Menopause is a completely natural event that marks the official end of menstruation and fertility. Many women spend several years in perimenopause, which is the transition period leading up to menopause. Some women barely notice they have gone through menopause until they no longer have periods. Others experience severe hot flashes and other disturbing physical and emotional symptoms along the way. There is very little mystery about when menopause is over. It has ended when your periods have stopped for good.
Understand that menopause is officially over when you have not had a period for one year. If you have gone 10 months without menstruating, and suddenly have a period at 11 months, you are still in menopause. Tally the period-free months all over again until they total 12.
Schedule a physical examination and ask your doctor to perform a blood test to confirm that you are through menopause. FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) levels that encourage the ovaries to produce eggs can be detected in your blood. If your levels of FSH are above 40 IU/L (international units per liter), then your menopause is most likely over.
Notice whether any of the menopausal symptoms you may have experienced, like hot flashes or fatigue, have dissipated or completely subsided. If they seem less bothersome or have vanished, it probably means that your hormone levels have balanced out.
The average age of menopause is 51, but any age between 45 and 55 is considered normal.
Remember that pregnancy continues to be a possibility until you have not had a period for one full year.
Once menopause is over, no amount of vaginal bleeding or spotting is normal and should be investigated by your doctor. While most postmenopausal bleeding is not due to a serious condition, it can be a sign of endometrial cancer.