Menopause and climacteric – often those terms are mentioned in the same breath, but what is what?
Menopause refers to the time of the last menstrual bleeding when there has been no more menstrual bleeding for 12 months. For women in Germany, it begins on average between the ages of 50 and 52. Menopause can only be determined in retrospect, because no one, including the woman herself, knows whether or not the period will start again.
The climacteric is a medical term, that represents a period of several months or years during which the hormone balance changes. Premature menopause (Climacterium praecox) is menopause caused by a lack of ovarian function before the age of 40.
Menopause is divided into three phases: Premenopause, Perimenopause, and Postmenopause. “Menopause” includes premenopause and perimenopause.
In premenopause, the time before menopause, menstrual periods occur increasingly irregularly. In addition, it is not uncommon to experience shortened cycles due to a shortened second half of the cycle. Other first signs of the onset of menopause can also be intermittent bleeding or particularly heavy and long periods. Furthermore, some women complain of nervous tension, irritability, migraine attacks, or water retention. However, these complaints are often not (yet) associated with the onset of menopause. Rather, many of those affected think that they are suffering from PMS. In fact, these complaints are caused by the gradual breakdown of the previously finely synchronized regulation of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Perimenopause refers to the period around menopause and begins about one to two years before and ends about one year after the last period. The ovaries now make less and less estrogen. Hot flashes, fatigue, and night sweats increase. Skin and mucous membranes become more brittle and dry than before. Due to the increasing estrogen deficiency, women often suffer from lack of concentration, weight gain, sleep disturbances as well as irritability, and are not able to work under pressure or stress. The vaginal mucosa also becomes drier and the libido decreases. Many women feel disoriented during menopause. They no longer feel young, but not yet old either. They feel insecure and dissatisfied with themselves and their situation. Menopausal women are also often more thoughtful than usual and withdraw.
Menopause and postmenopause
If hormone production drops so much that ovulation no longer occurs at all, menopause proper begins, on average from the age of 50. If there has been no more bleeding for at least a year, postmenopause begins, i.e. the phase after menopause in which the woman is finally infertile.
By the way, with OvulaRing you can track the exact beginning of your menopause. In this case, the cycles become more irregular and/or shorter. Ovulations occur less frequently until they finally stop. If you know your cycle exactly, you are no longer helplessly exposed to the time of menopause, but understand body signs better and can interpret or classify complaints correctly. Information about your cycle activity and the onset of menopause is also important for your gynecologist, as it enables her to give you the best possible advice.