Let’s start things off by defining some terms.
- Perimenopause – The transition between the reproductive years and menopause. Can also be called the menopausal transition.
- Menopause – The permanent loss of menstrual periods, determined after 12 consecutive months without a period. The average age at menopause is 51.
- Postmenopause – The years that follow menopause.
To put it another way, you are in perimenopause until 12 months after your final menstrual period. That date, 12 months after your final menstrual period, you meet the definition for menopause. The years that follow are the postmenopausal years.
When we are looking at the postmenopausal years from a reproductive hormone perspective, estrogen and progesterone levels are both low and at a fairly steady state. Some people experience the postmenopausal years as less symptomatic than the perimenopausal years because hormone production is no longer fluctuating so significantly. Others can struggle with symptoms of low estrogen and low progesterone. It is a completely unique experience for each person, which is why an individualized approach to care is needed.