The female reproductive life cycle

There are four periods of hormonal changes that occur during a woman’s life.

These include:

  • premenopause
  • perimenopause
  • menopause
  • postmenopause

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Premenopause is the term for a woman’s reproductive life while she’s fertile. It begins at puberty, starting with the first menstrual period and ending with the last.

This phase lasts for approximately 30-40 years.

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Perimenopause literally means “around menopause.” During this time, estrogen levels become erratic and progesterone levels decline.

A woman may start perimenopause anytime between her mid-30s and early 50s, but this transition typically occurs in her 40s and lasts 4–11 years.

Symptoms of perimenopause include:

  • hot flashes and heat intolerance
  • sleep disturbances
  • menstrual cycle changes
  • headaches
  • mood changes, such as irritability
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • weight gain

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Menopause officially occurs once a woman hasn’t had a menstrual period for 12 months. The average age of menopause is 51 years.

Up until then, she’s considered perimenopausal.

Many women experience their worst symptoms during perimenopause, but others find that their symptoms intensify in the first year or two after menopause.

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Postmenopause begins immediately after a woman has gone 12 months without a period. The terms menopause and postmenopause are often used interchangeably.

However, there are some hormonal and physical changes that may continue to occur after menopause.


Source: Healthline