You may have heard the term “perimenopause” and wondered if it might apply to you. It’s kind of a buzzword right now! If you are female and in your 40s, 50s, or even 30s and experiencing hot flashes, night sweats, or fluctuations in your menstrual cycle, you may be experiencing perimenopause.
“What is perimenopause,” you ask? And “more importantly, do I have it?” Don’t worry, we’re going to explain everything and walk you through all of the signs and symptoms to help you identify whether or not you are indeed experiencing perimenopause.
What is Perimenopause?
The word “perimenopause” comes from the combination of the Greek prefix “peri” meaning “about” or “around” and “menopause,” which refers to the complete cessation of a woman’s menstrual cycle. This often happens between the ages of 45 and 50, but it can occur before or after that for some women since a woman is not technically in menopause until one full year after her last menstrual cycle. The term perimenopause is used to describe the transition time between the beginning of menopausal symptoms and the actual cessation of the menstrual period. These symptoms generally occur gradually over time, perimenopause is sometimes also referred to as the “menopausal transition.”
But you might be wondering what causes perimenopause. The simple answer is hormones! Yes, those little molecules produced by our endocrine glands have a lot to do with the physiological and emotional changes that characterize perimenopause.
Estrogen is a big player, although researchers admittedly still have a lot to learn about the role this hormone plays in the menopausal transition. We know that as women age, the number and quality of our ovarian egg follicles begin to decline. Progesterone and estrogen production begins to slow, and ovulation becomes more irregular. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing hormone (LH) rise in an attempt to stimulate estrogen production and ovulation. FSH levels actually seem to be a better predictor of whether a woman is perimenopausal than estrogen levels.
So what does all of this mean? It means that your body is changing, and so are your hormones. You are going through the transition between your reproductive years and what we like to call your “wisdom years.” This transition may be rough or easy depending on how your body responds to the changes taking place, so let’s take a look at the most common signs and symptoms of perimenopause.
Signs and Symptoms
Hot flashes, mood swings, irregular cycles, and other perimenopausal symptoms might make you feel a little crazy, but we assure you, you are not. While women may experience a range of perimenopausal symptoms based on physiological, geographical, and cultural factors (and probably other factors we don’t completely understand yet), research tells us that the vast majority of women do seek help for at least some of their symptoms.
One of the first signs of perimenopause is usually fluctuations in the menstrual cycle. Irregular cycles can manifest as early or late periods, missed periods, or periods that are heavier, lighter, shorter or longer than usual. As your egg follicles decline in number, and hormonal production fluctuates, your body may skip or delay ovulation. Some women may also experience an increase in PMS symptoms like breast tenderness, bloating, or moodiness.
Hot flashes and night sweats may be the most common (and bothersome) symptoms during perimenopause. Thought to be caused by hormonal changes during the menopausal transition, hot flashes typically present as a wave of heat in the upper body – the scalp, neck, chest or face. They can be accompanied by flushing, warmth, and sweating. Some women experience them frequently, others only sporadically. Hot flashes can persist after menopause for some women, but not all.
Night sweats are another vasomotor symptom that can accompany perimenopause. It can range from mild to severe and be accompanied by only slight warmth and sweating or enough sweat to drench your clothes or sheets.
Some women during permenopause experience moodiness, irritability, anxiety. Some researchers draw a link between estrogen fluctuations and a higher risk of mood disorders like depression, but other factors may be involved, too. High-stress levels, poor health and nutrition, and a history of depression may put women at a greater risk of depression during perimenopause as well.
Declining estrogen levels during perimenopause can cause vaginal tissue to thin and become drier. This can lead to itching and irritation, and some women may experience pain or discomfort during sex (also known as dyspareunia).
Perimenopause may be accompanied by other symptoms like sleep issues (which may be related to night sweats), memory issues, or difficulty concentrating. Genetic and other factors may make you more or less likely to experience these symptoms.
Am I Perimenopausal?
Now that we’ve discussed some of the signs and symptoms of perimenopause, you may have a better idea of whether or not you are experiencing it. Most women begin the menopausal transition in their 40s or 50s, but some women may even begin to experience symptoms in their 30s.
What To Do?
Take our quiz to find out if you are perimenopausal.
You may be permenopausal if you are between the ages of 40 and 58 and experiencing the signs and symptoms discussed above. If you’re not sure, it’s always best to check with your doctor for confirmation. He or she may order a blood test to check your hormone levels, but more often the diagnosis will be based on clinical presentation – your age, menstrual history, and symptoms. You can also take our quiz to see if you are indeed in perimenopause!
Perimenopause is a natural part of the aging process for women. If you are experiencing symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, irregular cycles, mood changes, or vaginal dryness, you may benefit from Tranquility Labs’ Estrolene Perimenopause Support. Estrolene’s all-natural formula can help smooth the road ahead with a blend of vitamins and botanicals specifically designed for this time in your life.
Estrolene Perimenopause Support contains nutritional and herbal support to help elevate hot flashes, night sweats, stress, and mood-related symptoms. It also supports healthy bones – an important concern for women as we age.