Are you a female in the age group 35 and older? Have been experiencing mood swings? Do you feel like you are not as tolerant as you were a few years ago? Have your eating habits changed? Do you still love the things you used to love? Are you as energetic/focused as you used to be? If you have noticed these changes among other things, you may be a candidate and or experiencing perimenopause.
Perimenopause, otherwise known as menopause transition is a period of time in a woman’s life when she begins to experience changes in her life. These changes may start mild and seem insignificant and move to drastic and severe. These changes are capable of altering every aspect of a woman’s life. Perimenopause is something that is not spoken about much but it should be; because its impact has consequences for the woman and her family. It is that time in a woman’s life when her ovaries gradually begin to make less estrogen. It is normal for it to start in her 40s, but can happen as early as 30 .
How Long Does It Lasts?
Perimenopause lasts up until menopause, at which point the ovaries stop releasing eggs. It is important to note that in the last one to two years of perimenopause, this drop in estrogen speeds up. At this stage, many women have menopause symptoms; which are sometimes an extension of those already being experienced during the early perimenopausal period.
The average length of perimenopause is 4 years. However, for some women this stage may last a few months or continue for 10 years. Perimenopause ends when a woman has gone through 12 months without having her period. Note though, that there have been women who have gone a year without a period, only to wake up one day and the period is here again.
What Are Some Of The Signs Of Perimenopause?
The signs and symptoms of perimenopause are numerous, too numerous to count. Hot flashes, cold flashes, night sweats, breast tenderness, worsening of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), lower sex drive, fatigue, anxiety, lack of focus, poor concentration, painful joints and muscles, headaches, bloating, weight loss, irregular periods, vaginal dryness, discomfort during sex, urine leakage when coughing or sneezing, urinary urgency (an urgent need to urinate more frequently), change in body odor, mood swings, irritability, trouble sleeping, heart palpitations, dizziness – just to name a few.
The symptoms can be overwhelming at times and may give you cause to consult your doctor. Irregular periods are common and normal during perimenopause. However, other conditions can cause changes in menstrual bleeding. You may notice the following:
Your periods are very heavy, or they have a lot more clots
Your periods last several days longer than usual
You spot between periods
You have spotting after sex
Your periods happen closer together (you may get two in a month)
How Is Perimenopause Diagnosed?
Perimenopause is a process; a gradual transition. If you know your body you will start to see changes. No one test or sign is enough to determine if you have entered perimenopause. If you are having changes in your body, especially those listed above you could speak with your doctor. He or she will no doubt take many things into consideration, including your age, menstrual history, and what symptoms or body changes you are experiencing.
Some doctors may recommend blood tests to check your hormone levels. However, other than checking thyroid function, which can affect hormone levels, hormone testing is rarely necessary or useful to verify the beginning of perimenopause.
Can I Get Pregnant If I am Going Through Perimenopause?
Yes, you definitely can. Despite a decline in fertility during the Perimenopausal stage, you can still become pregnant. To avoid getting pregnant, you should use some form of contraceptive until you are certain you have reached menopause (you have gone 12 months without having your period).
Are There Treatments For the Symptoms of Perimenopause?
Many women get relief from these symptoms by restructuring their lives, health and wellness activities. In doing this they alter or change their diets to include more natural foods. One early sign I had was, becoming bloated, and gaining weight in my mid-section. I had maintained a fairly flat stomach over the years, and was surprised by what I was seeing and feeling. Even with reducing my portions not much changed, so I went to work do; trying to find out what was happening. My research lead me to a number of things, one of which was how and what I ate.
To reduce hot and cold flashes there are some drug free and estrogen free products that you can try – Estroven day and night as well as Black Cohosh. You could do the reviews in these products, to see what is being said about them and the results other women are getting.
I made a decision to change my eating pattern and diet for a year and see what the result would be. I removed bread, reduced by starch intake, increased my fruits and vegetable intake and walked consistently for half hour at least four days per week. I have also researched and tried some natural vitamins and supplements. This dealt with the weight issues and the bloating.
As for the other symptoms I am still working on them. One key thing to handling some of the more serious symptoms is to share and talk about this with other ladies, your doctor and your significant other. Based on my experience, some things work for a while and then stop; therefore, constant monitoring is required. Find out what works for you and continue to evaluate as you go.
Perimenopause is real and should not be ignored or treated insignificantly. Paying attention to our bodies as a women is essential in how we handle and cope with the symptoms, signs and changes that come with aging. I have met and spoken to women who do not experience and suffer from all or most of the Perimenopausal symptoms; and I have met women who seem to experience a great deal of them. The difference I found is that the former group were aware and had some expectation, whether through research or from friends and family who brought awareness of the condition to them. Here is where I truly believe, “knowledge used is power gained”.