Menopause is a milestone of women’s health. But how do you know if you’re going through menopause (perimenopause) or have passed it (post-menopause)? Learn more about how menopause is diagnosed and how you can support yourself through this phase naturally.
- There are four stages that women go through: Pre-menopause, perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause
- Menopausal symptoms occur as a natural shift in hormone production with age
- There are ways to support your hormones naturally to promote a smooth transition from one hormonal phase to the next
What are the female hormones and what do they do?
There are two major female hormones:
|Mainly by the ovaries, to a lesser extent by the adrenal glands and fat cells
|Effects include regulating the menstrual cycle; maintaining: muscles and connective tissue, heart and blood vessels, brain, bones, skin, and hair.
|Mainly by the corpus luteum in the ovaries, to a lesser extent by the adrenal glands
|Prepares the uterine lining for pregnancy; maintaining pregnancy; and supporting thyroid function, mood, and breastmilk production.
The stages of menopause
There are generally four stages of female hormones in a woman’s lifetime:
- Premenopause: This is the period of time when both estrogen and progesterone are sufficient in levels to produce regular menstrual cycles and to support a potential pregnancy.
- Perimenopause: This means “around menopause,” which begins when periods become less regular, typically around a woman’s 40s.
- Menopause: This stage starts from the last menstrual period until the post-menopausal stage, 12 months later. This stage is typically when menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and sleeplessness are most intense.
- Post-menopause: This stage comes after 12 consecutive months without a period.
What happens during menopause?
During perimenopause, the ovaries down-shift their production of estrogen and progesterone. When levels of these hormones are no longer optimal to produce a regular menstrual cycle, menopause starts, and so can the symptoms of menopause.
Typical symptoms that occur during menopause as a result of these hormonal changes are:
- hot flashes
- low energy
- low libido
- vaginal dryness
- night sweats
- weight gain
- mood changes
Although these symptoms are common, they’re not normal, and there are ways to support your hormonal transition without experiencing intense symptoms that disrupt your day-to-day life.
Treatment options for menopause
Treatment starts with proper assessment of your hormone levels, understanding your body’s ideal hormone levels, and how to manage your symptoms as you go through menopause.
Depending on your case, your healthcare provider may suggest one or a combination of the following:
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Lifestyle modifications
- Stress management
- Natural remedies, such as botanical medicines
- Other supportive therapies, such as acupuncture