Perimenopause: At What Age Does It Start? What are the symptoms?
You're in your 40s, you wake up in a sweat at night, and your periods are erratic and often accompanied by heavy bleeding: Chances are, you're going through perimenopause. Many women experience an array of symptoms as their hormones shift during the months or years leading up to menopause — that is, the natural end of menstruation.
Let us discuss in detail about early menopause symptoms so that you don’t find the happenings to be ‘unusual’ and easily cope up with the condition.
Perimenopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life that transitions her from her reproductive years to life after pregnancy and childbirth. It begins when your ovaries start to release fewer egg cells and to secrete fluctuating amounts of hormones, making periods irregular. It ends when your ovaries stop releasing eggs and secreting hormones at menopause. It usually begins when a woman is in her 40s; the average age is 47. The transition into menopause lasts an average of four years but can last eight to 10 years for some women and just a few short months for others. Menopause, diagnosed after no vaginal bleeding has occurred for 12 months, marks the end of perimenopause.
Some women begin perimenopause in their 30s also or even younger because of premature ovarian loss. The cause of this condition is unknown (idiopathic) for most women, but for others it may be caused by an autoimmune disorder, chromosomal abnormality, or chemotherapy or pelvic radiation for cancer. Because the length of perimenopause varies, some women experience symptoms longer than others.
- Irregular Periods: Periods can become irregular (shorter or longer in frequency, and occasionally heavy with clots) as the egg supply (ovarian reserve) dwindles, and hormone levels swing widely. You may also skip some periods during this phase. If bleeding is very erratic or heavy, it is important to seek advice from your healthcare provider.
- Hot flashes and sleep problems: As hormone levels swing widely and the estrogen circulating through the body fluctuates, hot flashes can occur. The intensity, length, and frequency vary. Some women also experience night flashes, trouble sleeping, and the sensation that their heart is beating rapidly, or chills.
- Changes in sexual function: As women approach menopause symptoms, the drive to conceive, or libido, may decline along with reproductive hormone levels. This is normal but does not mean that women will no longer enjoy sexual activity.
- Vaginal dryness: As reproductive hormone estrogen levels start to fall, vaginal tissues may lose lubrication and elasticity causing vaginal dryness and bladder irritability. These can translate into painful intercourse and may trigger vaginismus, in which the vaginal muscles involuntarily tighten, or spasm, when attempting intercourse. Low estrogen may also leave you more vulnerable to urinary or vaginal infections.
- Emotional changes: Some women experience mood changes as their hormone levels swing widely. The resulting symptoms can affect mental, physical and emotional well-being. In addition, sleep quality declines. For women who have had hormone-related mood problems in the past, such as postpartum depression, the risk of depression is increased during perimenopause.
- Other problems: Other common perimenopause symptoms include breast tenderness, fatigue, urinary urgency, worsening chronic headaches or migraines, and worsening arthritic joint pain (especially when vitamin D and estrogen levels are low).
Now when you know the early menopause symptoms, we expect you to accept this life change and recognize the symptoms as early as possible and contact a doctor as and when required. You really don’t need to fight the battle all alone, doctors can help you better deal with the situation. You can also take help of homeopathy in treating your premenopausal complaints. It offers women a safe, effective, and long-lasting solution.