Menopause: A Comprehensive Guide for Seniors

Understanding Menopause for Seniors

Try as she might, no woman manages to avoid menopause. This hormonal and physical change happens for all women, typically between the ages of 45 and 55. However, there’s a wide range of what is considered “normal,” and you might experience menopause as early as in your 30’s or as late as your 60’s. Since this big change happens to all people who are born female, you may as well be prepared! Even if you aren’t biologically female yourself, anyone who knows and loves a senior woman should be familiar with menopause too. Keep reading for our guide to menopause for seniors.


What are the 3 Stages of Menopause?


Officially, menopause is defined as a period of 12 months where you do not experience a menstrual cycle. So, menopause itself only lasts one year. However, there are 3 phases associated with this change.


Perimenopause is the period just before menopause where you begin to experience symptoms. It usually starts about 4-8 years before menopause, which for most women is about mid-30’s to mid-40’s. It can last anywhere from 2-10 years. During this time, your levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone begin to decrease. It’s essentially the opposite of puberty, and it can be just as uncomfortable. You’ll become less fertile, and have shorter and more irregular menstrual cycles. You may also experience these symptoms:

  • Mood changes
  • Changes in sexual desire
  • Night sweats
  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Sweating
  • Other symptoms similar to PMS (premenstrual syndrome)


Menopause, as we previously mentioned, is the one year period in which you do not have any period cycles. At the end of this period of time, you will no longer be able to conceive children, because your body is no longer releasing eggs. If this happens before age 40, it’s called premature menopause. If it happens between the ages of 40-45, it’s considered early menopause. You may experience the same symptoms you do during perimenopause. You may also have these symptoms:

  • Hair loss or thinning
  • Feeling of loss of self
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI’s)
  • Problems with memory, concentration, and “brain fog”
  • Tinnitus (hearing a persistent tinny sound even in quiet environments.)


Postmenopause is the rest of your life after your period cycles stop. You’ll continue to experience the symptoms of menopause for about 2-7 years, after which time these symptoms usually become less severe or go away entirely.


What about Hysterectomies?


Even if you’ve had a hysterectomy, you’ll still experience menopause. The only exception to this is if both of your ovaries were removed prior to puberty. If you have a hysterectomy where your uterus is removed but your ovaries remain, you’ll go through menopause at the usual time or perhaps a little earlier, and with the same symptoms, although you won’t have periods to mark this change. Your body will still reduce the amount of estrogen and progesterone that it produces over time, causing the same physical effects.


If you have a hysterectomy where both ovaries are removed, you will immediately enter menopause, because the ovaries are the main source of these hormones. This is called “surgical menopause.” So, you’ll enter menopause without the perimenopausal period of time. This means the symptoms may be more sudden and severe. 


Can the Symptoms of Menopause be Treated?

Some of the symptoms of perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause can be uncomfortable or even distressing. Thankfully, there are many treatments for most of these symptoms. Each woman will experience menopause differently, with different symptoms, duration of symptoms, and symptom severity. For this reason, treatment is very individual. Talk to your doctor about your specific symptoms, how severe they are, and how long you’ve been having them. Together, you can come up with a treatment plan to ensure you don’t have to put your life on hold just because your ovaries are finished with their childbearing years.


As with nearly all health conditions, you can make lifestyle changes that may make your experience with menopause less unpleasant. Eating a healthy diet of whole, nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and managing your stress can all help. Hormone replacement therapy may also be appropriate for some women, especially those who have undergone a hysterectomy, as are prescription and over-the-counter medications. 


Menopause may not be the most fun life change you’ll experience, but it can also be a liberating time of rediscovery and self-discovery. Stellar Living hopes this guide to menopause for seniors helps you and your loved ones understand this natural process, and make it a little easier on you.