Menopause is only one of several stages in the reproductive life of a woman. The whole menopause transition is divided into four main stages known as:
- Premenopause — refers to the entirety of a woman’s life from her first to her last regular menstrual period. It is best defined as a time of “normal” reproductive function in a woman.
- Perimenopause — means “around menopause” and is a transitional stage of two to ten years before complete cessation of the menstrual period and is usually experienced by women from 35 to 50 years of age. This stage of menopause is characterized by hormone fluctuations, which cause the typical menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes.
- Menopause — represents the end stage of a natural transition in a woman’s reproductive life. Menopause is the point at which estrogen and progesterone production decreases permanently to very low levels. The ovaries stop producing eggs and a woman is no longer able to get pregnant naturally.
- Postmenopause — refers to a woman’s time of life after menopause has occurred. It is generally believed that the postmenopausal phase begins when 12 full months have passed since the last menstrual period. From here a woman will be postmenopausal for the rest of her life.
Some women go through menopause before the age of 40. This is called premature menopause. It can happen naturally or as a result of certain medical treatments.
Source Women’s Health.gov