The transition to menopause, clinically defined as the final menstrual period, is a gradual process that can take several years. There are a few key signs and symptoms that indicate you may be approaching this milestone.
Irregular periods are very common in the years leading up to menopause, as hormone levels begin to fluctuate. You may experience lighter, heavier, shorter, or longer periods than usual. Or your cycle length may vary quite a bit from month to month. This unpredictability is a hallmark sign of perimenopause, the transitional time before menopause.
You may also begin to experience menopausal symptoms like:
Many women realize they’ve had their last period when they don’t menstruate for 12 consecutive months
. This is the clinical definition of menopause. But keep in mind that some light, irregular bleeding may still occur even after you've gone 12 months without a period.
When to See a Doctor
It's a good idea to make an appointment with your healthcare provider if:
- You have any concerns about changes in your cycle
- You want to discuss managing menopausal symptoms
- You experience bleeding after 12 months without a period
Your doctor can run tests to help confirm that you have in fact transitioned through menopause. Blood tests and pelvic ultrasounds
may be used to check hormone levels and uterine health.
Hormone Therapy Options
Equilibrium Hormone Institute
specializes in natural bioidentical hormone replacement therapy
to help women alleviate unpleasant menopausal symptoms and improve their quality of life. Contact us today to learn more and schedule a consultation.
Now back to determining if your period has stopped for good - be aware that some women can continue to have light periods on and off for a year or more after their cycles appeared to have stopped. This can understandably be confusing and frustrating!
The stages can overlap and vary quite a bit. There's no definitive way to predict precisely when your final period will happen. But the symptoms and changes leading up to menopause provide clues that you’re in the transition phase.
Keeping track of your cycles on a calendar can help give you a sense of what’s “normal” for you. That way you’ll more readily notice when things start to shift as menopause approaches. If you have any concerns, have a discussion with your healthcare provider about what you are experiencing.