Reviewed by Dr. Sarah Stone, ND and Dr. Scott Maymon, ND, MPH

Menopause marks a significant transition in a woman’s life, signifying the end of her reproductive period. It’s a natural biological process, but the symptoms can be challenging for many.

If you’re in your 40s and noticing some changes in your body, you might be wondering if you’ve started the menopause transition. 

It would be great if a menopause age calculator existed that could predict when it will start. Unfortunately, this cannot be predicted because so many factors are at play.

In this four part blog series, we will explore various aspects of menopause and its impact on women’s health.  Let’s begin with the basics of what menopause is and how to identify if you’ve started this phase.

What is Menopause?

Menopause officially begins when a woman has not had a menstrual cycle for 12 months. It’s preceded by a phase called perimenopause, which can last for several years, during which symptoms begin due to fluctuating hormone levels.

The average age for menopause in the United States is 51, but it can start as early as the 40s or as late as the 60s.

When menopause starts, a woman’s body undergoes significant hormonal changes, primarily involving estrogen and progesterone—two hormones critical for reproductive activities.

During the reproductive years, these hormones regulate menstruation and ovulation. However, as a woman approaches menopause, the ovaries gradually produce less estrogen and progesterone, leading to a decline in fertility and the cessation of menstrual periods.

This decrease in hormone production is not always steady or predictable, resulting in the wide array of symptoms associated with menopause.

Symptoms of Menopause To Watch For

The transition to menopause can vary widely among women, but some common symptoms to watch for include:

  • Hot flashes: Sudden feelings of warmth, which are often most intense over the face, neck, and chest. These can lead to sweating, chills, and even heart palpitations in some cases.
  • Irregular periods: One of the first signs of entering perimenopause; periods may become less frequent, unpredictable, heavier or lighter than usual.
  • Sleep problems: Including difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep, night sweats, and waking up earlier than desired.
  • Mood changes: Feelings of irritability, mood swings, and increased risk of depression during the menopause transition.
  • Vaginal dryness: Leading to discomfort during intercourse, along with itching or burning sensations. This condition is due to decreased estrogen levels.
  • Bladder control issues: Including urinary urgency (an urgent need to urinate), more frequent urination, or urinary incontinence (leakage of urine).
  • Thinning hair and dry skin: Changes in estrogen levels can lead to thinner hair and drier skin, affecting a woman’s physical appearance and sometimes her self-esteem.
  • Decreased libido: A reduction in sexual desire or drive, often accompanying the changes mentioned above and primarily related to hormonal shifts.
  • Weight gain: Particularly around the abdomen, this symptom is associated with the hormonal changes of menopause as well as aging.
  • Memory Problems: Some women may experience mild memory problems or difficulty concentrating during perimenopause, although this is not a consistent symptom.

Traditional Treatment Options

The most common treatment for menopause symptoms is hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which involves taking synthetic estrogen and progesterone to replace declining levels in the body.

HRT can be effective in reducing symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and mood changes. However, when not prescribed and monitored appropriately, it can have potential health risks.

The hormones are administered in various forms, including troches, pills, skin patches, gels, pellets, and creams.

Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy

Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) offers a more natural alternative to conventional HRT. Unlike synthetic hormones used in traditional treatments, bioidentical hormones have the same molecular structure as those produced by the body, making them a safer and more effective option.

BHRT involves an individualized approach, with hormone levels being monitored and tailored to each woman’s unique needs. It can help alleviate menopause symptoms like hot flashes, sleep problems, mood changes, and vaginal dryness while reducing the risk of potential side effects associated with traditional HRT.

We will do a deep dive into bioidentical hormone replacement therapy in the second blog of this series.

Menopause can bring about a variety of physical and emotional changes that can be challenging for women. However, with the right knowledge and treatment options, women can manage these symptoms and continue to live happy, healthy lives.

At Pure Body Health, we offer a personalized approach to menopause management through bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and other natural therapies. We believe in empowering women to take control of their health and well-being during this new phase of life.

If you are searching for ‘bioidentical hormone replacement therapy near me,’ or a ‘naturopath for menopause near me,’ we can help. Call (480) 427-0442 to book an appointment or complete the online inquiry form.

FAQ About Menopause

What signals the end of menopause?

The “end” of menopause is typically marked by the absence of menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months. This signifies that a woman has reached postmenopause, the final stage of the menopausal transition. However, some women may still experience symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness even after reaching postmenopause.

What is surgical menopause?

Surgical menopause refers to menopause that is induced by the surgical removal of both ovaries, also known as a bilateral oophorectomy. This procedure causes an abrupt decline in hormone levels and can lead to more severe menopause symptoms than natural menopause.

What is the most common reason for bleeding after menopause?

The most common cause of bleeding after menopause is hormonal fluctuations. As hormone levels decline during menopause, the lining of the uterus may become thinner and less stable, leading to occasional spotting or light bleeding. However, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider if you experience any postmenopausal bleeding as it can also be a sign of more serious conditions like endometrial hyperplasia or cancer. 

What is the difference between perimenopause and menopause?

Perimenopause is the transitional period leading up to menopause, during which a woman’s body begins to produce less estrogen and progesterone, causing changes in menstruation and fertility. Menopause officially starts when a woman has gone 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period.

How do I know if I am in early menopause?

Early menopause is defined as menopause occurring before the age of 45. Signs of early menopause can include irregular periods, hot flashes, night sweats, and mood changes. If you suspect you may be experiencing early menopause, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment options.