Knowing The Symptoms of Perimenopause & How It Differs From Menopause
The Difference Between Perimenopause and Menopause.
Knowing the symptoms of perimenopause will help a woman transition easier during this period in her life. Perimenopause occurs before the end of the ability for a woman to procreate. It’s part of the transitioning of a woman from her fertile years to non-fertile years and the reduction of estrogen – the hormone in women produced by the ovaries.
What is considered perimenopause age can occur as much as ten years prior to full-fledged menopause and during this time the estrogen levels may fluctuate wildly. Menstruation may occur sporadically during the time leading up to the menopausal stage where a woman stops menstruating for good.
Certain symptoms such as heavier menstrual periods, lack of sex drive, headaches and weight gain may accompany the perimenopause changes.
Menopause occurs when estrogen is in such short supply that eggs from the ovaries are no longer discharged and the woman can no longer become pregnant.
The time frame of the transition between perimenopause and the diagnosis menopause is usually one year after the woman has her final period. Some women enter the menopausal stage earlier than others if smoking is part of the lifestyle, she has a family history of early menopause, oophorectomy or hysterectomy has occurred or she has had treatments for cancer.
Both perimenopause and menopause are linked together in the life changes occurring in a woman as she ages, but the symptoms and causes may vary from one woman to the next.
5 Symptoms of Perimenopause
Although the symptoms of perimenopause may vary between women, the overall cause is a lessening of estrogen produced by the ovaries. Here are the top five symptoms which may indicate you’re going through perimenopause:
Heavier than normal flow during menstruation and/or irregular periods.
Weight gain as the metabolism slows down.
Headaches and muscle aches.
Physical changes such as thinning hair and breast tenderness.
Lack of sex drive because of hormonal changes taking place.
Sometimes, women experience menopausal symptoms as they go through perimenopause such as mood swings, hot flashes, “night sweats,” and onset of depression.
Dry skin, fatigue, difficult time sleeping and frequent urination may also be symptoms experienced during perimenopause. Also, beware that both perimenopause and menopause can cause an increased cholesterol level which greatly increases the chances for heart disease.
The onset of perimenopause usually happens ate around the age of 35 and full-blown menopause comes in between 45 and 55. Earlier menstrual periods are usually regular and predictable because ovulation occurs during those peak pregnancy years.
Also, as a woman begins to transition through the perimenopause and menopause years, her eggs are aging and a pregnancy at this point may be more difficult.
As the perimenopause symptoms increase, a woman’s chance of fibroid tumors and breast cancer increases as do weight gain and bone loss. Fatigue may occur during these years, making it more difficult to cope with the demands pregnancy brings.
What Causes Perimenopause?
When your ovaries begin the first phases of stopping to produce the hormone, estrogen, perimenopause begins. These critical and delicate hormones (including testosterone and progesterone) related to reproduction are the cause of the major changes in a woman’s life as she ages. Both perimenopause and menopause are inevitable, but various symptoms may occur.
Besides the internal cause of perimenopause, there are some outside influences causing the onset of perimenopause symptoms. These include lifestyle choices and lifestyle changes occurring as the woman ages.
Such changes and symptoms as control of body temperature, production of eggs and other physical and mental changes can’t be stopped, but management of some symptoms may be possible.
Lifestyle choices may also affect the severity of symptoms in women experiencing perimenopause. Stress for long periods of time – especially emotional – and smoking can cause early onset of perimenopause and menopause.
Outside conditions can cause and produce symptoms of perimenopause
Some outside conditions you may not be able to control include taking chemotherapy and/or radiation for cancer treatment. This can cause damage to the ovaries and bring on symptoms of perimenopause. Many times, the ovaries repair themselves, but that depends on the overall health of a woman and her predisposal for early perimenopause through genetics.
Even though the cause for perimenopause may differ in women, the symptoms remain similar, but may vary in severity.
Change Your Lifestyle to Lessen Effects of Perimenopause
Even if you can’t keep the tides of changes from occurring, it’s possible to make them as gentle as possible. When it comes to perimenopause, there are a few ways to change your lifestyle and deal better with the onset of this transition in life.
Learning to create balance in your life by keeping stress at bay, doing something physical to strengthen your body, get enough sleep and choose a healthy diet are ways you can ensure you have more control over the mental and physical aspects of perimenopause.
You’ll want to do everything you can to physically meet perimenopause in good and vibrant health. One way to ease the transition is to plan regular exercise sessions. This helps you reduce weight gain and build muscle mass which can affect your bone health.
Aerobic activity is important to ensure a healthy heart and metabolism. If you can manage 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week, you’ll feel and look your best during the changes taking place in your body.
Perimenopause may be a time when you want to refocus attention on yourself and help your mental outlook by choosing to do something you always thought you’d enjoy – perhaps a hobby or other passion.
Relaxation techniques can also improve your outlook on life. Meditation, yoga, tai chi and other methods of taking time for yourself are wonderful ways to renew your passion for life.
Health Chats with Dr. Evans: Perimenopause
Join Dr. Evans live as she discusses the symptoms and treatments for Perimenopause. Let's clear up the confusion, review all treatment options and eliminate the symptoms!