Midlife often is called "the prime of life," and research suggests it really is.
At midlife, you are likely to be healthy and productive. By this stage, you've likely met goals set in your youth and are thinking about where to go next in your life. However, myths about middle age abound. Some people think of it as a dreary stage when the best that life has to offer is over. Nothing is further from the truth.
What is true is that midlife is a busy time, full of changes. Maybe your children are older—even living on their own—giving you free time you haven't had in years. You may switch to a new career, go back to school, or take up new hobbies.
Your body changes at midlife, too. Around your mid-40s, you enter a transition phase called perimenopause. It is a time of gradual change leading up to and following menopause. In general, perimenopause extends from age 45 years to age 55 years, although the timing varies among women. During this time, the ovaries produce less estrogen. Other changes occur in your body, as well. Because these changes happen slowly over time, you may not be aware of them.
Menopause is sometimes called "the change of life." It marks the end of menstrual periods and of your childbearing years. On average, the age at which American women have their last menstrual period is 51 years.
Perimenopause and menopause are natural events. Although the same basic changes take place inside all women's bodies, each woman feels and copes differently. The symptoms of menopause may first arise in perimenopause as early signals. No two women seem to experience menopause in exactly the same way. It's best to approach menopause fully informed and with a positive mind-set. By knowing what to expect, you can take steps to ease symptoms and prevent health problems later in life.
Both women and men face midlife changes and must deal with them. These changes in women may be more pronounced as hormone levels decrease more dramatically than in men. Sharing this booklet with your partner may help promote communication during this time.