What to Know About Your Last Period

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Your last period signals that menopause has happened. But the process does not happen overnight.

Menopause is diagnosed when you have missed your period for 12 consecutive months. As your body transitions to menopause over several years, you may have irregular periods.

This article will discuss your final period in relation to menopause, including symptoms to look out for, treatment for menopause, and coping.

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Signs Your Period May Be Stopping

For most people with a uterus, menopause is a natural process that occurs between the ages of 40 and 58, although some people experience premature (early) menopause.

The years leading up to menopause are called perimenopause. A common sign of perimenopause is a change in your menstrual cycle. Cycles may become longer or shorter than usual, and you may begin to skip periods.

Other symptoms of perimenopause include:

Perimenopause can last an average of six to eight years before your final menstrual period.

If you think you are perimenopausal, make sure to track your menstrual cycle so you know how long you go between periods. As you get closer to 12 months period-free (including without spotting), you will know you are reaching menopause.

Even if you’ve gone several months without menstruating, until an entire year goes by, there’s always a chance you’ll have another period. In that case, you’ll have to start the countdown all over again.

Reasons Your Period Stops

Natural menopause is a normal part of aging, although some people have induced menopause when both ovaries are removed or damaged by cancer treatments. 

Age is the most common factor that influences menopause. As you age, the reproductive cycle begins to slow down and prepares to stop.

When your ovaries stop making estrogen, your menstrual cycle (period) starts to change. It can become irregular and then stop.

In the last one to two years of perimenopause, the drop in estrogen accelerates. At this stage, many people with a uterus may experience menopause symptoms.

It’s worth noting that even if your periods are irregular, you can still get pregnant during perimenopause.

How to Know You’re in Menopause

If you are having irregular periods and other symptoms of perimenopause, report them to your healthcare provider. Irregular periods are common and normal during perimenopause, but other conditions can cause abnormalities in menstrual bleeding as well. 

Sometimes irregular periods can be a sign of another condition such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or a thyroid disorder.

Your healthcare provider will diagnose menopause when you report you have not had a menstrual period in 12 months. Because of the way your hormone levels change around menopause, there is no accurate and reliable blood test to diagnose it, although some may be done to rule out other conditions, such as thyroid disease.

What Are Treatments for Menopause?

You may not need any treatment for menopause. When treatment for menopause is discussed, it’s about treating the symptoms of menopause that disrupt your life. There are many different types of treatments for the symptoms of menopause.

Some people wait out the symptoms, but it can be helpful to discuss treatment options with your healthcare provider, primary care doctor, or gynecologist.

There are many choices to help ease the menopausal transition and improve the symptoms of menopause. They range from practices like yoga and meditation to hormone replacement and alternative or complementary therapies that address specific symptoms.

It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider while you are going through menopause to craft a treatment plan that works for you. Every person is different and has unique needs.

How to Practice Self-Care During Menopause

It is vital to take care of your mental and physical health during menopause, which can be a difficult time. Eating well, regular exercise, and practicing self-care can help increase your quality of life.

Sometimes it takes more than self-care. Don’t be afraid to talk to your healthcare provider if you are having trouble coping with the demands of daily life. They may be able to offer treatments and coping strategies to ease you through the transitional period.

Summary

The transition from perimenopause to your final period can take several years. You will know you have had your final period when you have not menstruated for 12 months consecutively.

As well as irregular periods, you may experience other symptoms like hot flashes, emotional changes, and sleep changes. Thankfully, treatments are available to help manage these symptoms.

A Word From Verywell

Just like you can’t predict when your first period will happen, unless there has been a medical intervention, you can’t predict when your last period will be.

If you think you are perimenopausal, make sure to track your menstrual cycle so you know when you have reached 12 months without a period. This will signal that you have reached menopause.

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3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The North American Menopause Society. Overview of menopause.

  2. American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists. The menopause years. Updated July 2020.

  3. Harlow SD, Paramsothy P. Menstruation and the menopausal transitionObstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2011;38(3):595-607. doi:10.1016/j.ogc.2011.05.010