Perimenopause, menopause, post menopause – you’re probably aware of these terms but do you know how they apply to you or even how to recognise which stage you’re experiencing?

Your menopause experience has three specific stages:

Perimenopause literally meaning “around menopause” is where it all begins.

It’s the bumpy hormonal road leading to your final period and can start anytime from around the age of 35 as your progesterone levels start to drop and your oestrogen levels follow suit.

The typical perimenopause experience:

  • Grumpy – when did you get so cross about everything? Does it really matter if your kids or partner don’t stack the dishwasher as efficiently as you do.
  • Sleepy – you don’t sleep as well as you used to whether that’s because you have to get up and pee three or four times a night or because the night sweats have got you.
  • Itchy – your skin seems so dry and scratchy and that’s because the surface and the underlying muscles are thinning.
  • Sweaty – night sweats and day time hot flushes are the most common cause of distress for women in their 40s and 50s.
  • Bloated – menopause weight gain! Where did that extra 10lbs comes from and why is it all sitting around your middle?
  • Moody – one minute you’re happily getting on with your day and the next you’re weeping because you only got 4 likes on your facebook post.
  • Forgetful – you open the cupboard door or walk into a room only to realize you have no idea what you’re looking for. So frustrating and directly related to your hormone imbalance.

It may seem like you’re suddenly losing the plot but actually these changes have been sneaking up on you for years and you’re heading straight towards menopause.

And menopause?

Well here’s the thing, menopause is actually officially only one day long!

It’s the day of your last period, but because at the time you won’t know its your last period menopause is medically defined as 12 months after your last period.

Your sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone are now at very low levels and your ovaries aren’t producing eggs.

After that one day you are officially post menopause

Your perimenopause symptoms should become less frequent and intense although there’s no guarantee they’ll stop altogether.

How long does all this go on for?

Well like I said your oestrogen and progesterone levels start to decline from around the age of 35 but your symptoms and their severity vary from woman to woman.

Some lucky women barely notice a thing, some have a couple of years of it and some suffer for up to 20 years.

But actually you don’t have to suffer in silence or otherwise.

Your menopause experience is personal to you and it’s your choice as to how you manage it.

Pop back next week and find out how I’m managing my menopause experience.