may find that theirs is less and less. Another symptom that can happen is spotting in between periods or missing periods completely.