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Menopause: a condition that 100% of women will experience, yet so few of us feel comfortable talking about.
Did you know that women in their 40s (and some as early as their 30s) can begin experiencing changes in the years leading up to menopause? Lasting anywhere from a few months to several years, this life stage is known as perimenopause and is discussed perhaps even less frequently than menopause. During perimenopause, a woman’s ovaries begin to produce less estrogen, which can result in the symptoms and side effects typically associated with menopause–from hot flashes and night sweats to sleep deprivation and mood swings. During this time, a woman may experience heavy or inconsistent periods or spotting, and/or periods that last for a longer duration or arrive at shorter intervals.
The average age of menopause for women in the US is 51, but just like with fertility or the onset of grey hair, there is great variability between women as to when menopause sets in. During perimenopause, a gradual decrease in estrogen causes a woman’s period to become less consistent over many months or years and then boom(!): one day you find yourself landing in menopause—the day that marks 12 months from your last period.