What is perimenopause?
As women near the age of menopause, they may find themselves suffering from menopause symptoms. Menopause is defined as the lack of menstrual cycles and egg maturation, so the “change of life” as it is commonly called, is actually perimenopause. Perimenopause can begin in the late 40s and last until the late 50s or even early 60s, in rare cases.
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How will perimenopause symptoms progress?
The common symptoms of menopause are synonymous with perimenopause. Symptoms can last for decades with the earliest symptom being a change in menstrual cycle. Many women note lighter, less frequent periods as they enter their 40s. This is often a sign of menopause that goes unnoticed.
Lighter periods are not the only change associated with perimenopause. Some women actually have stronger periods that last longer. The change is unique to every woman, however, women fighting heavy, painful periods often seek medical attention to treat the symptoms thus masking them until later in life.
About 600,000 hysterectomies are performed every year. In cases with no cancerous medical history, the ovaries and cervix are often left behind. Hormone production continues, but perimenopause does not stop. Perimenopause is linked to the ovaries and estrogen production, not the uterus. Even when periods have stopped and the uterus is removed, women will still go through menopause via perimenopause.
Other symptoms of perimenopause include hot flashes, breast tenderness, fatigue, worsened PMS, lower sex drive, and vaginal dryness.
Is there a treatment for perimenopause?
Many women find comfort in taking contraception to control periods. Others have extenuating medical conditions that lead to a complete or partial hysterectomy. Until a woman is considered as being in menopause, there is no treatment for symptoms aside from menstrual cycle control. After menopause, contraception is often replaced with hormone or estrogen replacement therapy.
Women who enter perimenopause early may wish to seek out fertility treatment. There are only a set number of eggs available for maturation and release. Once those are gone menopause begins and natural motherhood is impossible.
Pregnancy and perimenopause
A woman may think because she has had no menstrual cycle for a few months that she cannot get pregnant. This is not the case. It is not until a woman has passed 12 months without any bleeding, spotting, or period-like discharge that she is considered barren. Until then, pregnancy can occur.
Perimenopause can be more disheartening and difficult than menopause. With changing hormone levels, emotional swings, and irregular periods, women often feel they are on the cusp of losing control. Perimenopause is a part of life nearly every woman has to live through – but once the time has passed – freedom from periods is often the best reward.