Around the age of 40, many women wonder about the possibility of when menopause will start. Perhaps this is around the age when your mother or grandmother started experiencing symptoms. Or, maybe menopause is on your mind because you’re feeling the effects of your current age within your body. 

The truth is, the question of “when will menopause start?” is not one that can be answered concisely. Just as women enter puberty and experience their first period at different ages, the same can be said for menopause. What is helpful, at least, is that an age range can be provided – this way, women can be aware of the possibility of menopause starting within the next few years. And, they may be better able to manage this change when it occurs. 

When does menopause typically start?

You are generally considered to have entered menopause when one calendar year has passed since your last period. But for most women, menopause will begin between the ages of 45 and 55. Before this calendar year has passed, you will be in a stage called perimenopause. This is when women begin experiencing symptoms and their period seemingly stops.

One thing to note is that sometimes, women can experience what is known as a “flash period” or “surprise period,” which is when your period comes after having skipped several months in a row. Many women experience flash periods after having believed that they’ve already finished menstruating permanently. 

What symptoms can I expect during perimenopause?

Common symptoms of perimenopause include those you’ve likely already heard of. Among these are:

  • Mood swings
  • Hot flashes
  • Excessive sweating
  • Libido changes (normally a decrease, but sometimes this can fluctuate)
  • Difficulty sleeping

Lesser known perimenopause symptoms include: 

  • Vaginal dryness
  • Headaches
  • Trouble with concentration
  • Joint/muscle aches
  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling like you have intense premenstrual syndrome (PMS) 

How can I manage symptoms effectively?

It’s important to discuss perimenopause symptoms with your provider because there are ways he or she can assist. This is especially true if you find that symptoms are negatively impacting your quality of life. The good news is that there are medications available to assist with better regulating hormones during perimenopause that can help relieve symptoms.

Many women also introduce lifestyle changes to manage perimenopause, such as: 

  1. Focusing on achieving more comfortable sleep conditions
  2. Working out and stretching to improve muscles and joint aches
  3. Staying well-hydrated to prevent headaches
  4. Planning for and including both backup and comfortable loose clothing, in the event of a hot flash. 

What is premature menopause?

Premature menopause occurs when a woman enters menopause at age 40 or younger. Symptoms typically match those of perimenopause; the main difference is that women are younger than expected when the symptoms appear. Unfortunately, premature menopause can impact a woman’s fertility at an age when she would normally expect to be able to conceive without needing medical intervention. 

Treatment for premature menopause also includes hormone therapy. However, your doctor will need to confirm how severe your individual situation is prior to confirming a path for care. 

Menopause management is offered by the providers of PGOMG. Please consider connecting with your provider in order to review symptoms and discuss improving your quality of life.