Where are you in the change of life? Do you have any idea how long it’s going to be before you enter the next phase? Let’s talk about the different phases of menopause, and how you can identify where you might be.
Phase 1: Premenopause
First, there’s premenopause. This usually occurs in your 30s, but it can be a little bit later for some women. If you’re premenopausal, you’re going to start to notice your periods becoming a little bit irregular, and your PMS becoming a little more exaggerated. This is because your progesterone levels are starting to fall. Usually, it’s because you’re under stress because your adrenal glands actually use progesterone to produce the stress hormone, cortisol. This means that the more stress you’re under, the more likely you’re going to start suffering through the premenopause phase. This is truly the perfect time to start thinking about what you’re going to do when you move through the phases of menopause, and how you’re going to prepare before things go awry.
Phase 2: Perimenopause
The next of the phases of menopause is perimenopause. In perimenopause, your ovaries are definitely running out of eggs, and you’re not ovulating regularly at all. The biggest issue is that you have very low progesterone levels, so you’re not ovulating. With less follicles, you may have classic symptoms of low estrogen-like hot flashes and insomnia, but it’s your low progesterone that causes really irregular or heavy periods. Plus, your PMS is incredibly exaggerated with more mood swings. On top of that, you’re having trouble sleeping and staying calm. That’s what you can look forward to in the perimenopause period, which can last for five to fifteen years. Your falling hormone levels can be an issue for everything – your physical body, your emotional health, your mental health, and your relationships. So having a plan during the perimenopause phase is crucial for gracefully transitioning into menopause with the least amount of collateral damage.
Phase 3: Menopause
The next phase is menopause. Menopause actually means no more periods. You’re officially menopausal when you haven’t had a period for over a year, but for most women, it’s more like two years. But the true indicator of menopause is your FSH – follicle-stimulating hormone. If your follicle-stimulating hormone is over 30 and stays over 30, and you’ve had no periods for well over a year, you are menopausal. Now, if you are under the age of 40, and your FSH is over 30 and you haven’t had periods, that’s called premature ovarian failure. That is a different issue and needs to be addressed as soon as possible if you want to try to maintain any kind of hormonal balance.
Some women are super sensitive to their rising FSH level. I was able to tell when my FSH just rose three points from 24 to 27, because I was more symptomatic. While there are over 40 symptoms associated with menopause, the five classic symptoms are hot flashes, insomnia, weight gain, low sex drive, and mood swings. All of these are because your progesterone and estrogen levels have dropped down to abnormally low levels, and are almost nonexistent. Having a plan to help you decide how to handle these annoying and sometimes life-altering symptoms is key to thriving during the phases of menopause.
Phase 4: Postmenopause
The last phase is postmenopause. In the postmenopause phase, you’re not only estrogen and progesterone deficient, but you’re also testosterone deficient. You’ve been without a period for well over two years, and this phase lasts for the rest of your life. This is why it is so important that you make a plan for the postmenopause phase because this is the time when you’re most likely to begin suffering from chronic illnesses. I’m talking about diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis that are going to limit your function, as well as shorten your life. So, if you’re making a plan as early as premenopause, you’re more likely to age a lot more gracefully. However, it’s still not too late if you’re already postmenopausal to develop a Menopause Action Plan.
Menopause Action Plan
A Menopause Action Plan will help make the best decisions for yourself about treatment, like whether hormone replacement therapy is even a safe option for you. It can also help you determine what supplementation will actually help get your hormones in better balance. There are so many factors to consider – your genetics, your lifestyle, your medical history, your female relatives’ hormone history, and even your belief systems – and they all contribute to how well you’re going to transition through the phases of menopause. So, let me ask you, where are you in the change? Are you premenopausal, perimenopausal, menopausal or postmenopausal? I encourage you to be proactive about your healthy, and sign up to receive my free Menopause Action Plan guide.