A Preview of Coming Attractions — Perimenopause
Women sometimes misunderstand perimenopause. Defined as the transition into menopause, it begins several years before menopause, as the ovaries begin to produce less estrogen. For most women, perimenopause starts when they are in their 40s, but some women can start in their 30s or even earlier. Perimenopause ends, as you would expect, when you enter menopause, where your ovaries stop releasing eggs. It’s during the last one or two years of perimenopause where the drop in estrogen becomes the most pronounced, and this leads to menopause symptoms in many women.
At Women’s Health Medical Group we help our patients navigate the sometimes-turbulent waters of both menopause and perimenopause. Here’s some information about perimenopause.
What are the signs that I am in perimenopause?
Women with decreasing estrogen levels in perimenopause will have some of these symptoms:
- Breast tenderness
- Lower sex drive
- Hot flashes
- Irregular periods
- Vaginal dryness, discomfort during sex
- Urinary incontinence
- Stronger PMS
- Mood swings
- Sleep problems
How long is perimenopause?
The average length of perimenopause is four years, but this is highly variable. Some women enter this stage for only a few months, while others suffer through it for up to a decade. The end comes when your body hasn’t had a period in 12 months, in other words, when you’ve entered menopause.
Is there a point where these annoying symptoms merit worry?
While coping with most of the symptoms of perimenopause is irritating, most of them don’t merit any real cause for concern. Issues such as irregular periods are common. But other conditions can cause changes in menstrual bleeding, and these need attention of a doctor:
- Your periods last several days longer than usual.
- Your periods are very heavy.
- Your periods have blood clots.
- Your periods happen closer together than usual.
- You have spotting after sex.
There are different causes behind these issues, everything from hormone problems to fibroids. But if you have any of these, you need to come see us at Women’s Health Medical Group.
What are some treatment options?
We treat perimenopause symptoms with a variety of approaches tailored specifically to your situation. For many women, a low-dose birth control bill can minimize hot flashes. Others benefit from progesterone injections. We can try different approaches to see what works best for you.
Perimenopause can be a difficult time, especially the last year or two, but don’t think you have to go it alone. Come see us at Women’s Health Medical Group and we can help. Call for an appointment, (817) 346-5336.