Menopause Stages Defined


Menopause is generally defined as a woman’s final menstrual period. It marks the end of fertility. The average age of menopause among American women is 51. Smokers may experience menopause up to 2 years earlier than their non-smoking counterparts.

Perimenopause occurs typically 6 years or more prior to menopause, as estrogen levels in the body begin to decline. At perimenopause, many women begin noticing physical changes. These can include irregular periods, vaginal dryness and sleeping difficulty.

Premature menopause is natural menopause at or about age 40. It is thought to be a genetic condition or can be caused by certain medical procedures.

Postmenopause represents the years after menopause. Due to increased life expectancy, a woman may spend one-third or more of her life postmenopausally. Research suggests that postmenopausal women are more confident, empowered and energized. It can be an exciting phase of life.


American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Menopause RX

Minkin, et al (1997), What Every Woman Needs to Know about Menopause

National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF)

North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Various Publications

Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause (2006)

U.S. National Institute on Aging (NIA)

U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH)

U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

Next: How Your Body Changes

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