The word “menopause” literally means a pause in the menses… Only it’s not really a pause in menstrual cycles, like during pregnancy, but a complete cessation in monthly bleeding. It happens to 100% of all women by a certain age. The range is 40-60 years old, but the average woman stops menstruating around 50-51.

Why do women have annoying hot flashes, vaginal dryness and lack of libido when they are peri-menopausal? It has to do with the hormone estrogen…specifically lower levels of estrogen. Women don’t stop producing estrogen after menopause, but the estrogen they do produce is only 1/10th as strong as the estrogen women produce during their reproductive years.

Here are some symptoms attributed to peri-menopause/menopause:

  • Hot flash/flush
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Skin/hair changes
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Bleeding irregularities
  • Forgetfulness
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Nervousness
  • Joint & muscle pain

The years when the body is readjusting from a strong estrogen to a weaker estrogen is called peri-menopause, and this period generally lasts between 3-5 years. Most women stop having hot flashes after this period of time, although 10% of women have hot flashes into their 60’s and 70’s. The other symptoms listed above persist or decrease in varying degrees based on a woman’s general fitness level, how much muscle and fat she has, diet and hereditary factors.

Read about menopause treatment.