What is Menopause?

What is Menopause?

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Hi! My name is Anne and I am a qualified Naturopath, Clinical Nutritionist, and Western Herbal Medicine Practitioner.

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Nov 26, 2021 Anne Reid

Menopause is a natural journey every woman will travel. For each of us it will be a unique experience.

There is a lot more to this transition than just hormonal changes, although there is a lack of overall education around this final transformation that all women will experience.

Women of earlier generations didn’t talk about it, and there is next to nothing taught about menopause at school. It has been treated as a bit of a taboo subject.  

“Menopause is a natural part of a woman’s life cycle.”

Mother Nature has provided us with some wonderful tools in the form of herbs. Herbs have been used traditionally to help balance hormones and reduce any symptoms you may experience. They also nourish the body and nervous system to help ease you through this ‘meno-morphosis’.

To be able to understand this transition you really need to know what is going with your body.  

Menopause is defined as 12 consecutive months of no menses following the final menstrual period. The word itself is literally from mono (month, menses) plus pauses (pause, cessation).

This is when the ovarian activity has finished, and menstruation has permanently ceased.

The average age of menopause is estimated to be between 50 and 52, though the range can be from 40 to 58.

As we are all unique, some women can reach menopause in their 30's (premature) and some in their 60's.

There are many factors that influence the age we experience the transition from perimenopause to menopause. These can include things like smoking, whether we have had children, genetic and environmental factors, and increased body mass.

 Menopause has 3 stages:

Perimenopause - is the stage immediately before menopause. This stage starts with changes in the menstrual cycle and as stated above ends 12 months after the final menstrual cycle.

At the beginning of this transition, the menstrual cycle begins to vary. This may see you have a 20–21-day cycle instead of the usual 28-day cycle. Later in the perimenopausal stage, the cycle will lengthen, and you may start to have two or more missed menses in a year.

Daily journaling of your menstrual cycle, noting down any changes or new symptoms, is a good way to keep up with what your body and hormones are doing.

"Menopause is ultimately puberty in reverse."

The average age of onset of this stage is around 47-48 years with this transition lasting around four years. Perimenopause can last for as long as 10 years for some women.

Menopause - is just the definition of 12 months without a menstrual bleed.

Post-menopause - is the time after menopause and continues until the end of life. This is the same for natural or medically induced menopause.

This stage of our lives is ultimately puberty in reverse. When you transitioned from a child into a fertile teenager, you experienced unpredictable menses, acne, mood swings and tiredness. As you move out of your fertile years, you once again experience hormonal fluctuations. You may see many of the same symptoms as well as hot flushes, insomnia, poor memory, and concentration.

"Initially hormone imbalance is cause by the decline of progesterone"

The biological changes occurring during this menopause include:

 The number of ovarian eggs you are born with are reaching very low levels and there is a loss of follicles in the ovaries.

 Ovarian levels of oestradiol, progesterone and testosterone start to decrease and fluctuate which then causes our menses cycle length to also fluctuate, shorten and then eventually lengthen.

Initially, progesterone levels begin to decline in contrast to oestrogen which is where we can see an imbalance.

The later stage (closer to menopause) is where the lengthening cycle begins, this is due to declining oestrogen levels (when oestrogen levels decline the uterine lining is not able to build up enough tissue and therefore it ceases to produce a menses).

So, that is a short definition of the menopause transition.

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About the author

Hi! My name is Anne and I am a qualified Naturopath, Clinical Nutritionist, and Western Herbal Medicine Practitioner.

Learn More

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