What is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause describes the time preceding full menopause during which you have not had a period or regular bleeding for twelve months. It is a time when your body begins to slow down the production of certain hormones, namely estrogen, and progesterone and it is also a time signaling the loss fertility. Some women have only minor symptoms and pass through this phase of little with little discomfort but other women have much more pronounced symptoms.
What are the signs of perimenopause?
Here are some signs indicating the onset of the perimenopausal period:
Changes to your normal menstrual cycle (longer/shorter durations, a change to the volume- heavier or lighter bleeding, or periods being skipped)
Nighttime sweating (during sleep)
Erratic sleep patterns
Moods swings (depression, irritability)
An increase if urinary infections
Losing of sex drive
Accumulation of extra body fat at the waist
Problems with memory and concentration
How long will perimenopause last?
The duration of the perimenopausal period will vary from woman to woman. Actual menopause happens between the ages of 45 to 55 with the average age being 51. But perimenopause has been known to start as early as 35 and can go on for just a few months or sometimes even a few years. There is no advance warning of its onset and no known way of predicting how long it will go on for.
The prevention or relief of the perimenopause
Unfortunately, there is no known prevention for the onset of perimenopause, but certain things may help to delay the onset such as quitting smoking if you are a smoker, keeping physically fit, and keeping your weight aligned with your BMI. In terms of relieving some of the symptoms, you can:
Use a vaginal lubricant to counteract dryness and pain during intercourse.
Analyze and avoid anything you isolate as possible causes of hot flushes such as caffeine or alcohol.
Discuss depression, irritation, anxiety and mood swings with your doctor who may be able to prescribe medication to help.
Treatments for Perimenopause
A complete and full medical is recommended before embarking on any course of medication or therapy to help to deal with the symptoms of perimenopause. Your doctor will almost certainly insist in this anyway. Estrogen or estrogen-progestogen therapies have long been prescribed for perimenopausal symptoms; however, in light of more recent links to cancer causation, this has fallen out of favor. Instead, low dose oral contraceptive medication may be prescribed. This not only helps treat the hot flashes, but also helps to regulate any irregular menstrual flow. This treatment can delay the need for full blow HRT (hormone replacement therapy) until full menopause commences. EPT (Estrogen Progestogen Therapy) has been developed to lessen the cause of cancer if you are experiencing natural menopause rather than medical menopause brought on by surgery. For any therapy including estrogen, your doctor will probably prescribe a lose dose variant for only a short period of time.
If you think you may be entering into perimenopause, be prepared for some changes. Some good, some bad. Make sure to see a doctor and see what he recommends. Family history plays a role in how soon, how long and how severe your new change of life phase may last so ask your Mom how things went for her. The most important thing to do is be good to yourself. Try to get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, and try to reduce stress. Friends who you can commiserate and laugh with can be an excellent source of support.