Are My Perimenopausal Symptoms Normal Or Something To Be Concerned About
Irregular periods are common and normal during perimenopause. But other conditions can cause changes in menstrual bleeding. If any of the following situations apply to you, see a doctor to rule out other causes:
- Your periods are very heavy, or they have blood clots.
- Your periods last several days longer than usual.
- You spot between periods.
- You have spotting after sex.
- Your periods happen closer together.
How Long Does Perimenopause Last
The length of each stage of the menopause transition can vary for each individual. The average length of perimenopause is about four years. Some women may only be in this stage for a few months, while others will be in this transition phase for more than four years. If you have gone more than 12 months without having a period, you are no longer perimenopausal. However, if there are medications or medical conditions that may affect periods, it can be more difficult to know the specific stage of the menopause transition.
Menopause Symptoms At Age 40
For the vast majority of women, menopause symptoms dont start this early. If menopause happens before age 40, its called premature menopause. If it happens between age 40 and age 45, its known as early menopause. Fewer than 10 percent of women experience premature or early menopause.
But if youre in your early 40s and are regularly experiencing symptoms such as changes to your periods timing or flow, hot flashes, mood changes or sleep problems, dont ignore them. Talk with a womens health specialist.
A specialist like an OB-GYN or certified nurse-midwife can work with you to determine whether your symptoms are related to menopause, or another reason such as hormonal disorders or other health conditions.
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What Are The First Signs Of Menopause
We always say that checking in with how and what youre feeling is the best way to confirm youre in menopause. If you feel that something is off or that you are experiencing more and more symptoms around the age when perimenopause or menopause most often begins you have probably started your transition.
|While there is no set first sign of perimenopause or menopause, there are 16 very common symptoms:|
Its important to realize that perimenopause and menopause dont cause only physical symptoms. You may experience a range unsettling changes in emotions, memory and concentration, as well those in the list above. For some women, these are the worst symptoms of all.
With such a wide range of symptoms, its no wonder many women dont connect them to perimenopausal hormonal imbalance. If you would like to read more about symptoms, see our article Signs and symptoms of menopause.
What Is Premature Menopause
Menopause, when it occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, is considered “natural” and is a normal part of aging. But, some women can experience menopause early, either as a result of a surgical intervention or damage to the ovaries . Menopause that occurs before the age of 45, regardless of the cause, is called early menopause. Menopause that occurs at 40 or younger is considered premature menopause.
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What Happens At Menopause
Women are born with about a million eggs in each ovary. By puberty about 300,000 eggs remain, and by menopause there are no active eggs left.
On average, a woman in Australia will have 400-500 periods in her lifetime. From about 35-40 years of age, the number of eggs left in your ovaries decreases more quickly and you ovulate less regularly until your periods stop. Menopause means the end of ovulation.
Treatments For Menopausal Symptoms
Your GP can offer treatments and suggest lifestyle changes if you have severe menopausal symptoms that interfere with your day-to-day life.
- hormone replacement therapy tablets, skin patches, gels and implants that relieve menopausal symptoms by replacing oestrogen
- vaginal oestrogen creams, lubricants or moisturisers for vaginal dryness
- cognitive behavioural therapy a type of talking therapy that can help with low mood and anxiety
- eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly maintaining a healthy weight and staying fit and strong can improve some menopausal symptoms
Your GP may refer you to a menopause specialist if your symptoms do not improve after trying treatment or if you’re unable to take HRT.
Changes In Vaginal Discharge And Dryness
Many people experience changes in vaginal discharge or increased dryness in and around the genitals postmenopause. These symptoms may stem from vaginal atrophy, a condition where the vaginal walls become narrower.
Vaginal atrophy affects of people before menopause and 4057% after menopause. Common symptoms of vaginal atrophy include:
- vaginal dryness
- a yellow-tinged vaginal discharge
- spotting or bleeding
Vaginal discharge may also become less frequent postmenopause, which may increase the risk of painful intercourse. NAMS say this decrease in natural vaginal discharge results from a sharp dip in estrogen and progesterone, which are responsible for healthy discharge and natural lubrication.
Physical Symptoms Of Menopause
Symptoms commonly reported by peri- and post-menopausal women include hot flushes and night sweats, bodily aches and pains, dry skin, vaginal dryness, loss of libido, urinary frequency, and sleeping difficulties. Some women may have unwanted hair growth, thinning of scalp and pubic hair and skin changes. Not everyone finds the symptoms bothersome but about 60% of women will have mild symptoms for around 4-8 years. Twenty per cent of women will have no symptoms at all while another 20% will be severely affected, with symptoms continuing into their 60s or later3.
Now that women live around one third of their lives after menopause, optimizing physical and mental health during this period is becoming more important.
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Are There Treatments For The Menopause
If your symptoms are severe, theres treatment available which could help. This includes hormone replacement therapy , which replaces oestrogen to alleviate symptoms, creams for vaginal dryness, and cognitive behaviour therapy to help with mood changes. Speak to your doctor about the risks and benefits of different treatments.
What Is Hormone Therapy
During menopause, your body goes through major hormonal changes, decreasing the amount of hormones it makes particularly estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen and progesterone are produced by the ovaries. When your ovaries no longer make enough estrogen and progesterone, hormone therapy can be used as a supplement. Hormone therapy boosts your hormone levels and can help relieve some symptoms of menopause. Its also used as a preventative measure for osteoporosis.
There are two main types of hormone therapy:
- Estrogen therapy : In this treatment, estrogen is taken alone. Its typically prescribed in a low dose and can be taken as a pill or patch. ET can also be given to you as a cream, vaginal ring, gel or spray. This type of treatment is used after a hysterectomy. Estrogen alone cant be used if a woman still has a uterus.
- Estrogen Progesterone/Progestin Hormone Therapy : This treatment is also called combination therapy because it uses doses of estrogen and progesterone. Progesterone is available in its natural form, or also as a progestin . This type of hormone therapy is used if you still have your uterus.
Hormone therapy can relieve many of the symptoms of menopause, including:
- Hot flashes and night sweats.
- Vaginal dryness.
When To See A Gp
It’s worth talking to a GP if you have menopausal symptoms that are troubling you or if you’re experiencing symptoms of the menopause before 45 years of age.
They can usually confirm whether you’re menopausal based on your symptoms, but a blood test to measure your hormone levels may be carried out if you’re under 45.
How Long Do The Stages Of Menopause Last
Perimenopause typically lasts for four to six years, but it can last as long as 12 years for some women. In most cases, the onset occurs between ages 35-45. However, it can occur earlier or later in a minority of women. While they do remain potentially fertile during this time, it becomes far more difficult to conceive. Hot flashes, fatigue, chills, and other symptoms associated with menopause begin to emerge during this stage.
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Will I Go Through Menopause If Im On Birth Control Pills
Women taking birth control pills will go through perimenopause and menopause. But because of the hormonal effects of birth control pills in perimenopause and menopause, you may not realize that it has started. For example, with the pill, you may still get periods on a regular basis, although your body is not releasing a fertilized egg. If you stop taking the pill after youve gone through menopause, you will not start ovulating again.
Can Menopause Cause Depression
Your body goes through a lot of changes during menopause. There are extreme shifts in your hormone levels, you may not be sleeping well because of hot flashes and you may be experiencing mood swings. Anxiety and fear could also be at play during this time. All of these factors can lead to depression.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of depression, talk to your healthcare provider. During your conversation, your provider will tell you about different types of treatment and check to make sure there isnt another medical condition causing your depression. Thyroid problems can sometimes be the cause of depression.
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How Can I Improve Sex After Menopause
If you are finding that sex is more difficult after menopause, you might want to try out some of the tried-and-tested products and practices below:
Use vaginal lubricants
With the decline of your estrogen, youll also experience a decline in vaginal lubrication. It therefore makes perfect sense that you would give your body a helping hand by using a personal lubricant during sex. We recommend using a high quality water-based lubricant so as not to irritate the sensitive vaginal tissues – especially if you have any menopause-related inflammation.
Use vaginal moisturizers
Although similar to lubricants in their overall effects, moisturizers have a slightly different purpose. You can apply a vaginal moisturizer even when you are not having sex, since your vagina will gradually absorb the moisture. This way your body will already be primed for sexual activity when it does happen.
Use Neueve Suppositories
NeuEve suppositories and creams are an all-round menopause treatment because they help with symptoms such as vaginal odor, dryness, vaginal atrophy, itching, burning, painful sex, and bacterial vaginosis all of which are common menopause symptoms that affect your sex life!
Try Vaginal estrogen therapy
Go for Plant-based BHT
Have more foreplay with your partner
Have sex often
Use vaginal dilators
The Bottom Line: The menopause may bring challenges but it doesnt have to mean the end of your sex life.
Why Are My Menopause Symptoms Getting Worse
Symptoms of perimenopause leading up to menopause may increase in frequency and intensity as hormonal shifts become more severe. Around the age of 35, estrogen and progesterone production enters a phase of gradual decline. You may notice any symptoms from these gradual shifts.
In your 40s, the ratios between estrogen and progesterone will be in flux. Ovulation may not happen with every period or your periods may become irregular. These shifts in your hormones can cause more noticeable symptoms.
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What You Can Do To Stay Healthy Postmenopause
Its never been more important to take a proactive role in your health care. Many women suffer unnecessarily from symptoms that can be managed with prescribed treatments or home remedies. Talk to your doctor before you begin taking any new supplement or treatment, including over-the-counter and herbal remedies.
Aside from hormone therapy some of the most common postmenopausal treatments include:
- Hormone therapy: Helps reduce hot flashes and vaginal dryness, and may prevent bone loss.
- Vaginal estrogen: Relieves vaginal dryness, discomfort during sex, and some urinary symptoms.
- Calcium and vitamin D supplements or other osteoporosis treatments: Aids in strengthening bones.
- Vaginal lubricants: Increases comfort during sex.
- Incontinence treatments: Various lifestyle changes and medical options for gaining bladder control.
- Exercise: Stimulates heart and bone health and maintains healthy weight.
- Diet: Helps manage healthy weight.
Postmenopausal health is about a lot more than your ovaries and uterus. Keep up with annual physical exams and schedule those regular preventive screenings, such as mammogram, bone density screening, Pap smear, mole checks, and colonoscopy. Remember your teeth and gums and your eyes, too. Theres never been a better time to focus on your own well-being.
How Often Do I Need To See My Doctor In Postmenopause
Even if you are postmenopausal, getting regular check-ups and preventive screening tests such as pelvic exams, Pap smears, breast exams, and mammograms are among the most important things you can do for yourself. How often you need a check-up depends on your health history. Talk to your doctor to determine how often you should be seen.
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Putting On A Few Pounds
Many women do put on weight around the menopause, but it’s not inevitable and your weight shouldn’t keep going up. It’s estimated that the ‘average’ woman puts on about 5 lb after the menopause, but it doesn’t all go on straightaway. Certainly your metabolism does tend to slow down as you get older, so you burn up fewer calories. However, with small adjustments in your diet, you may well be able to avoid putting on weight.
The bad news is that even if you don’t put on weight, you might find that the menopause does cause your shape to change. There is evidence that you tend to shift more towards an ‘apple’ rather than a ‘pear’ shape around the menopause, with excess weight stored around your midriff. This can increase your risk of heart attack and type 2 diabetes.
When To Seek Help
Its common and normal to experience irregular periods when youre perimenopausal.
- suddenly experience very heavy periods or periods with blood clots
- have periods lasting longer than usual
- spot or bleed after sex
- spot or bleed after your period
- have periods close together
Osteoporosis and heart disease are long-term health risks associated with menopause. Thats because estrogen plays a significant role in protecting your bones and your heart. Without estrogen, youre at an increased risk for both diseases.
Youre also at an increased risk of urinary tract infections because menopause can cause your urethra to become dry, irritated, or inflamed. Vaginal infections can also occur more frequently because your vagina has become dryer and thinner.
Report menopausal symptoms when visiting the doctor. Get assessed by your physician if you continue to have menopausal symptoms that are unbearable or last more than five years after your last menstrual period.
Although menopause can cause uncomfortable symptoms for some women, this natural process has possible upsides, too. There are several potential benefits of menopause to consider:
You will still need to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases.
Review Of Indian Literature On Postmenopausal Syndrome
The average age of menopause in India is 47.5 years, with an average life expectancy of 71 years. Therefore, Indian women are likely to spend almost 23.5 years in menopause .
About 3540% women between 40 and 65 years have been diagnosed to suffer from osteopenia and 830% suffer from osteoporosis. All women over 65 years have been found to suffer from osteopenia or osteoporosis .
A study which analyzed a sample consisting of menopausal, premenopausal and postmenopausal women in the age range of 3550 years using a two-stage screening procedure for identifying and screening psychiatric morbidity General Health Questionnaire and Standard Psychiatric Interview, found highest psychiatric co-morbidity in the menopausal group, in terms of age maximum number of cases with psychiatric co-morbidity were from 41 to 45 years. Menopausal women suffered more symptoms of menopause as well as psychiatric symptoms as compared to premenopausal women. Both set of symptoms was found to be less in the postmenopause group also. The most common reported symptoms in the group were depression, depressive thoughts, anxiety, and excessive concern about bodily functions. Supporting the findings of the earlier study the predominant symptom in menopausal women was depression.