Perimenopause Symptoms & What to Do About Them

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Perimenopause, or menopause transition, begins several years before menopause. It's the time when the ovaries gradually begin to make less estrogen. It usually starts in a woman's 40s, but can start in her 30s or even earlier.

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Perimenopause Symptoms & What to Do About Them :

Perimenopause Symptoms & What to Do About Them By Ela Woman

INTRODUCTION:

INTRODUCTION

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Perimenopause , or menopause transition, begins several years before menopause. It's the time when the ovaries gradually begin to make less estrogen. It usually starts in a woman's 40s, but can start in her 30s or even earlier.   Perimenopause lasts up until menopause, the point when the ovaries stop releasing eggs. In the last 1 to 2 years of perimenopause , this drop in estrogen speeds up. At this stage, many women have menopause symptoms.   How Long Does Perimenopause Last?   The average length of perimenopause is 4 years, but for some women this stage may last only a few months or continue for 10 years. Perimenopause ends when a woman has gone 12 months without having her period.   What Are the Signs of Perimenopause ?   Women in perimenopause have at least some these symptoms:   Are My Perimenopausal Symptoms Normal or Something to Be Concerned About? Irregular periods are common and normal during perimenopause . But other conditions can cause changes in menstrual bleeding.   How Is Perimenopause Diagnosed?   Often your doctor can make the diagnosis of  Perimenopause symptoms  based on your symptoms. A blood test to check hormone levels may also help, but your hormone levels are changing during perimenopause . It may be more helpful to have several blood tests done at different times for

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comparison.   Can I Get Pregnant If I Am Perimenopausal ?   Yes. Despite a decline in fertility during the perimenopause stage, you can still become pregnant. If you do not want to become pregnant, you should use some form of birth control until you reach menopause (you have gone 12 months without having your period ). For some women, getting pregnant can be difficult once they are in their late 30s to early 40s due to a drop in fertility. If becoming pregnant is the goal, there are treatments that can help you get pregnant.   Are There Treatments That Can Ease the Symptoms of Perimenopause ? Many women get relief from hot flashes after taking low-dose birth control pills for a short time. Other options that may control hot flashes include the birth control skin patch, vaginal ring, and progesterone injections. Certain women should not use birth control hormones, so talk to your doctor to see if they are right for you.   You may also feel better if you do things that enhance your general well-being, such as:     Talk to your doctor if you are having problems with your sex drive. He or she may be able to recommend a counselor or therapist to help you and your partner work through this problem. Vaginal lubricants may also be recommended, if vaginal dryness is a problem.   Other treatments available to help with the various symptoms of perimenopause may include antidepressant medications for mood swings.    

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Talk to your doctor about your specific symptoms and goals of treatment. This will help him or her make a plan that is right for you.   Our comprehensive guide to  When does perimenopause start  symptoms, treatments, and questions will lead you through this midlife rite of passage with your health and happiness intact   One night last spring, I burst out bawling over the money my husband and I had lost in the stock market many months earlier—and then just as suddenly, my mourning morphed into rage, as I unleashed a litany of recriminations toward him that kept us up late into the night. I felt utterly distraught about our marriage, and life in general. The next morning, on day 25 of my menstrual cycle—4 days early—I got my period. It wasn't the first cycle that had been short or the first time my anger had reached a frenzied pitch in recent months, though I hadn't equated it with my period nor my age. Until now. It dawned on me that perhaps, at 47, I was experiencing something I knew very little about— perimenopause . I apologized to my husband and set out on a journey to figure out what was happening to me—and about 40 million other midlife American women. As I queried my friends and their friends, I quickly realized that many of us are willfully in the dark about perimenopause (we all feel too young for this milestone). Every friend had questions—most commonly "How do I know I'm in it?"—and each woman, it seemed, was experiencing something slightly different from the next.     Before I dug into the research, I assumed that it meant a wave of weird periods before the real hot-flashy menopause hit. Not true. In perimenopause , which usually begins in your 40s (but can start as early as the late 30s), you can suffer depression and anxiety, relationship-threatening rage, embarrassingly heavy periods, life-interrupting hot flashes, insomnia, exhaustion, tip-of-the-tongue forgetfulness, migraines, and the list goes on ad nauseam (and that too!).  

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The kicker is, you may be experiencing one or several of these symptoms long before you and your doctor realize it. What's reassuring: Shifting hormones don't make you any less healthy, says Nanette Santoro, MD, director of the division of reproductive medicine at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine. And there's a lot you can do—from diet and lifestyle changes to medications—to reduce your symptoms dramatically. Here, a guide to recognizing the signs (heads out of the sand, please!). Then, how to successfully navigate this next phase of life with your health and happiness intact.   What the heck is perimenopause ?   It's the transition stage in a woman's reproductive life that begins, on average, 4 to 5 years before menopause. During that time, your ovaries gradually produce less estrogen, causing follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH)—which are responsible for growing and developing eggs—to rise and menstrual cycles to shorten. Eventually, you begin to miss periods. Then estrogen plummets, FSH levels remain high, and ovulation (and finally menstruation) stops. When you've gone 12 months without a period, menopause officially begins.   It   Perimenopause symptoms age 45  at a different pace for everyone and not always in a straight line. One indicator that menopause is close: You don't get your period for more than 3 months, says Michelle Warren, MD, medical director of the Center for Menopause, Hormonal Disorders, and Women's Health at Columbia University Medical Center. "That means you'll likely stop having periods within a year." Symptoms tend to intensify as menopause gets closer, and you can expect them to be at their worst 1 to 2 years both before and after menopause, says Joann Pinkerton, MD, medical director of the Midlife Health Center at the University of Virginia. That's because estrogen decline accelerates closer to menopause, and many symptoms are related to withdrawal from the hormone. With time, though, most women adapt to the loss of estrogen, and symptoms ease.

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Six key symptoms   Neither research nor experts can say which symptoms you'll experience and whether they'll continue from month to month. "One of the hallmarks of perimenopause is its unpredictability," says Pinkerton. That's why experts don't recommend testing your levels of FSH to determine if you're perimenopausal . Wildly fluctuating hormones often mean that the test cannot accurately predict where you are in menopause. Instead, pay attention to your cycle length and symptoms. Here, some of the most common.   Hot flashes. Though scientists don't know the exact cause, they suspect a drop in estrogen may disrupt your body's thermostat, resulting in a hot flash. About 75 to 80% of women experience hot flashes, which can last from a few seconds to 10 minutes and be as mild as a flushed face or so intense as to cause perspiration and heart palpitations. If you smoke, are overweight, or are African American, your risk of getting them increases. Hot flashes accompanied by sweating can also occur after-hours—these are called night sweats and may interfere with your quality of sleep.

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