I’ve been getting a lot of interest in the article “Pregnancy or Perimenopause?” that I wrote several months ago. This prompted me to realize that there are a lot of people curious about this natural life event, so I thought I’d share what I know, in case it helps.
Oddly, I’ve found that a lot of doctors don’t even mention the term to their patients and I think it’s an important part of life that is worth understanding.
The previous article discusses ways that could help you affirm if you are pregnant or in perimenopause (suggesting different tests available to you before your doctor’s appointment and how to choose them). This article will focus on some resources that will help you understand perimenopause.
What is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause is when your body starts to go through “the change,” but you have not reached full menopause yet. It can last for years before full menopause occurs. It may only last a few months, but it may be over 10 years before full menopause is reached. (Menopause is considered “reached” when you have gone 12 months without a period). Some refer to it as “menopause transition.” According to Cleveland Clinic, most women can expect it to take 8 – 10 years to complete it’s cycle.
Is It the Same as “Premenopause?”
No, premenopause is when you have no symptoms of menopause and are still considered to be in your reproductive years.
Why Does it Happen?
Perimenopause occurs as your ovaries start to make less estrogen and your releasing of ovary eggs has slowed.
Can I Still Get Pregnant During Perimenopause?
Yes. You are still ovulating, therefore, you can still get pregnant.
When Can I Expect Perimenopause to Occur?
For most women, perimenopause starts in their 40s, but some women can start experiencing it in their 30s or even earlier.
What are the Symptoms of Perimenopause?
As with any new symptoms, you should always discuss changes with your doctor. It’s also important that you continue seeing your gynecologist for regular check-ups. Here are a list of symptoms commonly associated with perimenopause:
- Irregular periods
- Unusual period (heavier or lighter than normal)
- Worsening PMS
- Breast tenderness
- Frequent need to urinate and/or slight incontinence (leaking when laughing or coughing)
- Dry skin (everywhere)
- Irritability and mood swings
- Hot or cold flashes
- Night sweats
- Dry eyes
- Dry mouth
- Changes in cholesterol levels
- New aches and pains in joints and muscles
- Libido changes
- Difficulty concentrating or memory lapse
- Weight gain or weight shift
- Thinning hair
- Racing heart
Perimenopause can take you on a roller coaster ride of physical and emotional changes. The above listed are just some of the more common symptoms. Among the hundreds of women I’ve spoken to, health anxiety is really common. Our bodies go through an enormous change. The good news is, most women seem to report that a lot of the symptoms ease once you’re past menopause.
This is one of the best articles that I’ve read on Perimenopause. It’s written by Dr Christiane Northrup and is quite uplifting on the subject. It takes a positive approach to this new life change and is well worth the read.
Cover photo courtesy of FreePik, artist Katemanostar