Signs perimenopause has arrived
Have you been feeling like you’re riding a hormonal roller coaster? You could be in what is known as perimenopause. This is a normal, transitional stage in a woman’s reproductive life that begins on average, 4 to 5 years before menopause. During this time, your ovaries gradually produce less estrogen, causing follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH) – which are responsible for growing and developing eggs – to rise and menstrual cycles to shorten.
There will come a point when you begin to have certain symptoms signaling you have entered perimenopause. How it progresses is different and unique for every woman. One thing women can know for sure is that menopause is close at hand after symptoms of perimenopause make their appearance. As menopause draws closer, symptoms tend to intensify and worsen within 1 to 2 years both before and after menopause (menopause is when a woman has not had a menstrual cycle for an entire year).
Most women begin perimenopause in their forties but it can start as early as mid-thirties. While it is a perfectly natural phase of a woman’s life, it is not always easy to get through. Many women have many symptoms causing a great deal of suffering while other women experience hardly any symptoms at all.
Signs and symptoms of perimenopause
There can be a whole range of symptoms associated with perimenopause. Any women experiencing any of the symptoms and particularly if they are severe, should always seek out help from her healthcare provider. There are many treatment options that can minimize symptoms of perimenopause so a woman does not have to suffer needlessly. Working with a doctor can help a woman find the best option for her to restore balance in her body during this transitional time in her life.
Here are some of the primary symptoms women may experience:
· Menstrual irregularities – This is one of the more common noticeable signs a woman has begun this phase. Changes can include longer than usual intervals between periods or the flow may be scanty or profuse. Ovulation can become more erratic also. If a woman is experiencing very heavy periods, she may be vulnerable to anemia.
· Hot flashes and night sweats – Between 75 and 85 percent of women will have hot flashes during perimenopause. The intensity, frequency, and duration will vary.
· Sleep problems – Often hot flashes or night sweats are to blame for sleep disturbances or fatigue linked to perimenopause.
· Mood changes – Fluctuating hormones can cause mood swings, depression, and irritability, difficulty handling stress or anxiety.
· Vaginal problems – As estrogen diminishes, vaginal tissue may lose lubrication and elasticity, making intercourse painful or uncomfortable.
· Bladder problems – Lower estrogen levels may leave a woman more vulnerable to urinary tract infections or loss of tissue tone, which may also contribute to incontinence.
· Decreasing fertility – Because ovulation becomes less regular, the ability to conceive may decrease. As long as a woman is still having periods, pregnancy remains a possibility.
· Decreased libido – Sexual desire and arousal may gradually decline, however stresses in life can also play a role, making it essential to reduce stress.
· Body and skin changes – Muscle mass may decrease and body fat may increase as estrogen levels fall. Abdominal fat may increase. A regular exercise program can counter these effects. Lower levels of estrogen may affect the collagen in skin making it thinner and less elastic.
· Loss of bone mass – As estrogen levels declines, bone loss can accelerate faster than it is being replaced increasing a woman’s risk of osteoporosis. Weight bearing exercise and a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D can help keep bones strong.
· Sore breasts – Some women experience painful breasts just prior to and during their periods while others have sore breasts most of the time. Some women may be vulnerable to fibrocystic breasts.
· Migraines – Severe, one-sided headaches often including sharp pain through one eye, seeing auras, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting can also accompany perimenopause.