Women are born with a finite number of eggs, so the end of ovulation is when your ovaries literally “run out” of eggs.
As ovulation ceases, periods gradually cease too. Because when there is no egg around to take care of, there is no need to build up the uterine lining.
The menopause is triggered when egg production is no longer possible and your ovaries stop releasing estrogen. In some women this happens gradually and in others it can be more immediate, meaning menopausal symptoms can have a bigger impact.
Most women are unaware when they stop ovulating, but certain signs tell you it’s on the horizon. Things like erratic menstrual flow, hot flushes and night sweats. In other words, symptoms traditionally associated with the perimenopause, the period leading up to the menopause.
Irregular and erratic periods during the perimenopause mean they can be heavy one month and light the next, and they may get shorter or last longer. It’s not uncommon to lose track of when your periods begin and end during this time, and an ovulation calculator is unlikely to be any help, as the regular cycle you are probably used to can no longer be relied upon. Some women continue to menstruate for many years after ovulation stops, but their periods may be unpredictable.
Like your periods, hormone levels become erratic during the perimenopause. It’s common for women in their late 40s to not ovulate one month, so progesterone doesn’t get produced to trigger menstruation, while estrogen levels continue to rise. This can cause symptoms like spotting during your cycle or a heavy flow when your period does start.
Having erratic periods and spotting means you need to be prepared wherever you go. Always make sure you carry towels and liners (such as Libresse DailyFresh) in your bag, so you’re never caught out.
And don’t forget that while erratic bleeding is common during the perimenopause, it can also be a sign of serious conditions like uterine cancer, so consult your doctor if you have any concerns.