Menopause is a natural part of the aging process.

As a woman ages, her body no longer produces the two hormones that are responsible for fertility, progesterone and estrogen. As a result, she will no longer have periods, and menopause is officially confirmed after a full twelve-month period without menstruation. Although the average age for women to begin menopause is fifty-one, some women may experience it earlier, and this is called premature menopause. It is thought that genes are what determine when a woman enters menopause. Luckily, menopause doesn’t just happen all at once. The following is a list from our OBGYN Bradenton of the three stages of menopause:

Perimenopause

Changing levels of ovarian hormones in the body result in perimenopause, which is the earliest stage of menopause where menstrual cycles haven’t stopped yet, but they are irregular. Because menstruation still occurs during perimenopause, women can still become pregnant. Many women experience perimenopause around the age of forty-seven.

Menopause

A woman’s final period marks the beginning of menopause. As we stated earlier, fifty-one is the average age that women reach menopause, but it can happen to some women as early as their thirties. Typically, you will reach menopause at the same time as your mom did. It is also important to note that women who smoke tend to reach menopause a couple years earlier than women that don’t.

Postmenopause

Just as the name suggest, postmenopause is the period of time that occurs after menopause, in other words, after you haven’t had a period for a full year. Postmenopause will last for the rest of your life. Since your body is only producing a small amount of estrogen during this stage, you are at a higher risk for some diseases, like osteoporosis.