Menopause is a natural stage in a woman’s life. As she reaches the end of her reproductive years, hormonal fluctuations and other changes begin to take place. Perimenopause (also known as the menopausal transition) can occur anytime between the mid to late 30s, 40s, or 50s. According to research, the most common age for women to begin experiencing signs of perimenopause is 45.
There are several common symptoms and signs of perimenopause; we want to help you identify and understand what they are so you can determine if what you are experiencing are the signs of perimenopause.
Changes in Your Menstrual Cycle
The hallmark sign of perimenopause is the change in a woman’s regular menstrual cycle. These changes can be gradual or sudden and can range from periods that become heavier or lighter. The length of the menstrual cycle begins to change as well (from Day 1 to the next period) and can become either longer or shorter. Researchers have found that shorter cycles or spotting occur more frequently in early perimenopause, while longer cycles are more characteristic of later perimenopause.
Changes to the menstrual cycle begin to happen on average about six to eight years before menopause. Late transition, when cycles can become 60 days or longer, usually occurs about two years before the final menstrual period (FMP). These changes are different for every woman. Some experience very minimal or no changes at all in their cycle before menopause, while some women begin to notice a change up to 10 years before the onset of menopause.
Hormonal fluctuations along with decreasing follicular activity in the ovaries are thought to be the cause of menstrual cycle changes in perimenopause. As the number and function of ovarian follicles decreases, hormone levels begin to change as well. Some cycles become anovulatory, meaning there is a menstrual period without ovulation. This can affect period cycle and length. According to research on the endocrinology of perimenopause, elevations in FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone), fluctuations in estrogen, and decreases in Inhibin B (a hormone that suppresses FSH) characterize these perimenopausal changes.
Vasomotor Symptoms – Hot Flashes & Night Sweats
Hot flashes and night sweats are some of the most common symptoms women experience during perimenopause. A hot flash usually comes on suddenly and can vary in intensity and duration. Triggered by a heat-dissipation response that raises blood flow in the skin (also known as peripheral vasodilation), hot flashes can include a feeling of heat, sweating, flushing or even chills in the face, scalp, neck, and chest. Generally, they last from one to five minutes, but can at times last up to an hour.
According to researchers, up to 85% of women report having hot flashes, and 55% of women report having them prior to experiencing the menstrual irregularity that characterizes the menopausal transition. The average duration of hot flash symptoms is about four years, but some women experience them for much longer.
Night sweats are similar to hot flashes, but they happen at night. They are different than just waking up too hot after sleeping under too many blankets or with the heat up too high. Night sweats during perimenopause are usually experienced as heat and perspiration which can vary from a light sweat to soaking nightclothes or bedsheets.
What causes hot flashes and night sweats? We still don’t know exactly, but researchers do believe that changing hormone levels during perimenopause play a role. Likely there is an interplay of several different factors, including hormone levels, stress, genetics, and health history.
Tranquility Labs’ Estrolene Perimenopause Support is a safe and effective all-natural herbal supplement that may reduce symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats during perimenopause. Using a proprietary blend of Black Cohosh, Pueraria Mirifica, and Red Clover Isoflavones along with Vitamin E, Estrolene relies on time-tested herbs and nutrients that have been known for centuries to ease the symptoms and signs of perimenopause.
Vaginal dryness is one of the more uncomfortable and less commonly discussed signs of perimenopause. Also known as “vulvar and vaginal atrophy” (VVA), the thinning and drying of vaginal tissue during perimenopause is often associated with itching, irritation, and/or pain during sexual intercourse (also known as dyspareunia).
Research tells us that declining estrogen during perimenopause is the culprit behind vaginal dryness. And unfortunately, though many women think it will get better on its own, it doesn’t usually resolve with time. Instead, women who report symptoms of vaginal dryness during perimenopause frequently report worsening symptoms as they age.
Symptoms of vaginal dryness are especially impactful on a woman’s quality of life during and after perimenopause.
Mood-related symptoms like depression and anxiety can occur for some women during the menopausal transition. Researchers have determined that there may be a hormonal component to the onset of these symptoms since estrogen therapy has a short-term benefit for some women. Still, other factors such as age, income and employment, stress, quality of family relationships and support, and other perimenopausal symptoms like irregular cycles play a role as well. Attitudes towards aging and menopause also seem to affect women’s predisposition to depression during perimenopause.
Women with a prior history of major depression or postpartum depression, or with a family history of depression may be more likely to develop depressive symptoms during perimenopause. For some women, symptoms of anxiety and depression may be related to the change in their reproductive status, especially if they have wanted children but not been able to have them. For women with children, the “empty nest” syndrome as older children leave the home to begin their adult lives can also lead to mood-related symptoms.
Tranquility Labs’ all-natural herbal and nutritional supplement, Estrolene Perimenopause Support, may help to ease mood-related symptoms associated with perimenopause. Vitamin E, Magnolia Bark and Chaste Tree Berry help in different ways to reduce symptoms of mood swings, irritability, anxiety and stress during perimenopause.
Research tells us that over 25% of women experience sleep issues that can be diagnosed as “insomnia” during perimenopause. Sleep disturbances during perimenopause can lead to daytime fatigue and impact quality of life for women who experience them. Over 40% of perimenopausal women self-report sleep difficulties that can include difficulty falling or staying asleep and poor sleep quality. These symptoms seem to increase in later perimenopause. Associated signs of perimenopause like hot flashes and depression can increase the likelihood of sleep disturbances, as can sleep-related breathing and movement disorders like sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.
There seems to be a correlation with sleep issues and hormone fluctuations during perimenopause. Decreasing estrogen and increasing FSH levels seem to be associated with a greater difficulty staying asleep during the night and worsening sleep quality. Stress, overall health, and pain conditions increase the likelihood that a woman will experience sleep disturbances during the menopausal transition.
Memory and Cognition
Complaints of memory issues and difficulty focusing are common among women during and after perimenopause. These symptoms can include problems with word or number recall, a reliance on memory aids, and general forgetfulness (e.g. forgetting what one is doing in the middle of a task). Memory and cognition issues do appear to be more closely associated with the menopausal transition than with age in general. Scientists also think that cognitive difficulties reported during perimenopause may be related to depression and hormonal or hot flash-related sleep issues.
Research suggests that there may be a hormonal component to the changes in cognition that occur during perimenopause. Unfortunately, hormone replacement therapy has also been associated with a greater occurrence of cognitive decline and conditions like dementia. Mind-body medicine, nutrition, and supplementation with safe and effective herbs like those found in Estrolene may be a helpful way to counteract perimenopause related issues with memory and cognition.
Changes in Bone Density
Loss of bone density is a common sign of perimenopause. According to research, loss of bone density is greatest in the year leading up to the last menstrual period and about two years after menopause. Bone loss seems to increase as estrogen decreases and FSH increases and is greater in women with a lower Body Mass Index (BMI).
Loss of bone density can increase a woman’s risk of fracture, which can be as high as 50% in Caucasian women. Lifestyle factors can increase this risk, and perimenopausal women are advised to eat a balanced diet, engage in regular exercise, avoid smoking or excessive alcohol intake, and supplement with Calcium and Vitamin D.
Estrolene for Perimenopausal Support includes Vitamins D, E, and Calcium to help support healthy bones and immune function and reduce joint inflammation.
Signs of Perimenopause
The signs of perimenopause may be different for every woman, but there are common symptoms that signify the menopausal transition. One of the most commonly reported signs is vasomotor symptoms – hot flashes and night sweats. Menstrual irregularity and other changes to the regular menstrual cycle are also quite common and one of the characteristic signs of perimenopause. Cycles can become more or less frequent, shorter, longer, heavier or lighter than usual and can often happen with or without ovulation. Hormonal fluctuations in estrogen, FSH, and Inhibin B are involved in these changes.
Other signs of perimenopause can include changes in the vaginal tissue including dryness, itching, irritation or pain during sex. Mood-related symptoms like depression or anxiety and sleep-related issues are reported by some women during perimenopause. Problems with memory and cognition may also be related to the hormonal changes that happen during perimenopause. Loss of bone density is a problem for many perimenopausal and menopausal women, which can increase their risk of falls and fractures.