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Hormone Changes During Menopause

Menopause is not a sudden change. During the months or years before menopause (perimenopause), your ovaries begin to run out of eggs. Your body makes less estrogen and progesterone. This may bring on symptoms such as hot flashes. You’ve reached menopause when you have not had a period for 1 year. From that point on, you are in postmenopause.

Crossview of the uterus showing perimenopause.

Perimenopause

In the years leading up to menopause, your ovaries make less estrogen. You release fewer eggs and your periods become less regular.

Symptoms you may have:

  • Heavier or lighter periods

  • Longer or shorter time between periods

  • Hot flashes

  • Mood swings

  • Night sweats

  • Insomnia

  • Vaginal dryness

  • Urinary changes including incontinence and frequency

Cross view of uterus showing postmenopause.

Postmenopause

After menopause, you make very little estrogen. As a result, the uterine lining does not thicken and your periods have ended.

Symptoms you may have:

  • No periods

  • Vaginal dryness

  • Hot flashes

  • Mood swings

  • Night sweats

  • Insomnia

Surgical menopause

Menopause can occur after a surgical removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) if the ovaries are also removed. Estrogen and progesterone levels decrease quickly. This may cause sudden and severe symptoms.

Online Medical Reviewer: Finke, Amy, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Sacks, Daniel, MD, FACOG
Last Review Date: 5/13/2015
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