As we move through hormonal changes, so many women ask “How do I know if I’m in menopause?” That’s because the symptoms you’re dealing with today can be frustrating and confusing. And so is the uncertainty of what’s coming next!
Some of the confusion is because there’s no single moment when you enter menopause. Instead, it’s a gradual transition through perimenopause (the time leading up to menopause) to menopause, which is defined as one year after your last period.
When does menopause start?
Hormonal changes take place from age 35-55
By the time many women “officially” start menopause, they’ve been experiencing symptoms for some time — ranging from several months to more than 10 years. That’s because your hormones start to shift and fluctuate long before your period stops.
Where are you in this transition? Take a look at the chart below to see a rough progression of the hormonal changes that may be taking place in your body right now. Remember, that every woman is unique, and that the severity and frequency of symptoms depends a great deal on how much support a woman is giving her body.
Are you in perimenopause or menopause? Take a look at your individual symptoms
You may not realize that in addition to hot flashes, night sweats, and even vaginal dryness, there are many other symptoms connected to hormonal changes, such as anxiety. What’s more, because there aren’t accurate medical tests to determine whether you’re in perimenopause or menopause, the best way to know is to take a look at the number and severity of the symptoms you are experiencing.
How many symptoms are you experiencing as a result of menopause or perimenopause? Take a look at the symptom list below. You may also want to take our short Menopause & Perimenopause Quiz to better understand how your symptoms are affecting your life and what you can do to feel better.
Symptoms of perimenopause and menopause
- Irregular periods
- Hot flashes and/or night sweats
- PMS-like symptoms (cramps, bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, and/or irritability)
- Sleep difficulties
- Fatigued and/or have loss of energy
- Feeling sad, moody or overwhelmed
- Feeling anxious, having anxiety attacks or temporary heart palpitations
- Feeling forgetful, fuzzy minded or confused
- Irritability or just not feeling like yourself
- Bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation or nausea
- Stiff or achy joints
- Weight gain, especially around the middle
- Loss of libido or a change in sexual desire
- Vaginal dryness
- Cravings (sweets, carbohydrates, etc.)
- Thinning hair or hair loss
Menopause — or not — you can feel the way you want
Whether you believe you’re close to menopause, in perimenopause or not, we encourage you to focus on finding the way to feel your best.
Think of your symptoms simply as messages from your body. They’re communicating that something is out of balance. What’s important for you to know is that there’s a lot you can do to support your body naturally to regain balance. As you do this, you will decrease your symptom frequency and severity (and in some cases even regain normal periods and cycles) so you can get back to your life.
No matter where you are in your hormonal journey, we’ll meet you half way to provide all the tools you need to feel your best again.
Ojeda, Linda. 2000. Menopause Without Medicine, revised 4th edition, 28-34, CA: Hunter House Publishers.
2 Lovick, TA. 2012. Estrous cycle and stress: influence of progesterone on the female brain. Braz J Med Biol Res, 45(4), 314-320. URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22450372.
3 Freeman, EW. 2005. The role of anxiety and hormonal changes in menopausal hot flashes. Menopause, 12(3), 258-66. URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15879914.
4 Prior, JC. 2012. Midlife Middle—Own the Power of Naming. URL: http://www.cemcor.ubc.ca/Help_yourself/Articles/Midlife_Muddle