Let’s reframe menopause.
Menopause is an important phase of life—one that, as recently as a century ago, only a small percentage of women ever experienced. Today, with increased life expectancies, 1.3 million people in the U.S. alone reach menopause every year.
In a culture obsessed with youth and surface-level beauty, it’s no wonder that menopause carries negative connotations. Too often, it is framed as a disease to be eradicated or cured. We’re working to change that. Growing older is a gift, an opportunity to refocus—and for women, menopause is a natural, clarifying experience as we age. Knowing what to expect and going in with the right outlook can go a long way toward a positive, empowering transition.
What exactly is menopause?
Menopause is the natural conclusion of menstruation, typically confirmed after 12 months without a period. Just as we entered our reproductive years during puberty, we leave them during menopause. Estrogen production slows, causing the menstrual cycle to fluctuate and eventually stop. Other physical changes and symptoms are expected as the body adjusts to different hormone levels.
Timing, duration, and definitions.
On average, women become menopausal at age 51, with many starting the transition earlier, in their 40s. Some people experience early (premature) or induced menopause due to other circumstances. For example, surgery removing the ovaries or estrogen-blocking medications will bring on early menopause.
Natural menopause varies from person to person, both in duration and symptoms, but usually extends over several years. The stages of menopause can be summarized in this way:
- Premenopause: The phase of life before menopause, before any symptoms start.
- Perimenopause: A 4–8 year period during which hormonal fluctuations occur. Most women experience symptoms like menstrual irregularity and hot flashes.
- Menopause: The moment in time when menstruation has stopped for 12 consecutive months. (Because it’s impossible to predict one’s final period, this diagnosis is typically applied retroactively.)
- Postmenopause: The phase of life after menopause.
The experience of menopause varies widely, but its associated symptoms can be linked to changing hormone levels in the body. Some of the hormones most impacted by menopause and their respective shifts are summarized below:
Estrogen levels fluctuate during perimenopause and decline during menopause. Less estrogen in the body can cause hot flashes, night sweats, headaches, vaginal dryness, and fatigue.
Progesterone production stops after your final period. Decreasing levels can cause menstrual irregularity during perimenopause.
Melatonin is a hormone that determines sleep and wake cycles. Levels naturally decrease with age.
Leptin is released from fat cells and acts as an appetite suppressant. Some research indicates that lowered estrogen can also result in lower leptin levels.
Ghrelin is a hormone that increases appetite. Its concentration in the body fluctuates during perimenopause and menopause.
Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone. Levels generally increase with age and can impact everything from physical activity and heart health to emotional well-being and more.
Fluctuating hormones affect us differently. Some women report no physical changes apart from menstrual irregularity, while others experience more intense, whole-body symptoms. Regardless of their frequency or severity, menopause symptoms can be uncomfortable and frustrating. However, with proper medical care and attention to all-around health, they can be greatly alleviated. More common symptoms generally fall into the four following categories:
- Mood swings
- Cognitive issues
- Brain Fog
- Body Image Issues
- Joint and muscle pain
- Insomnia/Sleep Issues
- Weight gain and changes in body composition
- Muscle and strength loss
- Vaginal dryness
- Pelvic floor dysfunction
- Change in libido
How Upliv can help.
During menopause, physical and mental changes go hand-in-hand. After years of reliable—if cyclical—hormone levels, menopause can feel like your body is in revolt. And in a society that so often ignores the concerns and needs of women (really, anyone with a uterus), the experience can be all the more isolating.
We’re challenging status quo menopause care with science-backed treatments and a whole-person focus. Our philosophy is to treat all of you, body and mind. Since the experience of menopause varies so much, so do our care plans. With each patient, we collaboratively build the right treatment for you as an individual. We bring the Upliv community together, providing a safe space for sharing, discussion, and support.
It’s time we stop framing menopause as an ending. It’s a transitional moment—an opportunity to connect with others, prioritize your health, and look forward to the next chapter. And with Upliv, the transition just got easier.