Menopause is a natural biological process for every woman. The menopause transition is marked by physical symptoms that can be bothersome and scary for many women. This article will address the question of when does menopause begin and share the signs you should look out for.
When does menopause begin?
Before answering the question of when menopause begins you need to know why it happens. Well, as you age, the ovaries stop producing oestrogen and progesterone, the hormones that regulate menstrual periods.
Menopause usually occurs on average at the age of 51. However, it can also occur in women aged 40 or younger. When this is the case, it is called premature menopause. When it occurs between the ages of 40 and 45, it is called early menopause (Pinkerton, 2021).
Now that we have answered the question of when does menopause begin, it is time to learn about hormonal changes.
What hormonal changes occur during menopause?
The hormonal changes before and during menopause are linked to the gradual decrease in oestrogen and progesterone levels. A few years before menopause, the ovaries decrease oestrogen production until they stop producing them completely. Thus, during this time, also known as perimenopause, oestrogen levels rise and fall irregularly.
This means that periods can be lengthened or shortened until the total absence of menstruation occurs. Also, you could start to experience some of the main symptoms of menopause, such as hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and mood swings (FDA, 2019; Mayo Clinic, 2021b).
We have answered the questions: when does menopause begin, why does it happen and what are hormonal changes, so it is time for you to know the five signs that will help you identify when menopause is near.
5 signs to identify when does menopause begin
Changes in your menstrual cycle
If you’re still asking yourself when does menopause begin, changes in your period are usually one of the first signs to appear. You may bleed more or less than usual, or your period may even lengthen or shorten. These changes are common, but hormonal changes can also impact the risk of some chronic diseases. Therefore, you should always see medical advice when you’re expericing irregular periods (NIA, 2017; OAS, 2018).
Among the different symptoms of menopause, hot flushes are one of the most common. Hot flushes are a sudden sensation of heat in the body, producing redness in the neck and face. Red spots may even appear on the chest, back, and arms, followed by heavy sweating and chills.
Hot flushes can last even years after menopause, and they can be very mild or strong and last between 30 seconds to 10 minutes. They can occur several times a day or occasionally (NIA, 2017).
When oestrogen levels begin to drop, there is a rise in the hormone cortisol. As a consequence, adrenaline levels rise. This generates well-known digestive problems before and during menopause. Signs include abdominal swelling, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, indigestion, vomiting, changes in appetite, heartburn, and weight loss or gain (Preidt, 2021).
Another symptom of the onset of menopause is dryness of the vagina. Also, the vaginal tissue may become thinner and less elastic. This can cause you to experience pain, soreness, or discomfort in the pelvic floor during intercourse. You can even present nocturia, which is the frequent need to urinate at night (NIA, 2017; Planned Parenthood, n.d.).
Menopause can cause sudden mood swings, and you might feel more irritable near this stage. Alterations in hormone levels, stress, and changes in your family dynamics such as – children get older, and so do parents- are some of the reasons why you may feel irritable, anxious, or tired (NIA, 2017; Planned Parenthood, n.d.).
Now that you have an answer to the question when does menopause begin and you know how to identify it, it’s time to prepare for it. You can do this by eating a balanced diet, drinking enough water, exercising, and practicing relaxation techniques.
Food and Drug Administration [FDA]. (2021). Menopause & Hormones Common Questions. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/free-publications-women/la-menopausia-y-las-hormonas-preguntas-comunes-menopause-hormones-common-questions
Mayo Clinic. (2021a). Menopausia. https://www.mayoclinic.org/es-es/diseases-conditions/menopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20353397
Mayo Clinic. (2021b). Perimenopausia. https://www.mayoclinic.org/es-es/diseases-conditions/perimenopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20354666
MedlinePlus. (2021). Manejo de la menopausia en casa. https://medlineplus.gov/spanish/ency/patientinstructions/000392.htm
National Institute on Aging [NIA]. (2017). ¿Cuáles son las señales y síntomas de la menopausia?. https://www.nia.nih.gov/espanol/cuales-son-senales-sintomas-menopausia
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health [OASH]. (2018). Tu ciclo menstrual y tu salud. Oficina para la Salud de la Mujer. https://espanol.womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle/your-menstrual-cycle-and-your-health
Pinkerton, J. (2021). Menopausia. Manual MSD. https://www.msdmanuals.com/es-co/hogar/salud-femenina/menopausia/menopausia
Planned Parenthood. (s.f.). ¿Cuáles son los síntomas de la menopausia? https://www.plannedparenthood.org/es/temas-de-salud/salud-y-bienestar/menopausia/cuales-son-los-sintomas-de-la-menopausia
Preidt, R. (2021). Gastro Symptoms of Menopause May Vary by Race. Health Day. https://consumer.healthday.com/b-12-8-gastro-symptoms-of-menopause-may-vary-by-race-2655928102.html