What You Need to Know About Perimenopause

Perimenopause is the transitional period between regular menstruation and menopause. It can start as early as one’s late 30s and usually lasts for several years. This is the time when menstrual cycles become irregular and hormone levels decline as the body prepares for menopause. Knowing what to expect during this stage and understanding the signs, symptoms and potential treatment options can help to ease your concerns and provide you with the know-how to help you manage any problems that may arise.

What is Perimenopause?

Perimenopause is the period of natural decline in hormonal levels that typically proceeds full-blown menopause. Generally, it begins when a woman is in her late 30s or early 40s and continues through the late 40s, when regular periods stop and she enters menopause.

Signs & Symptoms of Perimenopause

• Irregular periods

• Hot flashes

• Trouble sleeping
• Mood swings
• Trouble concentrating
• Low energy
• Weight gain
• Low libido
• Breast tenderness
• Vaginal dryness

It is important to note that these symptoms can be experienced differently by each individual, and not all women will experience the same symptoms.

When Does Perimenopause Start & How Long Does it Last?

The average age for perimenopause to begin is 47 years old, but it can start as earlier as one’s thirties. Symptoms usually begin around the age of 45 or 46, and can last for up to 10 years. During this period, the production of estrogen and progesterone hormones from the ovaries decreases and the function of the ovaries starts to decline.

Diagnosing Perimenopause

The diagnosis of perimenopause is made based on a thorough history, physical examination, and laboratory tests such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estradiol. If the FSH levels are higher than 35 mIU/ml and the estradiol levels are lower than 80 pg/mL, perimenopause is likely.

Managing Symptoms of Perimenopause

For women who are experiencing the symptoms of perimenopause, there are several options to address them:

• Hormone Therapy: Estrogen can help to manage symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, and vaginal dryness.

• Birth Control Pills: Birth control pills can help to regulate hormones and reduce the symptoms of perimenopause.

• Exercise: Exercise can help to improve mood and reduce physical symptoms.

• Stress Management: Stress can worsen the symptoms of perimenopause, so it’s important to practice stress management.

• Diet: Eating healthy is important for overall health and can help to reduce the symptoms of perimenopause.

• Herbal Supplements: Herbal remedies such as chasteberry, black cohosh, and evening primrose oil may help to alleviate symptoms.

Risks of Untreated Perimenopause

Left untreated, perimenopause can lead to various health risks. These include:

  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Breast cancer
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

It is important to talk to your doctor about any health risks that may be associated with perimenopause.

Perimenopause is a natural stage of life during which a woman undergoes physical and emotional changes related to hormonal levels. Understanding these changes and knowing what to expect can help women to better manage the symptoms of perimenopause. Talking to a doctor about potential treatments and lifestyle changes can also help to reduce the risks associated with untreated perimenopause.

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