Perimenopause or pre menopause in women indicates that menopause stage is nearing. Irregular menstruation and change in blood flow are typical signs of pre menopause. Look through this article to get an insight on what is perimenopause, its symptoms and how to deal with it.
Perimenopause is a phase just before menopause, which is characterized by reduced production of estrogen hormone by the ovaries. On the other hand, menopause is the stage when menstrual cycle ends or the ovaries stop producing eggs. As a consequence of reduced estrogen in perimenopause, there is an unpredictable change in the way ovulation occurs. Also, symptoms of perimenopause mimic that of menopause.
As far as perimenopause age is concerned, it begins several years before the actual menopausal time. Thus, this transition phase usually occurs in women who are in their 40s (or late 30s in some cases). On an average, the phase continues for 4 years, which is followed by menopause. Nevertheless, exceptions do occur, and women experience perimenopause symptoms for less than a year, or as long as 10 years.
At the onset of perimenopause, mild changes occur in the woman’s body. Needless to mention, the estrogen hormone plays a crucial role in ensuring normal bodily functions. With reduced estrogen level, they get disturbed, resulting in various health problems. Nonetheless, the signs and symptoms of perimenopause are manifested differently for each woman. To understand perimenopause better, refer to the following signs that accompany this transitional period.
- An obvious sign that is exhibited by all women who enter perimenopause is irregularity of menstruation. The cycle may become shorter, and at times longer. In the same way, less blood flow, heavy bleeding and skipping periods are associated with perimenopause.
- Similar to menopause, women in perimenopause are susceptible to depression and sudden mood swings. They become emotionally weak and irritable, which may be because of hormonal fluctuations and general discomfort symptoms.
- Excessive sweating, hot flashes and sleep disorders are other indications of perimenopause. While some report increased sweating only at night (night sweats), others have it at both day and night. Women in this phase may feel a sudden sensation of heat that lasts for a few seconds.
- The reduced production of estrogen hormone is indirectly linked to increased levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (also known as bad cholesterol). Thus, perimenopause is often associated with high cholesterol, which should be monitored properly.
- In the fertility years, normal secretion of estrogen hormone occurs, which in turn helps in keeping the vaginal area well lubricated. As this hormone level is declined in pre menopause, vaginal dryness and increased risks to vaginal infections are expected signs.
- As ovulation is no longer normal, the chances of fertilization and/or conception are reduced greatly. To be more precise, women in the perimenopause age group have decreased fertility and there is less probability to become pregnant.
- Some women report changes in the sexual habit and experience reduced libido during this transition phase. Lowered estrogen hormone levels may lead to bloating, stomach discomfort, loss of bone and water retention problems. Other signs of discomfort include breast tenderness, urinary incontinence and urinary tract infections.
How to Deal with Perimenopause?
This transitional phase between fertility and menopause can be confirmed by analyzing the manifested symptoms. During early perimenopause, the period of menstrual cycle is shortened or extended by about a week’s period. With passing months and during the late perimenopause, the time span between two successive periods may be 2 months or more. Of course, there will be other accompanying symptoms as well. Also, the doctor may urge you to get your blood work done for testing Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) level concentration.
The solutions for perimenopause are concentrated upon balancing hormones to regulate ovulation and menstrual cycle. Incorporating phytoestrogen foods and herbs (called dietary estrogen) is a natural approach for alleviating symptoms. Good sources of phytoestrogen are black cohosh, clove, oilseeds, cereals, soy products, etc. Indulging in deep breathing exercises, body relaxation techniques and regular physical activities are suggested for combating perimenopause symptoms in the natural way.
It is found that taking mild dose of contraceptive pills is effective for managing symptoms that come along with perimenopause. In case of addressing severe discomfort conditions, hormone replacement therapy is a reliable approach. But, both birth control pills and hormonal therapy are associated with adverse reactions. So, to decide appropriate treatment options for perimenopause and to avoid unusual side effects, taking help from a trusted gynecologist is recommended for women who are currently in this phase.