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Hormone Changes During Menopause

Menopause is not a sudden change. During the months or years before menopause (perimenopause), the ovaries begin to run out of eggs. Less estrogen and progesterone are produced. This may bring on symptoms such as hot flashes. Twelve months after your last period, you’ve reached menopause. From that point on, you are in postmenopause.

Cross section of uterus with arrows showing that estrogen is decreased and progesterone is not produced if an egg is not released. The lining of the uterus is irregularly shed.

Perimenopause

In the years leading up to menopause, the ovaries produce less estrogen. Fewer eggs are released. Periods become less regular.

Symptoms you may have

Common symptoms include:

  • Heavier or lighter periods

  • Longer or shorter time between periods

  • Hot flashes

  • Breast tenderness

  • Bloating

  • Mood swings

Cross section of uterus with arrows showing that very little estrogen is released, so the uterine lining does not thicken. Progesterone is not produced and no lining of the uterus is shed.

Postmenopause

After menopause, very little estrogen is produced. As a result, the uterine lining does not thicken. Periods have ended.

Symptoms you may have

Common symptoms include:

  • No periods

  • Vaginal dryness

  • Hot flashes

  • Mood swings

  • Night sweats

  • Insomnia

Surgical Menopause

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

Online Medical Reviewer: Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 10/16/2013
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