The primary factor distinguishing perimenopause from menopause is menstruation. Women in perimenopause are still producing estrogen and having periods, whereas, women who have entered menopause have not menstruated for at least 12 months.
Perimenopause is the transition from reproductive adulthood to menopause (1 year after the last menstruation). It may begin as early as age 35 and end as late as 59. It swings in hormone levels are what spark abnormal bleeding. It is also known as menopause transition or climacteric .
How do you know if you are in peri-menopause?
The common symptoms are:
- Menstrual irregularities: Experiencing changes in the intervals between periods or skip some periods altogether. The flow may be scanty or profuse. Ovulation may become more erratic as well. Women may be vulnerable to anemia if periods are heavy.
- Hot flashes and night sweats: Between 75 and 85 percent of women experience hot flashes during perimenopause. The intensity, frequency, and duration may vary.
- Sleep problems: Often hot flashes are to blame for the sleep disturbances or fatigue that can be linked to peri-menopause.
- Mood changes: Fluctuating hormones can cause mood swings, depression, irritability, difficulty handling stress or anxiety.
- Vaginal problems: As estrogen diminishes, vaginal tissues may lose lubrication and elasticity, making intercourse painful or uncomfortable.
- Bladder problems: Lower estrogen levels may leave more vulnerable to urinary tract infections or loss of tissue tone, which may also contribute to incontinence.
- Decreasing fertility: Because ovulation becomes less regular, the ability to conceive may decrease. As long as women having periods, though, pregnancy remains possible
- Decreased libido: Sexual desire and arousal may gradually decline; however, stresses in life can also play a role, so it is essential to reduce stress. A supportive and loving partner certainly lessens the effects of hormones.
- Body and skin changes: Muscle mass may decrease and body fat may increase as estrogen levels fall. Abdominal fat may increase. A regular exercise program can counter these effects. Lower levels of estrogen may affect the collagen in skin, making it thinner and less elastic.
- Loss of bone mass: As estrogen levels decline, Women may lose bone faster than it has been replaced, increasing risk of osteoporosis. Weight bearing exercise and a diet rich in usable calcium and other minerals as well as vitamin D can help keep bones strong.
- Changing cholesterol levels: Declining estrogen may result in increased LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, and an increased risk of heart disease. Eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains can help keep cholesterol levels low.
- Sore breasts: some women experience painful breasts just prior to and during their periods while others have sore breasts most of the time. Some women may be vulnerable to fibrocystic breasts.
- Migraines: severe, one-sided headaches that often include sharp pain through one eye, seeing auras, blurred vision, nausea, and vomiting.
Perimenopause is common in every woman, then when to consult doctor?
- Much heavier than normal periods, or periods accompanied by blood clots
- Periods lasting several days longer than usual
- Spotting between periods
- Spotting after sex
- Periods occurring much closer together (by several days or weeks)
Improving your lifestyle, targeting treatments and even turning to medication as needed can reduce symptoms dramatically
- Eat less fat, more calcium
- Exercise 30 minutes a day
- Breathe in for 5 seconds, then out for 5
- Ease hot flashes such as Alcohol, Smoking
- Better Sleep
- Balance your omegas
Some women seek medical attention for their perimenopausal symptoms. If you are experiencing such symptoms that interfere with your life or well-being, such as hot flashes, mood swings or changes in sexual function that bothers you, then book an appointment with Specialist Dr. Sarah Hussain to determine your best course of treatment.