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Perimenopause

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Introduction

Menopause is the event in a woman’s life when menstrual cycles cease marking the end of reproduction officially. The term Perimenopause means the transition time to prepare your body for menopause. The onset of perimenopause may be different for every woman. Sometimes, this transition starts in your mid or late 30s or 40s.

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What is Perimenopause?

Perimenopause is the time around which menopausal symptoms begin. The female hormone, estrogen, sees sharp ups and downs during this period. The Perimenopause period may have many changes, among which hormonal change is one of the most distinct markers. Perimenopause leads to many changes in the body.

What are the Causes of Perimenopause?

Perimenopause is a result of low levels of estrogen, and this also triggers fluctuation in progesterone levels.

What are the Symptoms of Perimenopause?

  • Irregular Menstrual Cycle: The ovulation cycle becomes irregular and unpredictable. The length of your periods may also shorten due to the transition. If there is a long, frequent gap in your two cycles, this may be a sign of Perimenopause. However, this may also be due to other underlying problems.
  • Changes in mood/mood swings: You may experience mood changes or persistent mood swings due to decreased hormone levels. Irritability and mild depression may occur due to Perimenopause.

If you experience these signs in your late 30s or early 40s, it may point to a transition in your body. But mood changes may not always be associated with a hormonal change in the body.

  • Decreased fertility level: Transition due to Perimenopause causes reduced fertility. Though pregnancy is possible, it may be difficult due to low estrogen levels. Once the gap between two periods becomes 12 months or more, it marks menopause.
  • Change in sexual desire: Lack of female hormones leads to changes in sexual desire. You may experience reduced interest in sexual activity during this period.
  • Fragile bones: With age, you may notice the density of your bones may deteriorate. A healthy diet with increased vitamin D consumption and other vital supplements can help deal with deteriorating bone health. Weak bones may pose a risk of developing osteoporosis.
  • High cholesterol: You may notice changes in your good and bad cholesterol levels. An increase in bad cholesterol can cause heart problems.

Some of the other symptoms may also include hot flushes, breast tenderness, fatigue, vagina dryness, and sleeping problems.

  • Hot flashes: With the change in hormonal levels, you may experience hot flashes at night. Some women also experience night sweats and disturbed sleep, which may lead to insomnia. Tight clothes, alcohol consumption, spicy foods, and warm temperatures can trigger hot flashes.
  • Frequent vaginal or urinary tract infection: There may be changes in the vagina, such as lack of elasticity and dryness leading to pain during intercourse. Reduced estrogen levels can pose the risk of vaginal infections and urinary tract infections, and you may have frequent urges to urinate.
  • Metabolism: You may experience sudden weight gain due to reduced metabolism; this may cause body image issues and manifest other conditions.
  • Skin: Perimenopause not just causes vaginal dryness but may lead to dry and itchy skin. In some cases, women complain of dry eyes and mouth.

Some women also experience symptoms such as

  • ● Increased heart rate and anxiety
  • ● Painful muscles and joints
  • ● Leakage while sneezing or coughing
  • ● Pain while urination
  • ● Inability to concentrate
  • ● Excessive sweating
  • ● Redness of face
  • ● Hair fall or thinning of hair
  • ● Lack of energy
  • ● Bleeding in urine

What are the Complications of Perimenopause?

Perimenopause affects overall health. You may need to get in touch with the doctor if you experience the following:

  • ● Excessive bleeding
  • ● Extended periods for seven days or more
  • ● Bleeding in between two cycles
  • ● Periods occur with shorter intervals

How is Perimenopause Diagnosed?

Based on your symptoms, the doctor may diagnose the condition. He/she may also order blood tests to check hormone levels.  As hormone levels fluctuate during Perimenopause, many blood tests for comparison may be required.

How is Perimenopause Treated?

Taking birth control pills may help with managing some symptoms of Perimenopause.

You can make some changes in lifestyle to avoid early menopause, such as

  • ● Daily exercise for at least 30 minutes
  • ● Healthy and nutritious meals
  • ● If you smoke, quit
  • ● Limit your alcohol consumption
  • ● Practice meditation and relaxation to deal with mood swings
  • ● Get enough sleep
  • ● Consume meals enriched with calcium and vitamin D to ensure bone health
  • ● Lose weight if obese
  • ● Wear comfortable clothing
  • ● Cardio workout and lift weights
  • ● Stay hydrated to deal with dryness
  • ● Avoid consumption of spicy food
  • ● Increase consumption of foods like soy as it contains plant-based estrogen

What are the Risks Associated with Perimenopause treatments?

  • Unhealthy lifestyle and stress: Stress and changes in lifestyle are major contributors to changing hormone levels
  • Smoking: Smoking may prepone menopause by a few years compared to women who do not smoke
  • Family history: Genetics can play a role in deciding your approximate age to face menopause
  • Chemotherapy: If you have undergone chemotherapy, you may likely face early menopause
  • Removal of the uterus: It is also known as hysterectomy. If you had your uterus removed due to certain medical conditions, you might notice a change in hormonal levels and early menopause than other women

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FAQ's

Is Perimenopause the Same as Menopause?

Perimenopause is the stage before you reach menopause. This phase brings many changes in a woman’s body, such as irregular periods, hormonal fluctuations, mood swings, and more.

Can Genetics Play a Role in Perimenopause?

Genetics may have an impact on Perimenopause. If your family member had early signs of Perimenopause, you are likely to develop the same.

How Perimenopause Affects Mental Health?

Due to hormonal changes, you may experience mood swings, irritability. However, practicing relaxation yoga and meditation may help to manage these symptoms.

Can you Conceive During Perimenopause?

Yes, you can conceive even when in Perimenopause. But, you may have some complications during pregnancy.

Is it Possible to Reverse Perimenopause?

Perimenopause is not reversible. With the right treatment and lifestyle changes, you can manage the symptoms.

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