Perimenopause is a natural stage in a woman’s life when she begins to transition from her reproductive years to menopause. A woman is considered officially in menopause one year after her final menstrual period (FMP). Until then, if she is in her 30s, 40s or 50s and experiencing some symptoms of menopause, she is considered perimenopausal.
What is Perimenopause?
The word “perimenopause” comes from the Greek prefix “peri” – meaning “about” or “around” – and “menopause,” which refers to the complete cessation of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Perimenopause describes the transition time between the beginning of menopausal symptoms and the FMP. Because these symptoms usually occur gradually over time, perimenopause is sometimes also referred to as the “menopausal transition.”
Many women wonder if perimenopause has begun. Maybe you have been experiencing changes in your regular menstrual cycle or you’ve had an occasional hot flash or night sweat. “But I’m too young for menopause!” you think. You will be relieved to know that some women experience perimenopausal symptoms up to 10 years before the end of their menstrual cycles. Let’s discuss the ages when perimenopause can start, and how to tell if you have entered the menopausal transition.
The Ages When Perimenopause Can Start
According to research studies on aging and perimenopause, the age at which most women experience the hormonal changes associated with the menopausal transition is age 45. There is a wide range, however, with some women experiencing perimenopausal symptoms as early as their 30’s and others making it into their 50’s before they notice any signs of approaching menopause.
For many women, these symptoms include vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes or night sweats. Many notice changes in their regular menstrual cycle, as their periods become longer or shorter, heavier or lighter, or their cycle itself becomes irregular. Some women report mood changes or symptoms like depression, anxiety, and irritability. Sleep issues and insomnia affect some women during and after perimenopause along with symptoms like vaginal dryness, decreased libido, memory problems or loss of bone density. Tranquility Labs’ all-natural nutritional and herbal supplement, Estrolene for Perimenopausal Support, relies on time-tested botanicals and vitamins to help relieve many of the symptoms associated with the menopausal transition.
There is a multitude of factors that can influence when perimenopause begins. Sociodemographic differences, economic status, health, and environmental influences can all affect the age when perimenopause can start. Let’s take a look at these and how they play a role in determining the age when perimenopause can start.
Geographic differences seem to play a role in the age when perimenopause can start for different women. Several studies have shown that women living in urban areas tend to begin perimenopause later than women who live in rural areas. Mood symptoms like depression also appear to be higher among women living in rural areas, as well as for women with lower socioeconomic status and who live in areas with lower rates of employment and fewer educational opportunities. Women living in “developing” countries also tend to go through menopause earlier than women living in industrial nations.
Differences among ethnic groups are not significant when other factors like health, lifestyle, and sociodemographics are controlled. Researchers are still trying to understand how genetics, socioeconomic and environmental factors influence perimenopausal and menopausal age.
Menstrual cycle regularity seems to play a role in the age when perimenopause can start, as women whose cycles are shorter in length tend to experience menopause earlier than those with longer cycles. Other variables like the number of pregnancies and maternal age at menopause seem to factor in as well. Genetic studies have pointed to a complex interaction of genetic inheritance and environment as predictors of menopausal age.
Some researchers have found that Body Mass Index (BMI) may be a factor in determining a woman’s perimenopausal age while others find that smoking, low physical activity, and socioeconomic stress are greater factors in age and severity of symptoms. Women who smoke over a half pack of cigarettes a day are more likely to begin menopause an average of 2.8 years earlier than those who don’t smoke. There are several reasons for this, including toxicity of the chemicals in cigarettes to the ovaries, potentially higher estrogen depletion in smokers due to liver metabolism, and the antiestrogenic effects of smoking.
Women who have poorer nutrition or are undernourished tend to begin perimenopause at an earlier age, as do women who have higher fat, cholesterol, coffee and carbohydrate intakes. Total calorie intake and consumption of fruits, proteins, and healthy carbohydrates have been associated with a later age at perimenopause.
Occupational and Environmental Influences
More research is needed into the influence of occupational and environmental factors on perimenopause or menopause. It is thought that many of the same stressors that affect pregnancy and breast health, like shift work, hours spent standing, and heavy lifting on the job also likely affect the age when perimenopause can start.
Some studies into the effects of chemical exposure have shown that in high quantities of exposure, certain chemicals do lead to earlier menopause. Determining which types of exposure and in what quantities cause adverse effects is an area of study still being explored.
Am I Experiencing Perimenopause?
After looking into some of the factors that influence when perimenopause can start, you may be wondering if you are experiencing perimenopause! While the average age is 45, many women experience perimenopausal symptoms both earlier and later than this. Some women begin to experience signs of perimenopause in their 30s while others don’t experience any symptoms until they are in their 50s.
Some of the most commonly-reported symptoms are hot flashes, night sweats, changes in regular menstrual cycle, mood-related symptoms, sleep issues, vaginal dryness and decreased libido, and problems with memory and concentration. If you are a woman in your 30s, 40s, or 50s and are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, you may be in perimenopause. It’s always best to check with your regular doctor, especially if symptoms are alarming.
You may also want to check out Tranquility Labs’ all-natural herbal formula for perimenopause support! Perimenopause doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. Estrolene’s proprietary blend of herbs and nutraceuticals may help ease your transition into perimenopause by relieving symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats, mood, and stress-related issues, and supporting bone density and immune health.