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Menopause and Lack of Periods

When does menopause actually start? How many periods do you have to miss to be considered postmenopause? Entering the menopause transition can be difficult as its multiple side effects often come accompanied by many questions and misconceptions. Fortunately there's also a wealth of information available designed to help explain the transition and its effects. Read on to learn more.

Missing periods does not mean that you are in menopause

No Periods at 46, Am I Menopausal?

Even though most women begin menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, you are not certain to be menopausal at any particular time. The exact time frame varies from women to women. However, women are deemed as having reached menopause when they haven't received a period for 12 consecutive months. If you are still receiving periods you are most likely perimenopause - the stage preceding menopause when many symptoms surface.

During this transitional period your body and its hormones experience many changes that can also result in infrequent and irregular periods.

What Causes Missed Periods When Approaching Menopause?

On average, a woman has 500 eggs in her ovaries. During the onset of menstruation however, woman begin to lose these eggs, and by the time they reach 51 it is common for the supply to have been depleted. During perimenopause, the amount of estrogen produced surrounding the eggs also lessens, a phenomenon which can account for a reduction in periods. Therefore while missing periods does not mean that you are in menopause, it could suggest that you are approaching this stage.

There are also many contributing factors that can cause missed periods. Stress, lack of sleep, fatigue, diet, and other environmental elements can influence menstrual cycles. It's important to remember that the mind and the body are intertwined and can affect one another.

Does Birth Control Affect Periods?

The short answer is yes. For many women, birth control can alter both a period's timings and flow. Birth control pills for example can change the hormonal levels in your body and cause it to initiate menstruation at different times.

Birth control pills affect your body's estrogen levels and stop the release of an egg. Fortunately there is a huge range of birth control pills available ranging in potency. Talk to your doctor to discover which one is right for you.

Treatments for Irregular Periods

Controlling irregular periods is hard, especially if you are perimenopausal. However, by making little lifestyle changes you can prepare yourself physically and mentally for the upcoming change. Exercise, a healthy diet, and solid relationships can help women improve their health and cope with the changes they are experiencing. There are also alternative medicines available that can help the body naturally produce more of the chemicals it needs.

If you are concerned about your periods, seek the advice of a medical professional.

Periods Every Two Weeks or Two Periods in One Month

Women can experience a period every two weeks instead of every month. Click here to read what can cause two periods in a month and how it can be treated.

Vaginal Bleeding during Postmenopause

Postmenopausal women may experience vaginal bleeding, which can have several causes. Click here for more info on vaginal bleeding after menopause.

Thyroid and Irregular Periods

Irregular periods are usually not a concern, but they can be caused by an underlying issue, such as a thyroid condition. Click here for more info.

Sources:
  • Hutchinson, Susan M.D. "The Stages of a Woman's Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause". November 2007.
  • Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
  • BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007