What is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause is a transitional period where your body goes through a natural transition towards menopause. It is also a sign that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years.
Every woman begins to experience perimenopause at different ages. One of the signs of transition towards menopause is irregular menstrual cycle in your 40s. However, some women begin to experience perimenopause in their mid-30s.
Once you have gone through 12 consecutive months without menstruation, it means that you have reached menopause and ended your perimenopause.
The estrogen levels in your body will rise and fall irregularly during perimenopause, the menstrual cycles may be longer or shorter, and you may also begin to experience ovulation.
You may also experience menopause-like symptoms, such as hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and vaginal dryness. Contact an obstetrician through Smarter Health to find out available treatments that can help alleviate symptoms.
Causes of Perimenopause
During perimenopause, the production of estrogen and progesterone levels will fluctuate. You may go through numerous changes during perimenopause due to decreased estrogen.
Menopause is a normal phase in a woman’s life, but some women can experience it early. There are certain factors that may speed up your perimenopause, including:
- Family history. Women with a family history of early menopause may likely experience the same thing.
- Cancer treatment. Chemotherapy or radiation treatment is often associated with early menopause.
- Smoking. Menopause occurs 1 to 2 years earlier in women who smoke compared to women who do not smoke.
- Hysterectomy or uterine removal procedure. It usually does not cause menopause. Even if you no longer have menstruation, your ovaries still produce estrogen. However, such surgery can lead to early menopause. In addition, early menopause can also occur if one ovary is removed, so the remaining ovaries may stop working sooner.
When to See a Doctor for Perimenopause
Perimenopause is a transition that occurs gradually. No one can determine when you enter the perimenopause. To diagnose perimenopause, your obstetrician will consider various factors, including age, menstrual cycle, symptoms, or any changes in your body.
Some doctors may recommend a test to check your hormone levels to evaluate perimenopause.
Symptoms of Perimenopause
You may go through several changes in your body during perimenopause, such as:
- Irregular menstruation. The time between periods may be longer or shorter, blood flow may be light or heavy, and you may skip some menstrual periods.
- If you have had stable changes for 7 or more days in your menstrual cycle, you are likely to experience premature perimenopause. If you have an interval of 60 days or longer between periods, you are more likely to have delayed perimenopause.
- Hot flashes and sleep problems. Hot flashes often occur during perimenopause with varying intensity and frequency. Sleep problems can be caused by hot flashes or night sweats. Sometimes sleeping schedules become unpredictable even without hot flashes.
- Mood swings. These symptoms may be caused by sleep problems due to hot flashes. Mood swings can also be caused by factors not related to the hormonal changes of perimenopause.
- Vaginal and bladder problems. When the estrogen levels in your body decrease, your vaginal tissue may lose lubrication and elasticity, making it painful during intercourse. You are also more prone to urinary tract or vaginal infections.
- Decreased fertility. When you have irregular ovulation cycles, you have lower chances of getting pregnant. However, you can still expect to get pregnant as long as you continue to have your period.
- Changes in sexual function. Changes in sexual desire can occur during perimenopause.
- Bone loss. Bone loss is faster than replacement, increasing the risk of osteoporosis or brittle bones.
- Changing cholesterol levels. This includes an increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol which increases the risk of heart disease. Meanwhile, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol decreases with age.
Treatment for Perimenopause
Your doctor may recommend therapy to relieve the symptoms of perimenopause. Below are ways to treat the symptoms of perimenopause, including:
- Hormone therapy. Systemic therapy with estrogen becomes the most effective treatment option to relieve hot flashes during perimenopause and menopause, as well as night sweats. Your doctor may give you the lowest dose of estrogen to relieve your symptoms. If you haven’t had a hysterectomy, you also need progestine.
- Vaginal estrogen. Estrogen can be administered vaginally using tablets, rings, or creams to relieve vaginal dryness, discomfort during intercourse, and some urinary problems.
- Antidepressant. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can help reduce hot flashes during menopause. Antidepressants may be useful for women who are unable to perform estrogen therapy due to health reasons or women who have mood disorders.
- Gabapentin (Neurontin). Gabapentin can help treat seizures, but is also shown to help reduce hot flashes. This type of medication can be given to women who cannot use estrogen therapy for health reasons or have migraines.
Treatment Cost for Perimenopause
Treatment cost for perimenopause depends on the type of hormone therapy or certain medications. For more details regarding the estimated treatment cost for perimenopause at home and abroad, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Perimenopause
Menopause is a natural and normal process for every woman as you get older. You cannot prevent menopause, but you can alleviate common symptoms and prevent possible complications.
Prevent perimenopause symptoms by implementing a healthy lifestyle, such as:
- Get enough sleep.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain normal blood pressure.
- Maintain bone health
- Eat healthy foods.
Home Remedies for Perimenopause
Making the following healthy lifestyle choices can help alleviate some symptoms of perimenopause and improve your health as you age:
- Use water-based vaginal lubricants or moisturizer. Choose products that do not contain glycerin, as they can cause burning sensations or irritation if you are sensitive to the material.
- Eat right. The risk of developing osteoporosis and heart disease increases during perimenopause. A healthy diet is more important than ever. Go on a low-fat and high-fiber diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and add high-protein foods to your diet.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity helps prevent weight gain, improve sleep quality, and improve your mood. Exercise for 30 minutes or longer every day of the week.
- Sleep right. Try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages that cause you difficulty in sleeping.
- Practice relaxation techniques. Such techniques include meditation or yoga, ans can improve relaxation and long-term health.
Have more questions about perimenopause? Write tjem down in the comment section below or contact an obstetrician at home and abroad through Smarter Health.