When Does Menopause Start?

When Does Menopause Start?

When does menopause start?

It’s a straightforward question that comes with a frustratingly vague answer: it depends.

While we wish there was a guaranteed menopause age calculator out there to help you prepare, the reality is the age of menopause can differ pretty drastically from woman to woman.

Some women will experience menopause symptoms in their late fifties, others will go through them as early as 40.

That’s not to say we’re not going to do our very best to get you the info you need—all the better to keep you in the driver’s seat of your own journey. 🚙

So, what is the average age of menopause? And how do you know when menopause starts?

Let’s get you in on one of the biggest natural changes your body goes through (with plenty of informative links along the way).

Buckle up, and let’s lean in.

In this article: 📝

  • What happens during menopause?
  • At what age does menopause start?
  • How do you know when menopause starts?
  • What are the 3 stages of menopause?
  • How do you test for menopause?

What happens during menopause?

Reaching menopause essentially means you stop having periods, and you’re no longer able to get pregnant.

It happens as your ovaries naturally stop making as much estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone—the hormones responsible for keeping menstruation going.

Menopause can also come knocking if you’ve had a hysterectomy or if your ovaries have been surgically removed (what’s called surgical menopause.

These hormones will usually decrease gradually from around your late 30s onwards, leading you through a gradual process of stages—starting with perimenopause and ending with postmenopause.

But that specific moment we call menopause will come a little later on.

At what age does menopause start?

According to the North American Menopause Society, the average age for menopause is 51.

But averages like this hide all sorts of nuances and differences.

Most women will experience menopause sometime between the ages of 40 and 58—but it’s possible for it to start later, too.

Menopause can also start much earlier—which, of course, can be highly distressing for women who want to become mothers.

No one quite knows what causes early menopause but about one in 100 women experience menopause before the age of 40.

Can periods just stop at 49?

Technically, they can, but usually, it’s more of a gradual thing than a sudden stop.

Yes, menopause is defined as the exact moment in time you’ve reached 12 months without a menstrual period.

But it’s more the case that your period will become lighter and/or less regular over a couple of years.

Again, nuance is important here.

For women with PCOS, perimenopause symptoms can overlap—including irregular or missed periods.

And research shows that menopause can be delayed by two years for women with PCOS.

What age does period stop?

It can take some time for your periods to stop completely while you’re in perimenopause (or pre-menopause).

Generally, some women’s periods start to get irregular in their late 40s before coming to a stop at about 51.

Again, this is not a hard and fast timeline. It’s not a guarantee when your menstruation cycle will come to an end, but there are signs that you’ve already started heading in that direction.

Speed on down below. 🛣

How do you know when menopause starts?

One of the first signs menopause is fast approaching is a noticeable change in your regular menstrual cycle.

Before this, you may have already been navigating the many perimenopause symptoms we so often catalog under menopause: hot flashes, mood swings, anxiety, insomnia, and night sweats (to name a few).

It becomes menopause when you haven’t had a period in 12 months.

But if you’re experiencing any unusual symptoms, it’s worth speaking with a doctor, just in case it’s something else.

Just because uncomfortable symptoms are expected when approaching menopause doesn’t mean you should be in discomfort, pain, or distress during this transition.

The menopausal transition is natural, yes, but it doesn’t automatically mean every sensation and feeling is.

After all, these symptoms vary and can change from person to person—everyone’s journey of menopause is different (but equally valid).

What are the 3 stages of menopause?

As we’ve briefly mentioned, there are three stages to menopause: perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause.

Let’s give each stage its due:

1. What happens during perimenopause?

Menopause begins with a stretch of about three to five years when your fertility hormones are slowly declining—this is perimenopause.

It usually happens in your late 40s but can happen before or after.

During the perimenopause stage, you may experience some of the classic symptoms, like:

Every woman is unique.

While some women will experience all of the symptoms, others won’t experience any at all.

Both are normal.

Quick note: it may still be possible to get pregnant during perimenopause—harder, yes, but possible.

What is the average age of perimenopause?

While perimenopause can start for some women in their mid to late 30s, the average age is between 40-47.

It’s quite a wide range for an average, but because the symptoms can last for a few years without being detected, it’s tricky to pinpoint exactly when perimenopause starts.

2. The Menopause stage

Ah, the defined “moment” when you’ve gone 12 months without having a period.

Most women will go through menopause at around the age of 51 – ish (emphasis on the ish).

There are some theories that you could start menopause around the same time your mother did.

But, there can also be “random events” in your DNA that cause earlier or later menopause, so it’s hard to tell.

And some lifestyle and medical factors could impact when menopause starts for you, such as smoking, cancer treatments, or ovarian surgery.

Again, it depends.

3. How long does postmenopause last?

So, the final phase of the menopausal transition starts after a year since your last period.

And it’s during this stage of your life when all those symptoms might start to subside.

Good thing, too, because this is the final stage of the journey and very much where you’ll reside for the remaining seasons of your life.

Your body might still have a few things to work through as you settle in from your long journey—you may still experience symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and interrupted sleep for up to a year before things become steady again.

But it’s mainly a time to recuperate and reset yourself.

And getting proactive is one of the best moves you can make to secure your health and well-being.

Some women opt for the hormone replacement therapy (HRT) route and top up their progesterone levels after menopause.

Other women embrace natural treatments and lifestyle switches, like dietary changes or exercise.

How do you test for menopause?

There aren’t really any accurate ways to test for menopause.

While tests that track your FSH levels claim to test for menopause, they’re not often accurate, as our FSH levels fluctuate at different points in our menstrual cycles.

While menopause on average starts around the age of 51 (according to the stats), you may well have been experiencing hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, or joint pain for a few years already by that point.

Again, it’s all part of your declining hormone levels during that period known as perimenopause.

Ultimately, the best way to “test” for menopause is to keep track of any unusual symptoms and visit your doctor.

And if you haven’t had a period for 12 months (and you’re not pregnant), you may have finally arrived at destination menopause.

The experience of menopause can be challenging for all sorts of reasons—the impact on our mind, body, and even sexuality.

If you have concerns, you can always meet with your healthcare provider.

And with the Peanut community, you can meet, chat, and learn from like-minded women day and night.

We’re here to support you.

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