To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Massage and Menopause: Touch Helps Ease Women through the Transition,” , in the September 2010 issue. Article summary: Women go through menopause at different times, and this can be attributed to a variety of factors, such as lifestyle, diet, genetics and general health. For many women, the change in their bodies comes at a crucial time, and with increased responsibility and related stress, many women find it difficult to take time to care for themselves and address the changes their bodies are experiencing. Their symptoms progress, and for some women it may seem unbearable. Enter massage therapy.

, Managing Editor

According to, there are four stages of menopause: premenopause, perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause.

Premenopause. This term is used to describe the time from a woman’s first menstrual period to the last. According to, this term has been misused to describe perimenopause or premature menopause.

Perimenopause. This term describes the years immediately before menopause. Perimenopause is the most symptomatic stage of menopause According to the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), the median age for the onset of perimenopause is 47.5 years, while the average age of menopause occurs at 51.4 years in Western women. Again, each woman is different, and according to Margery L.S. Gass, M.D., N.C.M.P., executive director of the NAMS, the range of natural menopause will typically occur between the ages of 41 and 55.

Menopause. This stage occurs when a woman has experienced 12 consecutive months with no menstrual period. According to the Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health, it is estimated there will be 62 million American women reaching menopause by the year 2020, with most of these women spending one-third to one-half of their lives postmenopause. Also, smokers typically enter menopause about 1.5 years earlier than nonsmokers.

Postmenopause. This term represents the time in a woman’s life after her last menstrual period. Because of the reduced production of hormones, specifically estrogen, in women as they age, there are newer health concerns to be aware of during postmenopause, such as osteoporosis and heart disease.