Tell a woman that menopause “only lasts one day,” and you may have to duck.
It’s true, though: technically, “menopause” is the one-year anniversary of a person’s last period, and it only lasts one day.
Perimenopause (the time of hormone fluctuation leading up to menopause) and post-menopause last a whole lot longer, and the entire transition can take up to 20 years in some cases.
In common discourse, the term “menopause” has really come to mean the length of the transition, but there’s a danger is using the terms too loosely.
Do any research at all into menopause, and you’ll find all over the Internet that “the average age of menopause in the United States is 51.” So what happens to a 45-year-old woman who starts experiencing heart palpitations, interrupted sleep, or increased anxiety and depression that can come with hormonal fluctuations?
Believing herself too young for anything menopause-related, she thinks, “Something is wrong with me!” At Gennev, we’re heard story after story of women, terrified, going to the ER thinking they’re having a heart attack, only to be sent home confused, embarrassed, and frequently with a prescription for antidepressants.
While we would always advise women who are experiencing frightening changes in their bodies to seek medical attention, we think many women would find the transition a whole lot easier if they had more information heading in to it.
So let’s talk about the stages and what women may experience. However, it’s important to note from the outset that every woman’s experience of peri/menopause is as unique as she is, so your journey may follow a different map from your best friend’s or even your sister’s.
Perimenopause defines the stage of life where a woman’s hormones begin to fluctuate differently than the more predictable rises and falls of her normal cycle. Estrogen levels rise and fall unevenly, and the changes begin.
Despite all sorts of sources across the Internet claiming perimenopause typically lasts “about 4 years,” anything up to 10 years is closer to the truth. Many women enter perimenopause in their early to mid-40s, but the changes can start in a woman’s mid-30s.
In perimenopause, you may notice:
Congratulations! You’ve gone a full 12 months without a period.
While some women may see menopause as an ending – to reproduction, to youth, to sexuality – at Gennev, we see menopause as a beginning to the second chapter of life.
Menopause, in our definition, is an invitation: to take extremely good care of yourself, to try out new things, to indulge your wants and desires, to embrace your sexuality and beauty, and to give a whole lot less importance to others’ opinions of you.
Yes, the symptoms of menopause can be troubling, but there’s no need to let them diminish your quality of life as you step into…
Thanks to longer life expectancies, many women nowadays can expect to live a third (even up to a half!) of their life in menopause.
And this second chapter of life can be rich, fulfilling, active, and vibrant. You just may have to work a little harder to protect your health and quality of life.
In post-menopause, things to be thinking about (and actually, if you’re not there yet, start thinking about them now!):
Twenty years may seem like a prison sentence, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s help for symptoms at every stage, and you’d be surprised at how much better common-sense healthy behaviors can make you feel (eating well, prioritizing sleep, minimizing stress, exercising, hydrating, NOT SMOKING).
At Gennev, we’re committed to helping every woman understand her body better, and you can help us do that. We’d like to invite you to share Gennev with the women you care about, especially younger women. Think about it: how prepared were you? Would it have helped if someone had told 40-year-old you about what was happening or coming soon? If you have shared your knowledge, how did you do it? We’d love to know. Hit us up in our community forums, on our Facebook page, or in Midlife & Menopause Solutions, our closed Facebook group.