General Health Friday June 8, 2012

How to recognise the signs of perimenopause and what you can do about it

Perimenopause is the stage before menopause and can start anywhere from eight to ten years beforehand. It’s also known as the transition period, because it’s during this time that the ovaries start to gradually produce less and less oestrogen, as illustrated by the graph below.

Many women tend to experience discomfort during this time, without really knowing what’s wrong with them, which is why knowing the signs can be helpful in finding the most appropriate way in dealing with bothersome symptoms. It may also be a good idea to take additional precautions to prevent conditions such as osteoporosis during this time, as it tends to be a greater risk women start entering menopause.

The symptoms of perimenopause

For some women the changes can be so subtle that they don’t even know it’s happening while other women may experience more noticeable changes. Many times perimenopause can be diagnosed by a doctor, but blood tests are also used to help establish whether these types of hormonal changes are occurring. The usual time for perimenopause to start is during a women’s 40s, but it can also start earlier possibly causing the following symptoms:

  • Hot flashes
  • Breast tenderness
  • Worsening of premenstrual syndrome
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular periods
  • Vaginal dryness causing discomfort during sex
  • The need to urinate more frequently
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Prone to mood changes and mood swings

Many of the menstrual symptoms mentioned above are very common during perimenopause, but drastic changes in your menstrual cycle is never a good sign, so if you are experiencing anything such as bleeding or spotting between periods, spotting after you’ve had sex or extremely heavy and prolonged periods, speak to your doctor. However, it’s a good idea just in general to speak to your doctor if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms. This will ensure that you eliminate the risk of any other health problems being the cause and can ensure that you get the right treatment, as perimenopause can often last for four years before menopause actually start. Menopause is normally only diagnosed when a women has gone a year (12 months) without having had her period.

Treatments for perimenopause

Not all women may benefit from hormone treatments such as the pill or other therapies, which is usually recommended during this time. However there are other ways to naturally help cope with symptoms, without it causing too much disruption to your life. These things include exercise, stopping smoking, getting more sleep, going to be d and waking up at the same time each day, maintaining a healthy weight, using vitamin supplements and staying hydrated.

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