By Sophia McLean – PT, DPT
Menopause typically has a negative reputation in our society. While there is a sense of solidarity among us because nearly every woman experiences it, menopause is often characterized as a disease to survive rather than a natural process to experience. It can also be a difficult transition for many women given the implications on fertility or physical changes that occur.
On the other hand, some women welcome it. While everyone’s journey is unique, recent research suggests that we have more control over our experience of menopause than we think. Specifically, the more information we have about menopause, the less of a negative effect it has on our lives! In other words, knowledge is very much power, especially in preparation for this stage of life, but also at any point in your journey.
First, let’s start with some definitions for clarity:
- Menopause is the point in time where a woman has not had her period for 12 months, which occurs at the average age of 51.
- Perimenopause is the period of 2 to 10 years before menopause during which changes in progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone hormone levels occur.
- Post-menopause is the period of time after menopause.
Next, here’s a brief outline of the hormonal changes that occur:
- Progesterone levels are the first to change, typically during the perimenopause period. This hormone contributes to sleep, calmness (anti-anxiety), and pain processing.
- Estrogen levels remain relatively stable until the year before the last menstrual period (the end of peri