Menopause and perimenopause

What is menopause?

Surprisingly to many, menopause is actually just one day. It is the day that marks the 12 month anniversary of your last menstrual cycle, and also signifies the end of your menstrual cycle. Definitely a day to celebrate for many women!

Menopause is a natural and biological process that all women will undergo.

Most women in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, with the average woman being 51 years old. Approximately 1% of Australia women reach menopause when they are 40 years old. And then there are women like my friend who is 56 who still gets her period like clockwork every 28 days.

menopause and perimenopause

#Menopause is just one day - it marks the 12 month anniversary since your last period. Click To Tweet

As you might expect, there has been a lot of research done around when women undergo menopause. Some research findings include:

  • women living in developing countries (including Latin America, Indonesia, Singapore, Pakistan, Chile, and Peru) experience natural menopause several years earlier than those in developed countries
  • women living in urban areas have a later natural menopause than women in rural areas
  • women living at high altitude in the Himalayas or in the Andes of Peru undergo natural menopause 1 to 1.5 years earlier than those living at lower altitudes or in less rural areas
  • some studies have reported that African American and Latina women have natural menopause about 2 years earlier than white women.
  • a small study in Nigeria reported the average age at menopause to be 52.8 years, over 1 year later than that generally reported for white women in industrialised nations
  • Asian women tend to have similar age at menopause to Caucasian women, although Thai women have been reported to have a lower median age at menopause, at age 49.5 years, and Filipino Malay women have been reported to have an earlier average age at natural menopause at 47 to 48 years.

There are also other factors such as socio-economic related status, health (reproductive and other), body mass and composition, family history, whether you smoke, how much exercise you do, what your diet is like. I could go on!

What I’m really trying to say is that every woman is different because every body is different. All we really can say for sure is that my menopause and perimenopause experiences will be very different from yours!

What is perimenopause?

Perimenopause is the period of time leading up your menopause day. Peri means “around menopause” and this can start from when a woman is in her 30s, although it more typically starts when a woman is in her 40s.

#Perimenopause is the period of time leading up to your #menopause - and it can last up to 15 years!!Click To Tweet

The less than great news is that perimenopause can last up to 15 (!!!) years, however some women only go through this phase for a few months. The average is about four years.

Perimenopause ends when a woman has gone for 12 months without having her period.

For years I thought the only symptom of perimenopause was the hot flush. I was appalled when my cousin, who is ten years older than I, told me there are about 97 symptoms. She then proceeded to reel off what she was currently experiencing. The list seemed endless.

However it’s not all bad news! While there are many symptoms of perimenopause, most women will only go through some of them.

menopause and perimenopause