Perimenopause is the transitional period that signals the approach of menopause, or the end of a woman’s ability to reproduce. This transitional experience can be a time of uncertainty, as it is different for every woman. Perimenopause usually happens between the early forties and the early fifties; however, anywhere from 30 to 60 is considered normal. In addition, determining whether you’ve actually entered this stage can be difficult because you will still experience your menstrual cycle. Hormonal changes during this period often lead periods to become irregular, along with other common symptoms.
Along with the uncertainty surrounding when perimenopause may begin for you comes not knowing how long it will last. Generally, this transitional period can occur from between one to 10 years. That’s quite a large time frame. You may be able to get a better idea by asking your mother or sister about their experiences, as menopausal factors can often be similar between family members.
During the perimenopausal period, your ovaries will exhibit unusual functioning, and your hormone levels of estrogen and progesterone will fluctuate. These disruptions in your body’s normal function lead to a vast array of symptoms.
In general, you can likely expect to experience hot flashes, trouble sleeping, night sweats and irregular menstrual cycles. It’s not unusual to skip a period or to experience much heavier than usual bleeding. Do see our physician if you are concerned about such bleeding, though. Other symptoms may include changes in sexual desire and response, vaginal changes, memory problems and urinary issues.
If your hormonal shifts are mild, you may not notice much change to indicate perimenopause. On the other hand, women who have dramatic fluctuations in hormones can experience increased discomfort and additional symptoms like weight gain, migraines, sore breasts and nausea.
Indicators of Perimenopause
To help give you an idea of whether you are dealing with perimenopause, there are some indicators that are common. The beginning of perimenopause can bring about increased PMS symptoms, such as sore breasts, cramps and irritability. It is during this early transition that your periods are still regular and hormonal fluctuations are just beginning. As your cycle begins to become less regular, these symptoms should lessen.
If you begin to notice irregular periods, this could indicate perimenopause has begun. You may have only two to three days of bleeding, but a shorter cycle in which menstrual bleeding occurs every two to three weeks. You could even skip a period, with the following month’s menstruation being quite heavy. The ups and downs of your hormones are to blame for these issues.
Heavy bleeding is something about a quarter of women will deal with during this time. Approximately 30 percent of lucky women do not experience night sweats or hot flashes during this time, but the majority do. Vaginal dryness can be expected, along with possible tears or cracks to the thinning vaginal walls.
Consult the Professionals
During this time of transition, be sure to maintain an open line of communication with our medical professionals at South Lake OB/GYN in Clermont. Our highly qualified team of experts can provide you with options for relief. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.