Perimenopause is the phase leading up to menopause, the point at which a woman’s menstrual cycle comes to an end. This transitional period can last anywhere from 2 to 10 years and is characterized by a variety of physical and emotional symptoms. During perimenopause, your body:
Perimenopause is a natural occurrence that takes place when your ovaries gradually cease functioning. Ovulation may become inconsistent and eventually stop altogether. Your menstrual cycle will lengthen, and the flow may become irregular leading up to your final period.
The symptoms of perimenopause are caused by fluctuating hormone levels within the body. When estrogen levels are high, you might experience PMS-like symptoms, while lower estrogen levels can lead to hot flashes and night sweats. These hormonal fluctuations may coincide with your regular cycles.
Each woman’s experience with perimenopause is unique. However, the most frequently reported symptoms include:
It’s important to consult your healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis, as perimenopause symptoms can resemble those of other conditions.
Determining whether you’re experiencing perimenopause can be challenging. Your healthcare provider may consider your symptoms, medical history, age, and a physical examination to help with the diagnosis. Blood tests to measure hormone levels might also be recommended.
The science of gauging one’s closeness to menopause is rooted in hormonal testing. Two significant hormones play pivotal roles in this assessment:
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH): This hormone’s level is a key indicator of menopause. A test for FSH is usually conducted on day three of the menstrual cycle if menstruating, or any day if menstruation has ceased. An FSH level above 25 suggests that menopause could commence within one to three years.
Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH): AMH levels inversely correlate with FSH levels. An AMH level under one, coupled with an FSH level above 25, strongly indicates a close approach to menopause.
It’s advisable to have more than one reading of FSH levels as they can fluctuate monthly, providing a clearer picture of the hormonal landscape.
Perimenopause doesn’t require treatment unless the symptoms are causing discomfort. Possible treatments include:
Your healthcare provider may also recommend lifestyle adjustments:
While some herbal supplements claim to help manage hot flashes, it’s important to remember that the FDA does not regulate these products. They haven’t undergone the same testing as conventional medications to establish their effectiveness and safety. Always consult your healthcare provider before using any herbal supplements.
To get the most out of your healthcare provider visit, consider the following tips:
If you find that perimenopause symptoms are significantly impacting your daily life, Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) might be a solution worth considering. BHRT can help alleviate symptoms by stabilizing your hormone levels, making this phase more manageable. Remember, you have the power to take control of your perimenopause journey and improve your quality of life.