While menopause is not a disease or disorder, it does trigger some profound changes in a woman's body.
A diagnosis of menopause is confirmed when a woman has not had a menstrual period for one year. However, the symptoms of menopause generally appear before the end of that one-year period.
Changes to the menstrual pattern are the first noticeable symptoms of menopause. Some women may experience a period every 2 to 3 weeks. Others will not menstruate for months at a time.
Perimenopause is the 3-to-5-year period before menopause.
During the perimenopausal stage, a woman's estrogen levels will drop significantly. This reduces her chances of becoming pregnant.
Dryness, itching, and discomfort of the vagina tend to occur during perimenopause.
As a result, some women may experience dyspareunia, or pain during sex. Women experience this pain due to lowering estrogen levels. These lower levels cause vaginal atrophy.
Vaginal atrophy is an inflammation of the vagina that happens as a result of the thinning and shrinking of the tissues, as well as decreased lubrication.