Perimenopause: Signs of the Menopause Transition
Perimenopause is the time in a woman’s reproductive life when her body transitions to permanent infertility. To learn more about this stage of menopause, read on.
What is Perimenopause?
Are you a woman in her midlife years? Have you noticed subtle, or maybe obvious, changes in your mood and body?
Is something "not quite right" but you cannot put a finger on the cause? You may be experiencing signs of perimenopause.
Perimenopause is the time in your reproductive life when your body begins the transition to permanent infertility. It is also called the menopause transition.
The changes you are experiencing are normal and natural. To better understand this time in your life, keep reading.
Women experience perimenopause at different ages. Most women notice the signs when they are in their 40s or early 50s. However, some women start to see changes in their 30s.
Perimenopause can last from a few months to several years. Most women have symptoms for about four years, until their ovaries stop releasing eggs and they stop having menstrual periods. Until then, assume that you are fertile and can still get pregnant.
Perimenopause ends when you have gone an entire year, or 12 consecutive months, without a menstrual period. This is the official start of menopause, commonly called "the change of life."
Irregular menstrual periods are often the first sign of perimenopause. Other common symptoms include hot flashes and night sweats, vaginal dryness, sleep problems, depression, weight gain, and low libido. Lactose intolerance and nausea are less common symptoms that affect some women.
The physical and emotional changes of perimenopause stem from diminishing levels of estrogen and progesterone, the key female sex hormones. Low testosterone symptoms are more subtle. Fortunately, treatments exist to alleviate these symptoms and provide some relief.
Doctors may prescribe drug therapy for perimenopause symptoms. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), vaginal estrogen, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants are common perimenopause treatments.
You may prefer natural remedies and lifestyle changes to treat your perimenopause symptoms. Many women do. Black cohosh, plant estrogens, and bioidentical hormones are popular alternative treatments.
Healthy eating, regular exercise, over-the-counter lubricants, weight control, stress management, and adequate sleep can also ease your symptoms and improve your overall health.
What is your experience with perimenopause symptoms? Leave a comment below and join the conversation. If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your social networks.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (April 20, 2013) "Perimenopause." Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
- NIH Staff. (October 2010). "Mystified by Menopause?" NIH: News in Health. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
- Ratini, Melinda. (June 11, 2012) "Perimenopause." WebMD Medical Reference. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
The information presented in this article is not intended as health or medical advice, nor is it a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment by a qualified medical professional.
© 2013 Annette R. Smith