What Exactly is The Menopause?

In my daily work as a nutrition therapist for women 40+, menopause naturally occupies a significant part. It is from our 40s and onwards that we can experience significant physical and mental changes. I help my clients handle these changes in a good way.

But what is menopause actually, how long does it last, and what are the typical changes to experience in this important phase of our lives?

These are questions I often get asked in the clinic. Many of the women I speak with come to me with symptoms they didn’t know were due to menopause or the beginning of it.

That’s why I’ve written these posts, so you can become more knowledgeable about the transition.

If you have questions or are struggling with some of these symptoms, contact me and don’t despair. There’s a lot you can do with the right diet and lifestyle to get through menopause healthy, strong, and well.

Phases and definitions

The menopause itself covers the years before and after your menstruation ceases. When it happens and how many years it takes varies greatly from woman to woman. It is a change that occurs gradually over a long time. During this period, the body produces fewer and fewer female sex hormones, and this change can affect both the body and mind in many individual ways.

When does it all start?

Changes in your body start already when you are around 35 years old.

This primarily involves a gradual decline in muscle strength and bone decalcification. Your lifestyle and diet have a lot to say – also here. You may not notice this change.

From around the age of 40, the female hormone estradiol slowly begins to decrease (estrogen is actually the name of a group of female hormones, where the most important 3 are estrone, estradiol, and estriol. Estradiol is the dominant of these 3 hormones). You will now enter pre-menopause.


This period typically lasts between 5-10 years.

Your ovulation becomes more irregular, and the production of female hormones estrogen and progesterone is unstable. You may not notice it because you still have your menstruation – which can be irregular. Your fertility decreases and you may experience mild symptoms such as minor hot flashes, mood swings, etc. You can say that this phase is an intermediate phase that prepares you for the peri-menopause itself.


This period typically lasts for about 2 years – the last year leading up to menopause and the year after.

This is the phase where you transition from being fertile to not being fertile. Your hormone production decreases with fluctuations. Due to these hormonal fluctuations, you may experience what is popularly called menopause symptoms such as:

Hot flashes, poor sleep, weight gain – especially around the waist, mood swings and fatigue, joint pain and stiffness, dry skin and hair problems, dry mucous membranes, urinary problems, constipation, memory and concentration problems, headache and migraine, increased sensitivity to stress – yes, and much more.

In this phase, there is an accelerated decalcification of your bones, and you now become more predisposed to cardiovascular diseases than before.

It is very individual which symptoms you experience. Some feel almost nothing, and others experience many symptoms, both physically and mentally. Talk to your mother or sister – there is often a genetic connection with both the experience of symptoms and the timing of the transitional period.


This phase typically occurs between 45-55 years, and you can no longer have children. The timing of the final post-menopause is determined when your menstruation has ceased for 12 consecutive months.

In Scandinavia, the average age for the final menopause is 51 years.

At the beginning of this phase, there may still be hormonal fluctuations, but they will typically gradually decrease, and your body will find a new balance that lasts for the rest of your life.

You could say that menopause is a reverse puberty. In puberty, hormones increase. In menopause, they decrease. Going from child to adult is a huge change. But menopause is just as significant a change – and deserves plenty of attention, understanding, and respect.

If you have any questions or want help to get healthy, slim and strong through your menopause, contact me and let’s talk about how I can help you.
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