Due to a lack of awareness, symptoms can often be attributed to lifestyle choices or another cause entirely, leading millions of women on a global scale to suffer in silence and isolation, with little to no direction on which way to turn. When the day-to-day becomes challenging, it can be a huge relief to join the dots and understand the connection between the symptoms and midlife hormone fluctuations.
What is perimenopause?
Often when people talk about ‘going through the menopause’ they’re actually talking about perimenopause. Perimenopause is when your hormone levels start to change, but before your periods stop for good. It can cause a wide range of symptoms, both physically and mentally.
What triggers the perimenopause?
The perimenopause is a natural stage of life that occurs as you age. In most people, it will happen naturally from the age of 40 and last for a few months to several years. During perimenopause, your hormone levels change and your ovaries start to produce fewer eggs. Once you haven’t had a period for 12 months or more, you’ve officially reached menopause.
Some people start experiencing perimenopause before they are 40. This can be as a result of medical treatments, such as surgery to remove the ovaries, but sometimes there’s no cause. If you think you’re experiencing the perimenopause before you’re 40 then you must speak to your doctor.
What are the signs of the perimenopause?
The symptoms of perimenopause are caused by the hormonal changes happening in your body. Some people won’t have any symptoms, but most will. For some people, symptoms can be very severe and affect their daily lives.
Everybody’s experience will vary, but physical symptoms commonly include:
- changes in your menstrual cycle
- hot flushes and night sweats
- vaginal dryness
- incontinence and bladder problems
- weight gain
- joint and muscle pain
- difficulty sleeping
There are also other symptoms of the perimenopause that can affect your feelings and mental
health. These include:
- Feeling depressed
- Experiencing mood swings
- Problems with memory and concentration – sometimes called “brain fog”
- A loss of interest in sex
Managing symptoms of the perimenopause
Just because the perimenopause is a natural process, it doesn’t mean that it’s always easy to cope with. If you’re experiencing symptoms, there are some things that you can do that may help.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine if they seem to trigger your hot flushes, or if you’re having trouble sleeping.
- Use moisturisers and lubricants to help with vaginal dryness.
- Stop smoking as smoking can increase hot flushes.
- Do things that reduce your stress, such as practising yoga and mindfulness
- Try to get enough sleep.
- Eat a healthy balanced diet at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, plenty of fibre, and healthy fats from fish, nuts and seeds.
- Regular exercise to help manage your weight and give you more energy.
In preparation for menopause you might want to consider:
- Including two to three portions of calcium-rich foods, such as milk, cheese and yoghurt in your daily diet to help support your bones.
- Taking a daily supplement of 10 micrograms of vitamin D to help support your bone health.
There are also treatments that your doctor can prescribe if you need some support to improve your quality of life. These include:
- Hormones, also known as hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- medicines to ease specific symptoms
- help with your mental health, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
You don’t need to wait for your periods to stop before speaking to your doctor.
Can I still get pregnant?
Pregnancy is still possible if you’re experiencing perimenopause. However, it’s much less likely because you’re not ovulating as frequently.
For further information http://www.healthandher.com