You’re in your 40s, so you envision having a few more good years before you enter the throes of menopause. Why, then, are you feeling all of the hallmark symptoms?
You could be experiencing perimenopause. Peri is Greek for “around” or “near,” so perimenopause marks a transitional phase before you fully enter menopause.
This phase marking the final years of your regular cycles can catch you off guard — and that’s where we come in.
Our team of menopause experts at OB/GYN Specialists, led by Dr. Marc Wilson, knows perimenopause when we see it, and we have all of the details to help you learn more about what to expect.
You’ve undoubtedly heard of menopause, but you may not be as familiar with perimenopause.
Perimenopause is tricky to define because it affects each woman differently. Generally, perimenopause begins when you start to experience irregular periods, and it ends a year after you’ve had your last period.
On average, women are in the perimenopause stage for 3-4 years, though it can last just a few months or up to a decade.
The telltale signs of perimenopause are much like full-blown menopause and include:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Irregular periods
- Heavy periods
- Sleep disturbances
- Mood changes
- Vaginal and bladder problems, such as recurrent infections and dryness
- Decrease in fertility
- Changes in sexual function
- Bone loss
- Changing cholesterol levels
If you notice any of these changes or symptoms before you hit 51 (the average age women enter menopause), make an appointment with us to determine whether you’re experiencing perimenopause.
Why perimenopause happens
You can blame perimenopause on your hormones. During your peak reproductive years, you have a steady supply of estrogen, and it rises and falls predictably throughout your menstrual cycle.
Your estrogen levels follow commands from two other hormones: follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH).
FSH stimulates estrogen production in the fluid-filled sacs in your ovaries that contain your eggs. Once your estrogen levels reach a certain level, your brain signals your pituitary gland to turn off FSH and turn on LH, which allows your ovary to release an egg (ovulation).
Any interruptions to this process can lead to the frustrating symptoms associated with menopause. For some women, those interruptions occur sooner than others, and they experience perimenopause months or years before actual menopause.
What to do about perimenopause
By far, one of the most effective treatments for perimenopause is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). With HRT, we can help you compensate for the dip in estrogen levels and find relief from your symptoms.
Depending on your needs and preferences, you can receive HRT as:
- Oral medication
- Skin patch
- Vaginal cream or insert
- Implanted pellet
In addition to HRT, you can manage perimenopause through healthy habits and lifestyle changes, such as:
- Using over-the-counter (OTC) aids to ease vaginal discomfort
- Getting regular exercise
- Sleeping well
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Managing your stress
Some use food to reduce perimenopause symptoms, such as consuming a low-fat, high-fiber diet that is packed with whole fruits, vegetables, grains, and calcium to support bone health.
If you’re struggling with menopause, don’t get frustrated — get help. Call our friendly staff at 940-202-0301 to schedule a consultation at our Denton, Texas, office today.