It’s best to be well informed about menopause, so it doesn’t sneak up on you.

menopause

When it comes to life, there are certain inescapable truths; death, taxes, and if you’re a woman, menopause. When we are young girls and first get our period, we often sit down with our mothers and have ‘the talk’. By the time we are old enough to reach menopause, our mothers generally leave it up to us to figure it all out.

That being said, hitting menopause can be very confusing for women, and there can be a lot of denial involved, which may leave us uninformed.

So to make it easy, here are five things every woman should know about menopause.

Menopause is caused by a decrease of estrogen and progesterone production in your ovaries. It is a natural part of life, which is important to remember, when you are covering yourself in ice packs from the onset of a hot flash.

Menopause will likely hit you sometime between the ages of 45-55, although the average age is 51. The age at which you reach menopause may vary, but it is thought to be genetically determined. Certain things like smoking are thought to bring it on earlier, in case you need an excuse to quit.

READ MORE: How to Handle Menopause Anxiety

Menopause has two stages; perimenopause (the period right before the process actually begins), and full-on menopause. During perimenopause you may experience some of the symptoms, and your period may likely be irregular, but you haven’t actually hit menopause until menstruation stops for 12 months in a row, so get your calendars synced, girl.

Symptoms of menopause vary, but hot flashes are the most common symptom, occurring in 75% of women. You may also experience muscle and joint pain, mood swings, vaginal dryness, weight gain, and slowed metabolism, to name a few. The symptoms are no picnic, but the idea of never having a period again should be enough to get you through.

While menopause is completely natural, it does increase your chances of developing osteoporosis, and can be accompanied with weight gain. Your best bet to get through it with flying colors is to be proactive, and re-evaluate your diet and exercise regimens. Make sure you eat lots of foods rich in calcium, and take a vitamin D supplement. If necessary, you can also take medication to help prevent bone loss, so see a doctor if that concerns you.

It’s true that menopause isn’t exactly a walk in the park, but you got through your period, so you will get through this. The only thing you can do is make sure you are well informed, and remember that even though it’s called ‘the change’, all the best things in life happen because of change.