What Does Perimenopause Feel Like
I thought I was going crazy. I didnt know what was happening. I knew my periods would one day cease, but why were they so heavy? And so close together? And then so far apart? And why was I angry all the time? So weepy? AND WHY DID I FEEL LIKE THIS FOR TEN MILLION YEARS?!
Of course, not everyone has severe symptoms some fortunate women have few to no symptoms at all. Lynn is 55 and is still waiting to be sure she is menopausal. Her periods have been irregular for many years, but she still hasnt gone a full year without one. Shes had some weight gain and lowered libido, but shes never had a hot flash or a night sweat. Marie, who began perimenopause at 43, says that after a few years, shes totally used to it, and so grateful I never walk down the tampon aisle, ever! Miserable cramps and chocolate cravings are gone. Buh bye!
Allison had no symptoms, so that when she missed a few periods at 50, she thought she was pregnant, not perimenopausal. Kara had trouble with her periods when she was younger, but menopause at 48 was like turning off a faucet. She had a normal period one month and then never another one again that was it.
I feel like I spent years worrying and dreading menopause for no good reason, she says. Was the fire department going to come? Was I going to be charged with murder? The most dramatic thing that ever happened to me was once I had such a bad night sweat, I had to change the sheets. That was about it.
Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators
SERMs are a category of drugs, either synthetically produced or derived from a botanical source, that act selectively as agonists or antagonists on the estrogen receptors throughout the body. The most commonly prescribed SERMs are raloxifene and tamoxifen. Raloxifene exhibits oestrogen agonist activity on bone and lipids, and antagonist activity on breast and the endometrium. Tamoxifen is in widespread use for treatment of hormone sensitive breast cancer. Raloxifene prevents vertebral fractures in postmenopausal, osteoporotic women and reduces the risk of invasive breast cancer.
Do Men Go Through Menopause
Andropause, or male menopause, is a term given to describe decreasing testosterone levels in men. Testosterone production in men declines much more gradually than estrogen production in women at about 1% per year. Healthcare providers often debate calling this slow decline in testosterone menopause since its not as drastic of a hormone shift and doesn’t carry the same intensity of side effects as menopause in women. Some men will not even notice the change because it happens over many years or decades. Other names for the male version of menopause are age-related low testosterone, male hypogonadism or androgen deficiency.
What Are The Early Signs Of Menopause
Brace yourself, ladies, menopause can be brutal.
There are more symptoms of menopause than these I mentioned, but these are the ones I have experienced. Whatever you do, self-care is so crucial during this time of menopause, so take good care of yourself.
This picture of me taken in 2014 AND 20 lbs heavier than usual, is a game-changer for me. Menopause is brutal! Now, in 2020 Im still having trouble losing the weight. Ive tried intermittent fasting for beginners, going gluten-free, and cutting down on carbs. Nothing seems to help.
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Perimenopause Complications
Irregular periods are the most common symptom of perimenopause. But its important to know when to talk to your healthcare provider about your periods. Sometimes, irregular bleeding can point to an underlying problem.
You can lower your risk of complications by seeking treatment when necessary. Talk to your healthcare provider if you:
- Bleed for more than seven days in a row.
- Bleed between periods.
- Change pads or tampons every one to two hours.
- Have periods more frequently than every 21 days.
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Hormone Levels Fluctuate Leading To Menopause
As you approach menopause, the production of female hormones by the ovaries starts to slow down. Hormone levels tend to fluctuate, and you may notice changes in your menstrual cycle such as:
- period cycles may become longer, shorter or totally irregular
- bleeding may become lighter
- bleeding may become unpredictable and heavy .
Eventually, your hormone levels will fall to a point where your ovaries stop releasing eggs, your periods stop and menopause is reached.Although fertility after the age of 45 is low, you still need to use contraception to prevent pregnancy. Its recommended to continue contraception until you have had one year without a natural period if youre over 50 years old, or two years without a natural period if youre under 50.
What Tests Diagnose Menopause
Because hormone levels may fluctuate greatly in an individual woman, even from one day to the next, hormone levels are not a reliable method for diagnosing menopause. There is no single blood test that reliably predicts when a woman is going through the menopausal transition, so there is currently no proven role for blood testing to diagnose menopause. The only way to diagnose menopause is to observe the lack of menstrual periods for 12 months in a woman in the expected age range.
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When Do I Know That Im Having A Hot Flash
During a hot flash, youll likely feel your body temperature rise. Hot flashes affect the top half of your body, and your skin may even turn red in color or become blotchy. This rush of heat could lead to sweating, heart palpitations, and feelings of dizziness. After the hot flash, you may feel cold.
Hot flashes may come on daily or even multiple times a day. You may experience them over the course of a year or even several years.
Avoiding triggers may reduce the number of hot flashes you experience. These can include:
- consuming alcohol or caffeine
Being overweight and smoking may also make hot flashes worse.
A few techniques may help reduce your hot flashes and their symptoms:
- Dress in layers to help with hot flashes, and use a fan in your home or office space.
- Do breathing exercises during a hot flash to try to minimize it.
Medications such as birth control pills, hormone therapy, or even other prescriptions may help you reduce hot flashes. See your doctor if youre having difficulty managing hot flashes on your own.
What Is The Menopausal Transition
The menopausal transition is the period that links a womans reproductive years and menopause. A woman is said to be in menopause if she has had no menstrual periods for 1 year. Once in menopause, the ovaries essentially stop making hormones and women lose their ability to become pregnant. The average age for menopause is 51 years.
During the menopause transition, women often have changing menstrual cycles, vaginal dryness, hot flashes or flushes , and problems with sleep. Some of these symptoms happen all the time while others come and go. Symptoms can be mild to unbearable and can interfere with daily activities and sleep. Perimenopause is different for each woman but usually lasts about 5 years.
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How Does Natural Menopause Occur
Natural menopause is the permanent ending of menstruation that is not brought on by any type of medical treatment. For people undergoing natural menopause, the process is gradual and is described in three stages:
Perimenopause or “menopause transition”: Perimenopause can begin eight to 10 years before menopause when the ovaries gradually produce less estrogen. It usually starts when you’re in your 40s. Perimenopause lasts up until menopause, the point when the ovaries stop releasing eggs. In the last one to two years of perimenopause, the drop in estrogen accelerates. At this stage, many people may experience menopause symptoms. But you are still having menstrual cycles during this time and can get pregnant.
Menopause: Menopause is the point when you no longer have menstrual periods. At this stage, your ovaries have stopped releasing eggs and producing most of their estrogen. Menopause is diagnosed when you’ve gone without a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months.
Postmenopause: This is the name given to the time after you have not had a period for an entire year . During this stage, menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, may ease for many people. However, some people continue to experience menopausal symptoms for a decade or longer after the menopause transition. As a result of a lower level of estrogen, those in the postmenopausal phase are at increased risk for several health conditions, such as osteoporosis and heart disease.
Your Period Is Way Lighteror Heavierthan It Used To Be
This is the sign most women notice first: What used to happen every 28 or 30 days like clockwork becomes all over the place, according to the National Institutes of Health . The time between periods can change, the amount of bleeding can change, the length of time you have your period can change, or you can start skipping periodsits all fair game.
You officially enter menopause when its been a full year since your last period, per the NIH, but the symptoms start well before then, during a time known as perimenopause.
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Alternative And Complementary Menopause Treatments
Some studies have found that soy products relieve hot flashes, but researchers are still looking into it. There arenât many large studies on whether other supplements such as black cohosh or âbioidenticalâ hormones work for menopause symptoms. Talk to your doctor before starting any herbal or dietary supplements.
Yoga, tai chi, and acupuncture are safer ways to manage menopause symptoms.
What Are Common Menopause Symptoms
Some common menopause symptoms are:
Irregular periods: Periods becoming shorter, longer, heavier, lighter. Skipping periods.
Hot flashes: A hot flash is a sudden, sometimes intense feeling of heat that rushes to your face and upper body. Hot flashes can be really uncomfortable, but they usually only last a few minutes. They can happen a few times a day, a few times a week, or a few times a month.
Night sweats: Hot flashes that wake you up in the middle of the night.
Sleep problems: You may have insomnia trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. You may also start to wake up much earlier than you used to.
Vaginal changes: The lining of your vagina may become thinner, drier, or less stretchy. This can cause dryness or discomfort during sex.
Urinary or bladder infections: You may have to pee more often or get more frequent urinary tract or bladder infections.
Mood changes: Hormone changes can make you feel anxious, irritable, and tired. Your sex drive might change, too.
Weaker bones: Your bones will probably weaken during menopause. If its really bad, it can lead to osteoporosis after menopause. Getting plenty of calcium and vitamin D, and exercising for at least 30 minutes most days of the week can help you maintain bone health.
Some people may have a long and difficult perimenopause, up to 1012 years. But most people find that the common menopause symptoms are temporary and only last 35 years.
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Can I Get Pregnant During Menopause
The possibility of pregnancy disappears once you are postmenopausal, you have been without your period for an entire year . However, you can get pregnant during the menopause transition . If you dont want to become pregnant, you should continue to use some form of birth control until you have gone fully through menopause. Ask your healthcare provider before you stop using contraception.
For some people, getting pregnant can be difficult once theyre in their late 30s and 40s because of a decline in fertility. However, if becoming pregnant is the goal, there are fertility-enhancing treatments and techniques that can help you get pregnant. Make sure to speak to your healthcare provider about these options.
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.
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Women’s Health Topics We Need To Talk About In 2020
Mood problems like depression can spike during perimenopause, especially among women who have previously experienced them. Many of our listeners wrote in to say that during perimenopause, they felt incredibly irritable and quick to anger in a way that they had never experienced before.
And of course, many â but not all â women experience hot flashes, though they may not recognize them. “It’s hard, because no one sits us down and teaches us, ‘Here’s what a hot flash feels like,’ ” Stuenkel says. “I’ve seen women who think they’re having panic attacks, or heart palpitations. That can be frightening.”
Other common symptoms include more frequent urinary tract infections, difficulty sleeping through the night, vaginal dryness that can make sex painful, night sweats and a decrease in libido.
What treatments are there for symptoms?
Some symptoms, like heavy or irregular periods, can be managed with an oral contraceptive, which can “shut down the body’s own erratic hormonal fluctuations,” says Stuenkel.
“This can kind of be a lifesaver,” she says. Such medication may help with hot flashes, too.
Missed Periods Intermittent Spotting Heavy Bleeding And Flooding
Changes in periods vary widely as hormones adjust. As mentioned in other parts of this site this is a time to really tune into your body and trust your instincts. As you can see from this list it’s hard to define what perimenopause periods are like:
Periods can disappear for a year and then return.
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Whats The Difference Between Perimenopause And Menopause
Perimenopause refers to the period of time right before menopause begins.
During perimenopause, your body is beginning the transition into menopause. That means that hormone production from your ovaries is beginning to decline. You may begin to experience some symptoms commonly associated with menopause, like hot flashes. Your menstrual cycle may become irregular, but it wont cease during the perimenopause stage.
Once you completely stop having a menstrual cycle for 12 consecutive months, youve entered menopause.
What Are The Symptoms Of Perimenopause
Your body has been producing estrogen since puberty. Once your estrogen levels begin to decline, your body has to adjust to the changes in hormones.
The symptoms vary, but most people experience at least one of the following:
- Sleep problems .
- Changes in mood like irritability, depression or mood swings.
The length of time you have symptoms of perimenopause can vary between a few months to many years. The decrease in estrogen also can lead to bone thinning or changing cholesterol levels. Continue to have regular checkups with your healthcare provider to keep an eye on your health.
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Menopause At A Glance
- Every woman is affected by menopause in some way either they experience symptoms or other physical changes.
- The average age of menopause is 51 years but you can enter menopause earlier.
- Hormonal changes cause menopausal symptoms.
- Most women will have some symptoms.
- Most women have symptoms for 5 to 10 years.
Menopause occurs when you have not had a menstrual period for 12 months. Menopause is a natural part of life occurring at around age 51 years but can also happen for other reasons including after:
- surgery to remove ovaries and/or your womb/uterus
- radiotherapy to your pelvis.
At menopause, you stop producing oestrogen and this can lead to menopausal symptoms. Oestrogen levels can vary in the time leading up to the final menstrual period .
How Long Does The Menopause Last
Symptoms of the menopause can start months or even years before periods stop completely. They usually continue for around 4 years after your last period, though some womens symptoms continue for much longer.
The menopause usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55, but its very difficult to predict when it will take place in an individual.
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Vaginal Dryness And Atrophy
When your estrogen levels drop, your vaginal tissues start drying and become less elastic. Sex becomes uncomfortable you may be more prone to infections your vagina is frequently itchy and easily irritated, and, on the emotional side, you may feel older.
Your vagina is usually very elastic, able to easily stretch for sex and childbirth. But as estrogen levels go down, your vaginal walls get thinner and lose some of their elasticity. Your vagina becomes dryer and takes longer to become lubricated. Finally, it may atrophy becoming somewhat smaller in width and length.
If you experience a sudden drop in estrogen , these vaginal symptoms might appear more suddenly than if you go through a natural premature menopause. Either way, though, its a very unpleasant side effect of going through menopause and often very emotionally upsetting when youre in your 20s or 30s.
You may find it takes longer and longer to get sexually aroused. Sexual stimulation that you used to enjoy may become unpleasant. Intercourse can be very uncomfortable, even painful. In a worst case scenario, your vagina may even tear during intercourse.
All in all, sex may become less and less pleasurable making you feel even worse about being in premature menopause. I remember I began thinking that, at the not-so-ripe age of 38, my days of enjoying sex were over and was very glad when I learned that I was wrong.
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