Perimenopause: Know What To Expect (And When To Visit Your Doctor)

It’s a term many women have been hearing about for years—the change of life. Although this euphemism may seem tired and clichéd, it nevertheless reveals a major truth: menopause is, indeed, a pivotal change in a woman’s life both physically and emotionally. However, what has received less attention than it should is the period leading up to menopause, also called perimenopause. This is a time when women can begin to prepare themselves for this massive change and start to transition their lifestyles to ease this along (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/perimenopause/basics/definition/CON-20029473).

What is perimenopause?
Perimenopause is the time period that begins a few years before a woman actually enters menopause. At this time, the ovaries are still producing estrogen, but it is doing so at a rate that is much lower than normal; in fact, this decrease will speed up at a more rapid rate the closer a woman gets to being menopausal. This transition will last until a woman reaches menopause and her body stops releasing eggs and she stops having monthly periods. Because women start menopause at a different point in their lives, it is hard to pin down an exact age when perimenopause will begin, but usually it is from late 30s to early 40s.

Perimenopause symptoms
The signs of perimenopause can, in some cases, mimic the symptoms of actual menopause. These can include breast swelling and tenderness, hot flashes, mood swings, urinary leakage and urgency, as well as a lower sex drive and vaginal dryness. These can, in turn, lead to trouble sleeping and severe tiredness. However, what distinguishes perimenopause from actual menopause is that a woman still gets her monthly periods.

During perimenopause, periods may be quite irregular and in some cases can involve heavy bleeding and even clotting. If you are experiencing these extreme types of periods or are having spotting between periods or after sex, then you should contact your doctor to rule out other possible causes such as hormone problems, pregnancy, blood clots, or tumors.

Treatments
There is no way to stop perimenopause any more than there is a way to stop menopause from happening. However, there are ways to reduce the symptoms of perimenopause including the use of low-doses of birth control pills or injections to ease hot flashes. Women are also encouraged to quit smoking and drinking and to pursue a healthier lifestyle with proper diet and exercise as this may help ease some of the problems they may experience.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Who Needs a Colposcopy?

Pelvic exams are a normal part of a checkup, and if the results reveal abnormal results, further testing may be necessary. A colposcopy is one way to determine what abnormal tests can mean. Read on to find out more.

I’m Not Ready To Have a Baby. What Are My Options?

Having a child is a major step in your life, and for a wide variety of personal reasons, you may simply not be ready to take that step. If you are sexually active but not ready for children, there are plenty of options available. Keep reading to learn more

I Had an Abnormal Pap Smear. What Should I Do Next?

Pap smears are a normal part of a woman’s life. If your results are normal, everything’s fine and you get on with your life until the next test. But what happens if you get abnormal results? What does it mean and what should you do? Read on to learn more.

Are You Following These Postpartum Instructions?

Having a baby is a wondrous event, but it can take a toll on you. Knowing how to take care of yourself once you leave the hospital is vital to bonding with your newborn and starting your new life happy and healthy. Keep reading to learn more!

Adjusting to Life With Menopause

Menopause is the life after your body is no longer able to reproduce and stops producing hormones. Adjusting to life in menopause takes time as your body changes, but understanding what you’re going through will help.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

In the earliest stages of child care, health and nutrition are vital for your infant. Breastfeeding is a safe, natural way to provide both. Read on to learn the benefits of breastfeeding for you and your baby.