Women's life stages

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Women's life stages are based on the reproductive cycle, beginning with menstruation and continuing through menopause.

To understand these stages, start with the biology. When menstruation begins during puberty, an egg is released from the ovary during ovulation each month. It travels down the fallopian tube, where it might be fertilized by a sperm. If fertilized, it implants in the lining of the uterus, and pregnancy begins. If not, the egg and lining are shed during menstruation. This continues until perimenopause — the time when your body begins the transition to menopause.

Specific symptoms often mark different life stages in women. Those symptoms may include menstrual cramps, menstrual bleeding, mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain and sexual changes, among others. Learn how healthy lifestyle choices can help you feel your best at any stage. Understand your birth control options, hormonal therapy options and what measures can be taken to improve your quality of life. When in doubt, talk to your health care provider.

Cancer screenings also are an important part of your health, no matter what stage of life you're in. Make sure you know the frequency and timing of screening for cervical cancer, colon cancer and breast cancer. Talk to your health care provider about those screenings and which tests are right for you depending on your age and family history.

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Sept. 28, 2022