How to Know if You are Perimenopausal?
By Tricia Blake
Being a woman means experiencing a variety of hormonal stages that affect your body in many ways. The menstrual cycle can start and early as eight years old and ends for most by the age of 51. The end of the cycle is called menopause it marks the end of the female reproduction.
What are the Different Stages within Menopause?
One of these stages is the perimenopause, which is defined as “around menopause” and is also known as the menopause transitional phase.
It is the stage before menopause, perimenopausal refers to the time when your body enters the natural transition to menopause. The level of estrogen in your body in this stage rises and falls unevenly, making your menstrual cycle longer or shorter. You may have menstrual cycles in which your ovaries do not release an egg.
You’ll know when your perimenopause period is over and you have entered menopause when you’ve gone through 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period.
How to Know If You’re in the Perimenopausal Stage?
The perimenopausal stage takes place at different ages for different women. You may notice some signs of progression towards menopause like a menstrual irregularity in your early 40s or as early as mid-30s. Most begin to notice changes in there late 40’s.
Irregular periods are the most common thing you will notice. Your ovulation will become unpredictable and the length of time between periods may be longer or shorter —skipping periods might become standard. If you experience a persistent change of seven days or more in your menstrual cycle length, you may have early perimenopause.
On the other hand, if you have a space of 60 days or more between periods, then you might be in late perimenopause. Consider using a menstrual cup alternative like the daisy cup which might help you go through this irregular periods stage worry-free.
You can go for months without a period when you are perimenopausal. If you miss a period and aren’t using contraception, take a test to make sure that you aren’t pregnant or check with your doctor.
What are the Symptoms of Menopause Transition (Perimenopause)?
Vaginal Dryness: Due to diminishing estrogen levels, the lubrication and elasticity of your vagina is affected. Your vaginal tissue may become dry, this can make sexual intercourse painful. And this makes you vulnerable to urinary or vaginal infections. Your doctor can prescribe medications to help, and you can buy over the counter vaginal lubricants.
Hot Flashes and Sleep Problems. The intensity, regularity, and length in hot flashes may vary. The sleep problems are often caused due to hot flashes or night sweats, but there are times sleep becomes unpredictable even without hot flashes. Consider bedding which helps regulate your body temperature, or a cooling pad to sleep on.
Mood Swings. Mood changes often occur during perimenopause, often this causes irritability. You also have an increased risk of depression during perimenopause. Be sure to seek medical help is needed.
Tender Breasts. Tenderness of your breasts might occur due to the hormonal changes in your body.
Thinning hair: Usually this is not extreme and requires no treatment. If needed there are many treatments available for thin hair and hair loss for women.
Dryness of the skin: Time to step up the use of moisturizers for your face and body.
Lower sex drive: Hormone fluctuation directly affects your sex drive.
Weight gain: Estrogen helps control body weight, it is involved in regulating metabolic rate and blood sugar, and processing starches. As estrogen level drop the closer one gets to menopause, weight gain can become a problem.
Are there tests to see if I’m Perimenopausal (in Menopause Transition) or done with Menopause?
No, because your hormone level can fluctuate daily, so there is no reliable blood test to diagnosis perimenopause or menopause. In the U.S the average woman has gone through all the stages of menopause by age 51.