Have you heard the phrase “perimenopause,” but not sure what that means? Many women were not taught about perimenopause in school, nor is it common for older women to teach younger women about this stage of life. Don’t worry though, we’re writing this blog post so that women can understand what they will eventually go through or get some insight or validation for what they are currently experiencing.
Perimenopause is the beginning stage of menopause when periods become unpredictable and erratic due to a decrease of the hormone estrogen. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the symptoms of perimenopause, when perimenopause begins and ends, hormonal changes, and self-care tips to help you through the transitional period.
The drops in estrogen and progesterone can cause a flurry of unpleasant symptoms including-
Irregular periods: the first sign of perimenopause. The time between periods may shorten or lengthen due to the hormonal change. You may also notice a lighter or heavier flow during your period.
Decreased fertility. Perimenopause can cause your body to skip ovulation (anovulation) making it difficult to become pregnant if you are trying to conceive. Anovulation doesn’t happen with everyone though, so if you are trying to avoid pregnancy, use contraception until you have had 12 months free of periods.
Changes in mood like irritability and depression are common during perimenopause.
Libido changes- getting in the mood can be more difficult while transitioning to menopause. Vaginal dryness as well as discomfort during sex are also common symptoms of perimenopause. Take things slow and use lubrication to prevent further discomfort.
Hot flashes and night sweats can make it hard to sleep well. It is also common for women to develop insomnia as a result of perimenopause.
Brain fog may make it more difficult to focus and can affect your memory.
Heart palpitations can be a more serious symptom of perimenopause and you should let your midwives know if you experience them.
Perimenopause can also increase your risk of osteoporosis, high cholesterol, and heart disease. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and suspect it could be perimenopause, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with our midwives.
Perimenopause- Beginning and End
The age that women begin their perimenopause transition varies from women to women. Some women may begin their transition as early as their mid-30’s and other women may start as late as their mid-50’s with most women becoming perimenopausal around their 40’s. You may be more likely to experience early perimenopause if you are a smoker, have had a hysterectomy, or have a family history of early perimenopause.
Perimenopause begins with changes in your menstrual cycle such as a longer or shorter time in between periods and ends in menopause when you have not had a period for at least 12 months. Perimenopause can last from anywhere between one to eight years with an average of four years.
During perimenopause it can be especially important to focus on your self-care to help ease the discomfort of symptoms and improve your mood. Here are our perimenopausal self-care tips-
Put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others. In other words, put yourself first so that you can feel your best and then you can use your energy to help others.
Eat food that is anti-inflammatory. Inflammation can cause your symptoms to worsen. Make sure to eat food high in Vitamin-D and get 15-20 minutes of sunlight daily to protect your bones from thinning.
Exercising regularly to release endorphins that will help improve your mood.
Rest when you can. This sounds easy enough, but of course can prove difficult with night sweats, insomnia, and stress. If you don't already have a bedtime routine, create one that you practice nightly to help signal your brain when bedtime is.
Hot flashes and night sweats can be challenging to manage. Keep your room cool, take cold showers, or go for a swim to help cool down.
If your symptoms are affecting your daily life, look into Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to help relieve some of the discomfort.
Knowing what postpartum symptoms are normal and which ones can be life threatening is crucial. But it can be difficult to know when to seek medical attention. It’s always best to err on the side of caution, so if you aren’t sure, give our midwives a call and let them know what you are experiencing. So what signs and symptoms should you watch out for?