Menopause is NOT a disease or a disorder!
Perimenopause and Menopause
“Women’s changes” or life transitions generally refer to both Menopause and Perimenopause. They show up during the same period of life, yet they each have their own set of symptoms and problems. Every woman is different and may experience any combination of these mental and physical symptoms in their own unique ways.
What’s the difference between Menopause and Perimenopause?
Perimenopause (meaning “around” menopause) encompasses the years leading up to menopause. You are considered to be in Menopause when you haven’t had your period for 12 consecutive months. The phase after you’ve gone through menopause is referred to as postmenopause.
Menopause refers to the end of female reproduction, the term officially referring to the end of menstruation and the absence of your period for 12 consecutive months. The average age a woman enters menopause is 52 years old, although it can occur earlier or later.
Perimenopause is the wonderful (Not!), crazy period preceding menopause. It usually begins to really show up in your mid-to-late 40’s and can generally last from a few months to about 4 years, but again, every woman is unique. Perimenopause is a natural process caused when your ovaries gradually stop working and begin producing less of the hormone estrogen. These fluctuations in hormones can cause all sorts of symptoms.
- fluctuations in the frequency, duration and intensity of your periods
- hot flashes and night sweats
- sleep disturbances
- mood swings
- anxiety and irritability
- see long list of perimenopause symptoms
Perimenopause continues until your ovaries stop producing enough estrogen to release eggs, at which time your period finally stops.
Perimenopause and your period
Irregular periods (even if they were always spot-on, no pun intended) are a symptom of perimenopause. This is caused by fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels, which are the hormones produced by your ovaries that regulate your menstrual cycle. These erratic hormone levels can make your once-regular periods become unpredictable, sometimes coming more frequently, and then other times a long gap in between periods. It sucks when you feel like you just finished one, only to have the signs of the next one already coming, but it is not uncommon. The length of time between periods can vary from month to month during perimenospause, as well as the heaviness and duration of the flow. As you progress closer and closer to menopause, your periods should occur less frequently until they finally just stop, possibly to return a few times to torture you before they stop altogether.
You have finally reached menopause when you haven’t had your period for 12 consecutive months. While it sounds like a time to celebrate the fact that the perimenopause hell is over, menopause comes with its own set of challenges and symptoms.
- dry skin
- vaginal dryness
- bladder leaks/incontinence
- frequent urination
- loss of sex drive
- body aches
- Thinning hair
- Loss of breast fullness.
- see long list of menopause symptoms
As always, you should talk to your doctor during your checkups about what is going on with your perimenopause and menopause journey. They can determine whether these symptoms and issues are a normal part of going through your changes or if they are a sign of some other underlying condition. And if your Doctor doesn’t listen to your concerns, find a doctor who will. Menopause is real, and it’s hard enough to find support and someone who understands what you are going through. The more they know about what you are dealing with, the more they can help.