Perimenopause also known as menopause transition, begins a few years before menopause and ends a year after your last menstrual period.
Women can experience perimenopause in her 40s or even earlier. It all depends on an individual woman’s estrogen levels. This process could last several years with the last 1-2 years being the most common time when women experience symptoms.
Read on to learn what to expect during perimenopause including the 9 most common symptoms.
Signs of Perimenopause
There are various signs and symptoms of perimenopause that are both physical and emotional. Here are the 9 most common perimenopausal symptoms.
1. Changes to Your Period
One of the first signs of perimenopause is changes to your usual menstruation cycle. Your periods may get shorter or longer, become irregular or change in the flow level.
You will likely miss a period or two but you might also begin to have a much heavier flow than you’ve had in the past. If your period was regular before (say every 28 days) during perimenopause, it can become unpredictable.
Some women experience spotting before and after their period.
2. Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
Sudden waves of intense body heat that can last 5-10 minutes is one of the most common symptoms of perimenopause. Estimates say that up to 80% of women experience hot flashes.
These hot flashes can happen anytime during the day but are most often at night. The degree of them varies from woman to woman. Some women feel their cheeks flush warm while others end up drenched in sweat.
Hot flashes may last up a year or more after menopause. Your doctor might recommend estrogen hormone-therapy or other medication if your symptoms are severe.
Deep breathing, dressing in layers you can take off and put on as needed and avoiding caffeine and alcohol can all help ease hot flashes.
3. Vaginal Dryness
Because your body is producing less estrogen, a common side effect of perimenopause is vaginal dryness. Lower estrogen levels can cause the vaginal tissues to become dry and thin.
Dryness in the vagina will feel itchy or irritated and can cause sex to be painful. Vaginal dryness is often a contributing factor for decreased sex drive in perimenopausal women.
Over-the-counter vaginal lubricants can help. These can be safely used daily for dryness relief and can also be used prior to intercourse as an internal lubricant.
Your doctor may also prescribe a low-dose contraceptive or vaginal estrogen to relieve vaginal dryness.
4. Decreased Sex Drive
During perimenopause, a woman’s hormones fluctuate. Before perimenopause, a woman will experience a peak in libido right before and after ovulation. But with the changes in periods, those days of desire can disappear.
Less estrogen also means there is less blood flow to the vagina. This also reduces desire.
Yet, during perimenopause, receptive desire (in other words, being turned on by your partner) remains possible.
For this and other perimenopausal symptoms, Yunique Medical provides hormone replacement therapies, peptides, nutrient injections, and functional medicine.
5. Trouble Sleeping
Many women have trouble falling or staying asleep. This can be caused in part by hot flashes and night sweats.
It is important to note that sleep problems affect both men and women as they age. So it’s not possible to pin trouble sleeping on just perimenopause. There could be various factors involved.
Lack of sleep can lead to changes in mood, difficulty with memory, and weight gain. If you are not sleeping as well as you used to during perimenopause, speak to your doctor about insomnia medication.
6. Weight Gain and Increased Waist Circumference
Perimenopausal women often begin to note added fat around the waist as well as putting on weight. This extra fat and weight can be difficult to lose so it’s best to limit it before it becomes a problem.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes hemp protein, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep will all help keep your weight in check. If you are physically active and still putting on weight, you may need to up your activity level to combat the decreased hormone levels.
Remember, weight gain happens as people age, not only in women but also in men. But excess pounds aren’t unavoidable. You can stop the middle age spread by improving your lifestyle.
7. Urinary Problems
Perimenopausal women are more prone to urinary tract infections. Urinary incontinence and being unable to control one’s bladder are also signs of perimenopause.
8. Mood Changes
As perimenopause is a time of hormone fluctuation and change, it’s no surprise that many women report changes in their mood as well as irritability, anxiety, a constant feeling of sadness and so on.
Some perimenopausal women report that they feel like they are in PMS all the time.
You can help reduce these symptoms by making the needed lifestyle changes. Include regular exercise as part of your weekly routine and learn how to manage your stress and tension.
Now is a good time to nurture friendships, find creative outlets and take up self-calming practices such as yoga and mindfulness.
9. Hair Loss
You may begin to experience thinning hair on your scalp. Be kind to your hair and avoid roughly brushing your hair.
Give your hair a rest from elastics and tight hairstyles. Avoid heat such as curling wands and hair dryers as much as possible.
Heading into menopause can be a challenging, unpredictable phase of a woman’s life.
Being aware of the possible changes and mentally preparing for perimenopause can go a long way in helping women cope with this period of time.
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