Menopause is simply the conclusion of a cycle that began during puberty, when you first began having menstrual periods. One of the first signs of approaching menopause is a change in the cycle. Some women may skip one or more periods, bleeding may last for a shorter time or a longer time and flow may be heavier or lighter. Spotting in mid-cycle sometimes occurs.
Body chemistry also changes during menopause, such as a lowered metabolism and associated weight gain even though you haven’t changed your eating or exercise habits. Weight gain may result in decreased cardiovascular health and increases the risk of colon, breast, and uterine and ovarian cancer. Lowered estrogen levels can also lead to cholesterol problems during perimenopause years. In addition, testosterone levels drop at this time, with a corresponding reduction in sexual interest.
Perimenopausal symptoms often last about two years but could last for four or five years. The average age to experience menopause is 51, yet menopausal symptoms may begin as early as 35 or as late as 60. Just as every woman is different, every woman experiences the changes of life differently. It is important for you to recognize that you are still at risk of becoming pregnant even if you are experiencing signs of menopause.