We are all too familiar with menopause. But what is perimenopause? Years before menopause even begins, the transition is called you guessed it – perimenopause. Menopause is when the ovaries stop releasing egg or slowly ceases to function. The period before menopause during which a woman’s body gradually begins to produce less estrogen is perimenopause.
Although it is not an official medical term, perimenopause is used to describe and explain the “pre-menopause” stage of a woman.
Perimenopause is different for each woman (so much like menopause itself).
If the average age of women experiencing menopause is 51, perimenopause usually starts at 40. For some, it starts at 30 and lasts until menopause. On average, that means up to 4 years.
Changes in a woman’s body start during this time as the body produces less estrogen which is the primary female sex hormone.
You can say that perimenopause prepares your body for the menopause itself as the symptoms are somewhat the same.
Here are the most common signs that your perimenopause has started:
- Hot flashes
- Irregular periods
- Vaginal dryness that can cause sex discomfort or pain during intercourse
- Mood swings
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping
- Night sweats
- Tender breasts
During this time, you may also experience the worst pre-menstrual syndrome.
Although irregular periods may be experienced during perimenopause, take note that having blood clots or spots between periods could be a concern and you should see your doctor about it. Note also of periods that lasts longer than usual.
You also experience urination more often than normal because your urethra gets drier, thinner, and less elastic. A simple sneeze or cough may make you leak urine.
To make sure that what you are indeed experiencing is perimenopause as some symptoms also show with hormonal problems or pregnancy (some women also experience nausea) blood test may be required to check for your hormonal level.
Although the egg production in the ovaries depletes and the menstrual cycle is more erratic, you can still get pregnant during perimenopause so it is important to note of spotting and of your period. If you want to get pregnant around the time when your ovaries are slowly producing estrogens less, you may ask your doctor as proper hormone therapy will be needed.
The bone density will be affected as estrogen helps maintain the proper bone metabolism. The calcium needed may deplete as estrogen level will not be able to sustain the balance of calcium in the bones.
This is why older women are more prone to osteoporosis.
When you experience perimenopause, your body will be under a lot of changes. That is why it is important to seek your doctor’s help to help you ease or deal with the symptoms of perimenopause like weaker bones, low sex drive, nausea, hot flashes, decreased fertility and even increase in cholesterol level. Your body will need some extra care around this time and until after menopause.
It is also important to start observing a healthy lifestyle while you are still young so your body can handle the changes.
- Exercise daily as you will tend to gain weight more
- Find activities that can boost your mood as you will experience mood swings
- Stay away from food, alcohol and cigarettes as these can contribute to a higher risk of heart disease and cholesterol problems.
Most importantly, love your body and embrace every change. You can’t stop your body’s normal function but you can learn to enjoy the journey.