What exactly happens during menopause?

Many women experience a remarkable transformation in their midlife: menopause. 

Menopause marks the end of women’s reproductive years, but it’s far from the end of a vibrant and fulfilling life. It typically occurs between 45 and 55 years old, although it can vary from woman to woman.

It’s important to understand that menopause isn’t a disease but a natural transition. However, hormonal shifts during this time can bring about some physical and emotional changes. These can range from hot flashes and sleep disturbances to vaginal dryness and mood swings.

Menopause affects all women, and there are many resources and support systems available to help you navigate this journey. 

Learning more about the different stages of menopause—perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause—can help you understand your unique experience and make informed choices about your health.

Understanding Menopause’s Shifts in Menopause

Imagine your hormones as a well-coordinated dance team working together to regulate your menstrual cycle. The two key players in this dance are estrogen and progesterone.

  • Estrogen: This versatile hormone plays a vital role in many bodily functions, including regulating your period, keeping your bones strong, and maintaining vaginal health.
  • Progesterone: This hormone works hand-in-hand with estrogen, preparing the lining of your uterus each month for a potential pregnancy.

During your midlife, around the age of 40, this hormonal dance starts to slow down. Your ovaries gradually produce less estrogen and progesterone. Think of it as fewer dancers on the stage. 

This decline in estrogen and progesterone is the core reason behind the changes you might experience during perimenopause, the years leading up to menopause itself.

Fluctuating hormones can have a domino effect on your body.

  • Hot flashes and night sweats: Without enough estrogen to regulate your body temperature, you might experience sudden feelings of intense warmth followed by sweating.
  • Vaginal dryness: Estrogen also helps maintain the health and moisture of your vaginal tissues. As levels decrease, you might experience dryness and discomfort during intercourse.
  • Irregular periods: With less progesterone to prepare your uterus, your periods might become shorter, longer, heavier, or lighter than usual. Eventually, they’ll stop altogether.
  • Other symptoms: Mood swings, trouble sleeping, weight gain, and changes in skin and hair are also common during menopause and can be linked to hormonal fluctuations.

It’s important to know that these hormonal changes happen gradually, and every woman experiences menopause differently. Some women might breeze through with minimal symptoms, while others might find them more bothersome.

While estrogen and progesterone are the show’s main stars, other hormones like FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) and LH (Luteinizing Hormone) might also support the hormonal shifts during menopause. However, understanding the impact of estrogen and progesterone is a great starting point for navigating this natural transition.

Symptoms of Menopause

Menopause can bring a wave of changes, but you don’t have to weather it alone. Here’s how to navigate some common symptoms and find support throughout this transition:

Understanding the “Why” Behind the Symptoms

  • Vasomotor Symptoms: Remember, hot flashes and night sweats are triggered by changes in blood vessel regulation due to declining estrogen.
  • Vaginal Changes: Estrogen keeps vaginal tissues healthy and elastic. As levels decrease, dryness and discomfort during sex can occur.

Might be interested in: What is Sexual Dysfunction?

Taking Charge of Your Wellbeing

While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, some lifestyle changes can make a big difference:

  • Diet: Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help manage symptoms and overall health.
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity can improve sleep, reduce stress, and even alleviate hot flashes.
  • Stress Management: Techniques like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing can help manage stress, which can worsen some menopause symptoms.

Seeking Professional Guidance

If your symptoms are bothersome and impact your quality of life, it’s important to consult a women’s health clinic at Capstone Medical Centre. Our team of experienced specialists, including female doctors, can offer personalised advice and treatment options.

One potential solution is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). 

HRT can help replenish estrogen levels and alleviate many menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and sleep problems. It’s important to discuss the potential benefits and risks of HRT with your doctor at Capstone Medical Centre to determine if it’s right for you.

The Stages of Menopause

Menopause isn’t a single event but rather a journey with distinct stages. Understanding these stages can help you navigate your own unique experience:

1. Perimenopause: The Prelude (Several Years)

Perimenopause, literally meaning “around menopause,” marks the beginning of the hormonal shifts leading up to menopause itself. This stage can begin several years (often 4-8 years) before your final period and is characterised by fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels. 

This fluctuation often causes the symptoms we discussed earlier, like hot flashes, irregular periods, and sleep disturbances.

2. Menopause: The Milestone (1 Year)

Menopause is officially diagnosed when you haven’t had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. This typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, although it can vary from woman to woman. Some women might experience a gradual decrease in periods, while others might have a more abrupt halt.

3. Postmenopause: The New Chapter (Remainder of Life)

Postmenopause refers to the years following your final period. During this stage, your estrogen and progesterone levels remain low and stable. Some women might continue to experience occasional symptoms like hot flashes, while others find their symptoms subside significantly.

Long-Term Health and Menopause

While menopause marks the end of your reproductive years, it’s certainly not the end of a healthy and fulfilling life. However, with the decline in estrogen levels after menopause, there are some important things to keep in mind for your long-term health:

  • Bone Health: Estrogen plays a vital role in keeping your bones strong. After menopause, your risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition that weakens bones and increases fracture risk, increases.
  • Heart Disease: Estrogen also has a protective effect on your heart. Following menopause, your risk of heart disease may increase.

These potential health risks shouldn’t be cause for alarm. By adopting healthy lifestyle habits and scheduling regular checkups with your doctor, you can take proactive steps to safeguard your long-term health.

Here are some tips:

  • Maintain a healthy diet: Calcium-rich foods like dairy products and leafy greens are essential for bone health. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can also help promote heart health.
  • Regular exercise: Weight-bearing exercises like walking, running, and strength training can help maintain bone density. Exercise also plays a crucial role in heart health.
  • Don’t smoke: Smoking is a significant risk factor for both osteoporosis and heart disease.
  • Limit alcohol intake: Excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to osteoporosis and other health problems.
  • Schedule regular checkups: Visiting your doctor for regular checkups allows them to monitor your bone density and heart health. Early detection and intervention are key to preventing or managing any potential issues.

Prioritising your health and working with your doctor, you can confidently navigate menopause and live a long, healthy life.


Menopause is a natural transition, a time of change and growth in a woman’s life. While it can bring about some physical and emotional adjustments, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Many resources and support systems are available to help you navigate this journey with confidence.

Capstone Medical Centre‘s team of experienced and compassionate women’s health doctors can provide personalised advice and help you manage your symptoms effectively.

Don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with us at Capstone Medical Centre in Southbank.


  • North American Menopause Society: North American Menopause Society
  • Office on Women’s Health – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: menopause symptoms and causes ON womenshealth.gov
  • National Institute on Aging – National Institutes of Health: what is menopause ON National Institutes of Health (.gov) nia.nih.gov

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