The Onset of Menopause
When is the official start of menopause? When the menstrual cycle has ceased for an entire year, menopause has technically begun. The childbearing years are over and a major transition, both physically and psychologically, is already occurring. The most typical and expected age for the onset of this stage is 50, although some women may continue to have a period well into their 50s. Likewise, menopause can start much earlier. If you know at what age your mother and grandmother experienced menopause you may have a good idea of when you will experience these changes.
How long does menopause last? There is no set duration, but keep in mind that once you shift from perimenopause to menopause, you are basically adjusting to new low levels of hormones. Often the symptoms are worse in the first year or so as hormones levels drop. Once estrogen and progesterone levels stabilize at low levels, symptoms may disappear or at least lessen. An average span for perimenopause and menopause together is from age 45 to age 55. Longer or shorter, earlier or longer, you are still healthy and there is nothing wrong with your own individual timetable.
The stage when symptoms decrease is called post-menopause. While this is the end of headaches, trouble sleeping and hot flashes, it is also a time to focus on a healthy diet and have regular visits to see your doctor. A women's body is at a higher risk for serious illnesses including heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis.