Perimenopause 101: All the Basics You Need to Know
It's not just menopause that you need to know about. Women also go through perimenopause, which is the time before menopause where hormone levels change and your body prepares for the changes that will happen during menopause. This post will give you all of the basics you need to know about perimenopause so you can better understand what it is like for women who are going through this transition period in their lives.
What Is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause is a natural transition to the end of reproductive years, often starting in women's 40s. You may notice signs that you are progressing towards menopause such as menstrual irregularity if it starts early or late on your timeline for progression into peri-menopausal stages. However, some women experience changes at an earlier age with symptoms like hot flashes and mood swings by the early-mid 30s.
Some women experience changes in their bodies during perimenopause. Menstrual cycles may become more irregular, and you might even start having periods without ovulating or experiencing menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and sleep problems. There are treatments available to make these changes less uncomfortable for people who suffer from them. Once you've gone through 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period, you're in menopause and the perimenopause is over.
Perimenopause is a confusing time for many women. As you go through the changes that accompany this stage in life, your body's production of estrogen and progesterone, key female hormones rise and fall with different levels causing many side effects such as hot flashes or mood swings.
As many of us know, perimenopause is a normal phase in life. But sometimes it may occur earlier than expected for some women- even if they don't have any particular factors that make this happen, these include:
Smoking is one of the biggest culprits for perimenopause. Studies have shown that women who smoke are not only more likely to develop perimenopausal symptoms, but also tend to experience them earlier than non-smokers do. This is because smoking interferes with estrogen production in the ovaries and can cause early ovarian failure. It's important to note that simply quitting smoking will not immediately reverse any existing perimenopausal symptoms.
Family history is the second factor that influences when you will enter into menopause. Inherited factors from either parent can make it more likely for a woman to experience perimenopause early. In addition, women with close relatives who have experienced menopause prematurely are also at risk because their reproductive system ages faster than average. It's important to note, however, that family history doesn't mean much on its own, it simply increases the chances of developing perimenopause.
When you're going through treatment for cancer, it can be tough. Chemotherapy and pelvic radiation therapy have been linked to early menopause in some women because those treatments seep into estrogen receptors which are located on cells that produce hormones like progesterone or testosterone as well as tissues where they regulate menstrual cycles including ovaries, the womb lining tissue.
A hysterectomy isn't usually the cause of perimenopause, but if you have your uterus and ovaries removed in one surgery it might happen sooner than expected. The only way to tell for sure is by checking with your doctor about what's best for both estrogen levels as well as timing when this happens during different stages throughout life.
How Long Does Perimenopause Last?
The duration of perimenopause varies for each woman, but it can last anywhere from a few months to several years. The average is around four years. In the beginning, you might not even notice that anything has changed because your periods will still be regular at first. But over time, you might notice changes in your periods.
How Is Perimenopause Diagnosed?
If you feel like your periods are starting to change, it’s a good idea to see your doctor. This way they can help determine if what you’re experiencing is perimenopause or something else that may require further treatment. The most common symptom of menopause is irregular menstrual bleeding and the easiest way for doctors to diagnose this condition is by having their patients track their monthly cycle on a calendar so they can look at how much time has passed since the last menstrual period occurred. There isn't any one specific test used during diagnosis as there aren't any blood tests or imaging procedures available that specifically help in diagnosing this condition but various hormone levels such as FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone), LH (luteinizing hormone), and estradiol (estrogen) can help doctors decided as to whether or not you're experiencing perimenopause.
When To See A Doctor?
Some women seek medical attention for their perimenopausal symptoms. But others either tolerate the changes or simply don't experience them severe enough to need attention because they may be subtle and gradually make you unaware at first that all are connected with hormone fluctuations during the menopause transition. You should see a doctor if these changes interfere significantly with life activities such as hot flashes mood swings or sexual function.
It’s time to take charge of your health. The information you learned in this post may have made you very uncomfortable, but women must be aware. If you're experiencing any symptoms or changes mentioned here and would like more insight into what might be happening with your body, please give us a call today for an appointment, we can help.
Do You Need a Perimenopause Specialist in Gilbert, Arizona?
As naturopathic doctors in Gilbert who specialize in women’s health, we hear a lot of stories from women who are not sure what is happening in their bodies. They are 45-50 years old, are exhausted, experience moodiness, depression, or anxiety, and cannot seem to lose weight. If this sounds like you, there is a good chance you are in perimenopause. Offering innovative treatments such as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), Bio-Identical Hormones, testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), Nutrient IVs, Prolotherapy Treatments and emerging alternatives to Stem Cell Therapy that allow us to individualize care for every patient. We pride ourselves on setting the standards of patient care and result-driven treatments. This approach has allowed us to become the leading Naturopathic clinic in Gilbert, Arizona. Our patients return to health and live the life they intended. Contact us today for your first appointment!