Menopause is a biological event that occurs naturally in every woman, although in some cases it can occur because of surgery. Menopause is defined by 12 months of stopped menstrual periods which results in a loss of fertility and an inability to conceive children. The most common reason for menopause is quite simply aging, women between 40-58 years old can enter menopause at anytime, with the average age of menopause being 51 in the US.

Perimenopause: Menopause does not happen immediately, it occurs gradually with periods being erratic and hormone levels decreasing, both estrogen and progesterone production start to decline during this phase. The perimenopause phase will end with the onset of the final menstrual period; this phase can start from 6 years before menopause until a year after the last period. The age women enter into perimenopause varies widely and can occur anytime between 35 – 50 years of age. Conception is possible at this stage and if one wants to prevent pregnancy, contraception is advised. There are medical tests that can determine if you are entering into perimenopause or menopause, so if you are curious, you can have this done to remove any confusion.

Indications and physical changes: Menopause might bring with it some signs and physical changes; it varies from woman to woman. Some may only experience the complete stopping of periods, while others are not so lucky and may get hot flushes or flashes, may have sleep disturbances and night sweats with a chill or just a chill. There may also be vaginal dryness, growth of hair on face and loss or thinning of hair on head. Women might also experience mood swings, the decreased ability to recall things and be prone to stress. Sometimes these signs are just due to aging or a combination of aging and menopause so it is difficult to tell.

Early menopause: When a woman experiences menopause in her 30s it is referred to as early menopause. Besides genetics, there are some factors that can trigger it early such as heavy smoking. Smokers can expect it at least two years earlier than those who do not smoke. Chemotherapy or pelvic radiation for cancer are also possible causes of early menopause. Poor diet, heart diseases and exposure to toxins can also be causes. Women who have had treatment for epilepsy and have had pelvic surgery may also experience early menopause. Menopause can also occur immediately when both ovaries are removed as in a bilateral oophorectomy, this is referred to as medically induced menopause.

Post menopause: After the final menstruation period, a woman is said to be in her postmenopausal phase, which is characterized by inactive ovaries. During the final stages of menopause, a woman might have irregular periods, so only after 12 months of absolutely no menstrual periods is she said to be postmenopausal. In this phase, she has to be careful as she may become prone to osteoporosis and heart diseases.

Understanding Menopause is important. At this time of life, a woman must take care of her diet, her mental health, and her physical health as this is essential for transitioning through menopause in the easiest way possible. It's true that menopause can be troubling for some women, but education and awareness can help make the process a little less overwhelming.