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When Does Menopause Start?

There is no clear starting or ending point for your menopause journey. Every women will have their own journey. This article will run you through the stages of your menopause and when you may begin to experience your symptoms.

There is no clear starting or ending point for your menopause journey. When it begins for you, however, is completely dependent on your own body. Every women will have their own story.

There are 34 recognised symptoms of menopause. These symptoms range from mild to severe and each women will experience their own mix and match of them.

Perimenopause - symptoms before your periods stop

Before you experience menopause, you will go through a transition period. This is your first hint that your body is beginning to change. This is also known as perimenopause. You may begin to notice some physical symptoms. Common symptoms experienced include hot flashes, mood swings and vaginal dryness. Often women notice their periods change too - either getting lighter or heavier, or more spaced out.

On average, perimenopause will last for about 4 years before your menopause begins. But this is a very loose time table. Perimenopause can begin up to 10 years before your menopause, or it can be only a few months. But remember, everyone experiences menopause differently.

Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) - menopause under 40

POI is a condition where your ovaries stop functioning properly before the age of 40. To put it simply, this is known as premature menopause. This will cause women to begin their menopause at a younger age than most.

The average age of early onset is about 27 years. 1 in every 1000 women between the ages of 15-29 and 1 in every 100 women between the ages of 30-39 are affected by POI.

Women with POI will commonly begin to have irregular periods very early on. In a short time, periods stop altogether. They may also experience symptoms close to that of menopause. This includes your hot flashes and vaginal dryness.

POI is primarily focused on your oestrogen levels. They begin to drop fast. Physical symptoms, however, may not be seen in all women who experience this. Getting a diagnosis is important as lower levels of oestrogen can significantly impact your bone strength. If left untreated, POI can cause bones to weaken and often the impact of this will be felt later on. HRT if often given to women who have POI to boost up their oestrogen levels and help maintain bone strength.

If you are at risk for POI, you should speak with your healthcare professional about how to move forward.

Early Menopause - periods stopping between 40-45

Early menopause occurs if you experience menopausal changes before the age of 45. Today, 5 in every 100 of women are affected by early menopause.

The typical symptoms will also be noticed with early menopause. This generally begins with irregular periods. Women can often self-diagnose their early menopause based on the timing of symptoms.

Early menopause does not mean that there is anything wrong with your body. It does not require treatment. However, there are steps you can take to address the symptoms you are experiencing.

Menopause - periods stopping between 45-55

You have been through menopause 12 months after your last menstrual period. Providing there are no other medical reasons for your periods stopping.

Generally, menopause happens between the ages 45-55. The average age for menopause in the UK is 51. Women who did not experience symptoms during their perimenopause will sometimes get them at this time. The physical and emotional signs can be scary, but it is a normal reaction to menopause. 70% of women experience some form of menopausal symptom - so you are not alone.

References

Huizen, J., 2019. At What Age Does Menopause Start?. [online] Healthline.
Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/menopause-age [Accessed 26 May 2020].

Menopause.org. n.d. How Will I Know I'm In Menopause? Menopause Stages, Symptoms, & Signs | The North American Menopause Society, NAMS. [online]
Available at: https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/are-we-there-yet-navigate-now-with-our-guided-menopause-tour [Accessed 25 May 2020].

Cleveland Clinic. n.d. Menopause, Perimenopause And Postmenopause. [online]
Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15224-menopause-perimenopause-and-postmenopause [Accessed 26 May 2020].

RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. n.d. Premature Ovarian Failure (POF). [online].
Available at: https://resolve.org/infertility-101/medical-conditions/premature-ovarian-failure/ [Accessed 26 May 2020].