Woman floating in water

While menopause affects nearly every woman, including an estimated  55 million women in the USA and almost 1 billion globally, a lack of professional
education and the taboo of the subject can lead to confusion about the symptoms, timeline, and broad effects of this natural transition.  

Menopause affects women in more ways than they might be aware of, and affects each woman differently. Learning more about the menopausal transition can help women better understand the natural changes their bodies undergo.

Unfortunately, education surrounding menopause is severely lacking. In fact, a survey of OB/GYN residents found that just 20% of residency programs provide any type of menopause training, let alone a comprehensive education. This lack of education makes medical residents feel uncomfortable discussing or treating menopause, creating shortcomings in treatment and education for women. 

If you’re currently in menopause, suspect you’re in menopause, or want to prepare for your menopausal transition, we’re here to help by demystifying each phase and letting you know what symptoms, both known and lesser known, you should look out for.

4 Phases of Menopause

When most people refer to “menopause,” they’re actually referring to the entire four-stage menopausal transition. This is a significant transition that can last as long as ⅓ of a woman’s life. Below, we break down the four phases of menopause: premenopause, perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause.


Premenopause is the first stage of the menopausal transition. The average age of women beginning premenopause is 35, and this stage lasts an average of seven years. Although there might be some hormonal shifts, menstruation persists, whether regular or irregular, and this period is still characterized as your reproductive years.


Many people use the terms premenopause and perimenopause interchangeably, but these are two unique phases of the menopausal transition. Perimenopause begins at an average age of 42 and can last anywhere from a few years to nearly a decade. Women in perimenopause experience fluctuations in hormone levels, including a significant decrease in estrogen, resulting in both physical and emotional symptoms such as irregular periods, sleep disturbances, brain fog, decreased sex drive, dryer and less elastic skin, and mood swings. Symptoms can vary widely in severity and duration.


The menopause phase of the menopausal transition is generally misunderstood. A survey by Bonafide reported that nearly half of women (45%) don’t know the difference between perimenopause and menopause. While perimenopause is a multi-year transition marked by significant changes, menopause lasts just one day and signifies that it has been 12 months since your final period. The average age of women in menopause is 51, though each journey is unique.


Postmenopause is the final stage of the menopausal transition and lasts for the rest of your life. Women in this stage may experience the symptoms of earlier phases, however, these symptoms will eventually decrease or go away completely. It’s important to know that at this stage you can be more at risk from conditions such as Osteoporosis and cardiovascular issues.

Menopause Symptoms

From hot flashes to brain fog, the symptoms of menopause vary based on the menopausal phase. However, 73% of women aren’t currently treating any symptoms of menopause. Of course, understanding and preparing for symptoms is the first step to beginning treatment. Menopause symptoms can be broken down into common, well-known symptoms and uncommon, lesser-known symptoms.

Common menopause symptoms

Symptoms of menopause vary based on the phase, though most of the commonly known symptoms occur during perimenopause. During perimenopause, commonly known symptoms include:

● Hot flashes
● Sleeping problems/insomnia
● Mood changes
● Irregular periods
● Vaginal/bladder problems
● Fatigue
● Changes in sex drive
● Headaches

Lesser-known menopause symptoms

Lesser-known symptoms of menopause also vary by phase with many symptoms occurring during perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause. These symptoms can affect your brain, body, and emotions in different ways. Symptoms can include:

● Osteoporosis
● Brain fog
● Weight gain
● Loss of breast fullness
● Varying cholesterol levels
● Thinning hair
● Dry/less elastic skin
● Joint pain
● Muscle aches
● Depression
● Anxiety
● Cardiovascular issues

Menopausal symptoms vary from woman to woman, so you may only experience some of these symptoms, or even symptoms not included on this list. Regardless, knowing what symptoms to look out for can help you prepare for your menopausal transition.

woman applying cream on her face

Menopause Skin Symptoms

Menopause’s effect on skin is one of the symptoms that’s often overlooked by medical professionals. During the menopausal transition, skin can feel thin, dry, less elastic, and wrinkles can become more prevalent. 

Collagen quickly deteriorates during perimenopause with women’s skin losing about 30% of collagen during the first five years, followed by 2% during each of the next 20 years. Hormonal fluctuations and changes can also impact skin and lead to acne, redness, or irritation. 

The best protections for skin during menopause include protecting your skin from the sun and using skincare products. Using healthy products designed intentionally for women experiencing menopausal symptoms can help keep your skin feeling fresh, firm, and moisturized. 

Finlay+Green skincare products are developed specifically for menopausal skin. Designed to multi-task, our products are clean conscious, simple to use, hormone free, and dermatologist approved. 

Woman getting ready for yoga to help maintain health and wellness during menopause

Maintaining Health and Wellness During Menopause

Changes that occur during the menopausal transition can affect your health and wellness in a lot of ways. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can minimize symptoms and help keep you healthy from premenopause to postmenopause.


Consistently eating a well-balanced diet is an important part of caring for yourself during menopause. A diet rich in whole grains, high quality protein and dairy, fruits, and vegetables may help reduce the symptoms of menopause and may mitigate health problems such as Osteoporosis and heart disease. Avoiding or limiting added sugars, alcohol and caffeine, spicy and high-salt foods may also be beneficial in helping to reduce symptoms such as hot flashes and poor sleep.


Regular exercise is healthy for you at every phase of menopause. Consistent exercise can strengthen bones, help prevent unwanted weight gain, reduce the risk of other diseases, and even improve your mental health!

Consider taking brisk walks, swimming or dancing for aerobic exercises, stretching to help with muscle and joint tightness, and light strength and resistance exercises to maintain muscle.

Sleep and recovery

Getting sleep might be easier said than done, but following a consistent sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment, and avoiding TV and computer screens before bed can help you get a full night of rest.

Stress management

Menopause is stressful both physically and mentally, so don’t overlook managing your stress. Along with healthy eating, exercise, and consistent sleep, activities like yoga and meditation can help keep your stress levels in check.


Most people need to drink more water, but staying hydrated during menopause is critical due to water loss from night sweats and hot flashes. Hydration can help minimize symptoms of menopause, particularly fatigue and brain fog. Be sure to drink plenty of water over other liquids like coffee and tea.

Managing hot flashes

Hot flashes are the most commonly known symptom of menopause. To manage hot flashes, wear cotton whenever possible and dress in layers so you can quickly cool down when a hot flash starts. Watch what you eat and drink as alcohol, sugary foods, and cigarettes can exacerbate symptoms. Research shows that meditation and hypnotherapy could help with hot flashes as well.

Schedule regular doctor appointments

Doctors can monitor your overall health through the menopausal transition. Cholesterol levels can spike and subside, and issues like bone density loss could lead to more significant health problems. Regular doctor appointments will help you stay healthy throughout each phase of menopause. It’s also very important to discuss your symptoms and concerns with your doctor first before embarking on any treatments or programs.

Join or create a support group

Menopause is not discussed enough, and many women don’t research menopause until they begin to experience symptoms. Finding or creating a support group can help you talk through symptoms and feelings you don’t understand or weren’t prepared for. While some groups may provide advice, talking about your personal journey can help with stress.

Also, be sure to talk to friends and family about your symptoms and how you’re feeling so they can better understand what you’re going through and be better prepared to help support you. Talking also helps demystify menopause and remove the taboo from the subject, all while educating others about what is, after all, a natural part of life.