Menopause. You’ve heard about it. You know it’s going to happen, but it seemed so far in the future – no reason to learn about it now, right? Not true!
Perimenopause is the beginning stage
What if we told you that symptoms could start as early as your 40s or even 30s?! Perimenopause is the first, transitional stage of menopause. The average time that perimenopause lasts is about four years, but this can widely vary. Perimenopause ends when a woman has gone a full year without having a period – this signals the beginning of menopause.
How do I know if I’m experiencing perimenopause?
This can sometimes be tricky. Many providers can make a diagnosis if you talk to them about the symptoms that you are experiencing. Sometimes hormone level checks can help, but because hormone levels vary during this stage, the results can be inconsistent.
The best thing you can do is know your body. Make healthy choices and note when things change and new symptoms appear. You may only notice subtle changes or you may have more severe symptoms. Often, irregular periods are the first sign of perimenopause. Get regular check-ups and talk with your provider about any changes you’re experiencing and together you can develop a plan for managing any discomfort you may be having.
Okay, but what the heck is happening to my body?
As women age, the ovaries gradually create less estrogen. This is what happens during perimenopause. As the drop in estrogen accelerates, many women will experience menopause symptoms. Once you complete the perimenopause stage and reach menopause, you will officially kiss those periods goodbye. After menopause, your body makes much less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. It is this lack of hormones that can cause changes to your health and produce the symptoms associated with menopause.
Can I still get pregnant?
During perimenopause you can still become pregnant. While your ovulation may be inconsistent, it will still happen. You should still take proper precautions during this time. You are not completely through the perimenopause until you have had a full year without your period – this means no bleeding or spotting for 12 months in a row.
After menopause, you will no longer have a period and cannot get pregnant. Ditch those birth control pills once and for all!
I’ve heard about hot flashes and night sweats. Are there any other symptoms of menopause?
Yes, there are many symptoms that women can experience during the stages of menopause. Women who are entering perimenopause generally have at least one of these symptoms:
- Hot flashes & night sweats
- Mood swings
- Breast tenderness
- Irregular periods
- Lower sex drive
- Vaginal dryness; discomfort during sex
- Weight gain
- Urine leakage when coughing or sneezing
- Urinary urgency (an urgent need to urinate more frequently)
I heard that female viagra can help with menopause symptoms. Is this true?
The term “female viagra,” is a misleading tagline created by the media that seems to cover a variety of treatments. Be careful when reading information on this type of treatment and always make sure to ask your provider to check the accuracy of what you’re reading. We do offer one injectable medication to increase libido in women that is used on an as-needed basis. We also have a daily oral medication that can be used to increase libido. Hormones will often play an important role in improving libido, so that is definitely worth a look if you are experiencing this symptom.
How do I treat symptoms of menopause and perimenopause?
It’s important to talk to your provider about your symptoms and determine which options might be best for you. You should also re-evaluate each year as your needs and symptoms may change over time.
Are there any natural remedies to try?
Many women use natural remedies as part of their treatment plan. Your provider can make recommendations for these, but here are a few ideas:
- Calcium and Vitamin D are important because women in menopause can often experience weakened bones due to a lack of hormones
- Maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise can help prevent/ease symptoms
- Avoid triggers as some foods can cause an increase in hot flashes and night sweats. Caffeine, spicy foods, and alcohol are often triggers for these issues.
- Stay hydrated
- Natural/herbal supplements – many women see positive effects when taking supplements. Talk to your provider to find out more and learn what supplements might benefit you based on your specific symptoms.
What if natural remedies aren’t working for my menopause symptoms?
There are also some medical therapies and treatments that can help women manage their symptoms.
- Massage, acupuncture and relaxation techniques can be helpful
- Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy – using natural bioidentical hormones can provide relief without the risks that come along with synthetic hormones
Take control of your health
Women spend approximately 50% of their lives post-menopause. Being proactive in managing your symptoms ensures that you maintain a healthier lifestyle. You aren’t alone and there is no reason to suffer silently during this stage of your life. Nore Women’s Health is here to help.
Menopause and perimenopause stir up a lot of questions as every woman’s body reacts differently to each phase. Nore is focused on providing specialized care to women for the treatment of these symptoms. Reach out to us with any questions and know your concerns will be heard. We’re here to help you Be Your Most.