The menopause technically, is a single date – the date of your last ever natural period. Most women in the UK have their last period around age 51 – 52.
The perimenopause is the term for the period of time when the hormones start to alter leading up to the menopause. This time can be accompanied by significant symptoms for some, but not all women, as your body adapts to the lower or unstable levels of oestrogen. This can last a very variable amount of time. It may start some years before the menopause itself.
Post-menopausal is the term for the part of your life AFTER your periods have stopped. This is characterised by low oestrogen levels, and this can bring with it health changes, such as an increased chance of developing osteoporosis (brittle bones) and an increased risk of heart and blood vessel disease.
It can be really tough to work out whether the symptoms you are experiencing are related to the change in hormones your body is going through.
These changes are complex and the options available to manage them are different for every woman depending on her individual symptoms, her general health and her medical and family history.
Some women find it helpful to use a checklist like this to help guide consultations with their doctor. Please feel free to download this, fill it in and bring it to your consultation.