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Menopause and Perimenopause

Updated on May 21, 2018
Pamela99 profile image

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, and lifestyle are all important.

Perimenopause to Full Menopause

As women ages and reaches the perimenopause stage in their lives their ovaries gradually produce less estrogen and progesterone. These hormones control the menstrual cycle. After twelve months without a period they officially enter menopause, which can last from months to years. Menopause is a very natural transition in a woman's life where she will ultimately no longer be able to become pregnant.

Prior to menopause women experience a perimenopause stage, which typically occurs anywhere between 2 and 10 years prior to the end of a woman's periods. This occurs between the age range of 35 and 55 as the amount of hormones are decreasing.

Menopause Hot Flashes

source stoppremenopausalsymptioms
source stoppremenopausalsymptioms

Perimenopausal Symptoms

Perimenopause is totally new for a woman and can be quite unsettling. It is important to understand that literally thousands of women go through this period before they are in full on menopause.

During perimenopausal a woman may experience a variety of symptoms. Often major mood swings that may happen in a matter or seconds may occur. It has been described like someone turns on a light switch where a happy woman is suddenly enraged or crying. The hormone imbalance is the cause of this emotional upheaval. Completely overreacting to minor occurrences with anger is also common.

Other possible symptoms that may occur:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Sleep disturbance and insomnia
  • Urinary issues
  • An elevated heart rate
  • Vaginal dryness or discomfort during sexual intercourse

Women with a long history of PMS tend to have a more difficult time as their hormone imbalances can lead to perimenopausal rage. This is more common in women who do not eat healthy and generally do no live a very healthy lifestyle.

Weight gain is not uncommon during this period of time. The beginning of hot flashes, night sweats and sleeplessness may also begin.

Previous postpartum depression can also be an indicator for a more difficult time with perimenopause and menopause also.

Menopausal Symptoms and Treatments

What are Hot flashes? Physically the body will become very warm, particularly around the neck and chest, plus the skin may become reddened. They may cause profuse sweating. Is is unknown, but the body's control of its temperature comes from the hypothalamus. It is thought that the reduction in estrogen is certainly a factor.

The hormones that all play a factor in aging and menopause include: estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and pregnenolone. When the hormones are out of balance that is when the symptoms of menopause begin.

Hormones can be controlled by birth control pills in most causes. The quality of birth control pills today has greatly advanced compared to twenty years ago. There are many new formulas on the market that you can discuss with your physician.

Antidepressants are also used as necessary, and clearly help someone whose emotions are causing major problems in their lives.

Obviously, if you can have a more upbeat view of menopause that will help with the symptoms, so focus on no possibility of becoming pregnant, no more bloating with fluid retention or stomach cramps, which may let you see the sunny side.

You should see your doctor if your symptoms are very bothersome, as there are other treatments available. Some women sail through menopause with few problems and others find it to be a very difficult time.

National Institute of Health Completed Study

The Woman's Health Initiative began in 1991, consisting of a set of clinical trials to study the long term effects of hormone replace therapy (HRT). The purpose of this fifteen year study was to address the most common causes of death in women, plus disability and poor quality of life following postmenopausal women, which would include cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis.

The design of the clinical trials was to test the effects of hormone therapy, diet modification, calcium intake and vitamin D3 supplements on heart disease, bone fractures due to osteoporosis and cancers, specifically breast and colorectal.

There were two study groups. One was given estrogen plus progestin for women with a uterus, and the other group was given only estrogen if they had no uterus. Estrogen with progestin is known to prevent uterine cancer. In both groups the women were randomly assigned the medication or a placebo.

Symptoms of Menopause

NIH Study Results for HRT

The results for women taking estrogen with progesterone concluded that taking HRT increases your risk of breast cancer, but lowers your risk for colorectal cancer. There was a sharp decline in new breast cancer cases starting in 2003, which may be related to women taking less HRT. The other possible factor for the decline in breast cancer could be woman’s awareness by doing self breast exams and getting more frequent mammograms.

However, when the possible link between breast cancer and hormone therapy was discovered, the women in the study were taken off the therapy and were asked to continue annual mammography. The chart below show the results between the group taking the HRT and the group with the placebo or just estrogen.

Estrogen with progestin results in:

  • An increased risk of heart attacks was found.
  • An increased risk of stroke noted.
  • There was an increased risk of blood clots.
  • The study found an increased risk of breast cancer
  • Women had fewer fractures.
  • There is no protection for mental decline or increased dementia.

Results of taking estrogen alone:

  • There was no differences found in heart attack risk
  • There was an increased risk of stroke.
  • An increased risk of blood clots was found also.
  • The risk of breast cancer was uncertain.
  • There was no difference in the risk for colorectal cancer.
  • There was a reduced risk of bone fractures.

At Peace with Menopause

Source

Hypertension Tips

If you have hypertension, take you prescribed medication, exercise and cut down on your salt intake. To help prevent osteoporosis, take a calcium supplement with vitamin D3, get out into the sunshine and do some weight bearing exercise.

There are also medications, like Fosamox and Actonel that are very effective in preventing further deterioration of your bones. If you do have osteoporosis there are also stronger medications available. Your doctor will probably order a Bond Density study when you are in full menopause.

Of course, it is best not to smoke and also to limit your alcohol intake.

Risk Factors of Heart Disease and Stroke

There are many other factors that have to be considered to prevent heart disease and strokes for women as they age. Physical inactivity, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes are some of the most important things you can change. Life style changes are the key to living a longer, healthier life.

Activity can be a brisk walk regularly around you neighborhood. Following a healthy diet will certainly help you lose weight and control your diabetes. If you are a diabetic, following the recommended diet by the American Diabetes Association will help you control your blood glucose and also to lose weight. Take your mediation as prescribed and check your blood glucose levels as prescribed by your doctor.

Mayo Clinic Study May Help Cool Hot Flashes

Mayo Clinic Recommendation

The good news from the NIH study is for those younger women who had hysterectomies. They took a small dosage of estrogen to help with post menopausal symptoms, and they have significantly less calcium build-up in their coronary arteries, which, of course, is a marker for future heart disease. The benefits were confined to women under the age of 60.

Unfortunately, the result of the NIH study showed the risk of taking HRT is greater than the benefits. The Mayo Clinic states in particular situations that despite the risks, “estrogen is still the gold standard for treating menopausal symptoms.” The benefits of short term therapy is treatment of moderate to severe hot flashes or other menopausal symptoms; if you have lost bone mass and don’t tolerate other treatments; or if you stopped having your periods before age 40 or if you lost normal function of your ovaries (premature menopause).

Women who have premature menopause have a different set of risks than those at 50 or older. They include a reduced risk of breast cancer, a higher risk of osteoporosis, and a higher risk of coronary artery disease. For these younger women estrogen reduces these risks.

To Conclude:

There are menopausal remedies for treating symptoms without taking HRT. It has been shown in several studies that losing weight will help reduce the hot flash symptoms. Some botanical products provide relief as they act like estrogen.

Herbs such as, soy and black cohosh, are two such products. Some antidepressants can be helpful to relieve hot flashes. People find help with acupuncture and other homeopathic remedies as well. Some dietary changes can be beneficial. I am not recommending any of these, but I relaying some of the things I found in my research.

Discuss the problem with your doctor, as there are other prescription medications that may help. There are numerous websites online that discuss homeopathic ways to find relief of symptoms.

Choose the safest possible way to deal with those symptoms and enjoy your life. Find new interests and do some things that maybe you couldn't do when you were tied down with children. Life begins anew each day.

Hormone Therapy

If you are on hormone therapy will the results of the NIH study change your mind?

See results

The copyright, renewed in 2018, for this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.

Comments

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  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Loves to Read, Menopause is certainly more difficult for some than others but thank goodness you are through with the worst of it. I appreciate the comment.

  • Loves To Read profile image

    Loves To Read 

    8 years ago

    Another great hub Pam, it is something that we all go through. The question is just how bad it gets. I suffered the hot flashes over a couple of years which could be quite unpleasant. I would wake up with my pillow soaked and my hair looked like i had just showered. The only other thing that i went through was a lot of emotional tears and feeling like i was totally lost. It is like sort of feeling that you are no longer needed by anyone. But we all get through Thanks for the great info.

    Love and Hugs

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Nancy, It is nice for your to know you will be like you will like your mom. Thanks for the comment.

  • nancy_30 profile image

    nancy_30 

    8 years ago from Georgia

    Thanks for sharing all this very useful information. I'm hoping I will be like my mom and sail through it. The only thing she every really complained about was hot flashes.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Drpastorcarlotta, I'm glad to hear you are making it with natural remedies and prayer. Thanks for sharing. God Bless you.

  • drpastorcarlotta profile image

    Pastor Dr. Carlotta Boles 

    8 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

    I am experiencing it now myself. I take natural remedies for my help and I pray! Not doing to bad! lol, lol, GREAT HUB!!!! Love ya!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Habee, Thanks so much for your comment.

  • habee profile image

    Holle Abee 

    8 years ago from Georgia

    Pertinent info here. Good job researching. Thanks for sharing!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Support-med. Thanks so much for your comments.

  • Support Med. profile image

    Support Med. 

    8 years ago from Michigan

    Definitely lots to think about. The risks are scary. Voted-up/rated.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Ptasetio, I hope your mother enjoys the article. Thanks you so much for your comments.

  • prasetio30 profile image

    prasetio30 

    8 years ago from malang-indonesia

    Good information from you. I'll show this hub to my mother. She should read about this. Good topic selection. Thanks Pamela. I always learn something new from you. Vote this Up. Have a good day!

    Prasetio

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Anginwu, I appreciate you comments very much.

    peacefulparadox, Thanks for letting me know and I will fix it. The NIH website of course has the story as well as several other sites. Thanks for your comment.

  • profile image

    peacefulparadox 

    8 years ago

    Hi Pamela99, I think there is an error in one of your links. The link "fifteen year study" is going to the wrong place. It is taking me to Homeopathy instead.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 

    8 years ago

    Again, great information. Agree with you that a positive outlook can help tide one over. Thanks for sharing.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Dawn, I think your comments are right on target and I appreciate them.

    DiamondRn, Hope your wife gets some relief soon. Has she tried any of the homeopathic remedies? Thanks for your comments.

    Audry, No, it doesn't last forever. I've know people who's symptoms weren't consistent with sometimes being worse than others. It sounds like you are doing all the right things. Thanks for your comments.

  • akirchner profile image

    Audrey Kirchner 

    8 years ago from Washington

    I believe a lot of it is mental to be honest....not that the SYMPTOMS are! Having personal summers whenever and wherever has to be the absolute worst! But you get through it - I'm currently having a bit of my own personal summer attacks and I thought I was done with all that.

    I have a friend who has a terrible history of breast cancer in her family and she insists on taking hormones. I keep waiting for something awful to come of it and hope it doesn't! I think I'd rather be a weeping bowl of cherries than subject my body to hormones so decided a long while ago just to go along my merry way.

    Great info - on a real problem - it would be nice if we could all just pull the world in over our heads and hide out while we went through it - no such luck! I do find that exercise, sleep, and eating the right things helps a LOT and I have had relatively few symptoms. The hot flashes and the crying have to be the worst though!

    It can't last forever though right???

  • DiamondRN profile image

    Bob Diamond RPh 

    8 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

    My poor wife. She is getting hit with it big-time.

  • dawnM profile image

    Dawn Michael 

    8 years ago from THOUSAND OAKS

    Great information and I do know that during menopause, if you are able to be active and exercise it will help to maintain a better sex life for the woman along with increasing serotonin levels with is so beneficial when all of the hormones are going bonkers.

    I learned a lot from this hub and thank-you for touching on this very importatn subject.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Katiem, Hope you do sail through. Thanks for your comments.

  • katiem2 profile image

    katiem2 

    8 years ago from I'm outta here

    I was really glad to hear some women sail through this process in life, I'll imagine myself being one of those lucky ones. Thanks for Menopause another step in aging. No matter your age we can all benefit from this knowledge.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Carolina, Thanks for your comment.

    Hello, You made some good points in your comment. Thanks.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 

    8 years ago from London, UK

    I had none of the other symptoms but I felt like a watertap turned on and not off for 10 days then 3 days and then another 10 days. People told me about HRT but then other people told me not to do it. Heavy peiords are better which made sense to me and I never did HRT. Why do we have to have everything? The only good thing that men have to shave every day. Thank you for your wonderfully written hub.

  • carolina muscle profile image

    carolina muscle 

    8 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

    Great hub!!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Lorie, I have the same story. My mother and sister had a terrible time but no big deal for me. Thanks so much for your comments.

  • lorlie6 profile image

    Laurel Rogers 

    8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

    Wonderfully done, Pamela! I have sailed through menopause with nary a flash, and I was concerned my entire life-my mother suffered terribly.

    Genetics! Who knows?

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    wavegirl, Thanks so much for your comments.

  • wavegirl22 profile image

    Shari 

    8 years ago from New York, NY

    Pamela - looks like you really did your research. This is for sure one Hub I am bookmarking! Rated up and useful:)

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    SpecialK, I think natural is always the best thing to try first at least. Thanks for the comments.

    RevLady, I think it might be because you are a blessed lady. Thank you for your comments. God Bless.

  • RevLady profile image

    RevLady 

    8 years ago from Lantana, Florida

    Like my mother, I did not experience menopause. Funny, I kept waiting for it to hit, but it never did. At least, not yet and I should be past the age for it to start.

    Your hub was informational and helpful to know, if not for myself, for others.

    Peace and joy!

    Forever His

  • Specialk3749 profile image

    Karen Metz 

    8 years ago from Michigan

    I know this time is just around the corner! This summer I have been soooooo hot! LOL If it isn't the beginning of perimenopuase, I hate to think what menopause will be like. I plan on going as natural as possible. Thanks for the great information.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    2besure, Thanks so much for your comments. Maybe they will help someone else in choosing what treatment to use.

  • 2besure profile image

    Pamela Lipscomb 

    8 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

    I am about 8 years into menopause, and doing a lot better. When it fist started I would just burst into a sweating jag at a minutes notice. It was so embarrassing. I use herbs like black cohash and wild yam room which helps alot!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Darlene, I am glad this was a good hub for your. Thank you for your comments,

    Sandy, Thanks so much for your comment.

  • Sandyspider profile image

    Sandy Mertens 

    8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

    Good information on menopause.

  • Darlene Sabella profile image

    Darlene Sabella 

    8 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

    Pamela, this is such an outstanding hub, this was the beginning of the end for me, I would go outside and stand in the snow...so many changes happened to me in my life, this is really an important read for all to read. Thumbs up my dear friend...

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