Menopause, a series of hormonal changes that women typically between 40 and 60, is an important phase in a woman’s life. While most people have a general understanding of menopause fewer people are familiar with the early stages of these bodily changes, perimenopause.
Perimenopause happens before menopause when women start to experience the first symptoms of these hormonal changes. This intermediary phase before menopause can be confusing, especially if you aren’t familiar with how menopause affects your body. If you are experiencing the following symptoms, you may be entering the early perimenopause.
Period irregularities a common sign of perimenopause. Because menopause is marked by twelve consecutive months of not having your period (without being pregnant or having another reason for missed periods) your period becoming irregular can be a sign you’re nearing menopause. Irregular periods may mean your body is still ovulating, though not on the typical monthly cycle.
Delays in your periods, changes in duration of your period, and spotting in between periods or after sex can all be signs of perimenopause. However, these symptoms can also be signs of other conditions so be sure to consult your physician if you are unsure.
Many women experience vaginal dryness during perimenopause. The vagina is usually lined with a thin layer of fluid, which preserves the moisture and keeps the vagina lubricated. In perimenopause, estrogen levels start to drop, often leading to vaginal dryness. This may cause irritation and discomfort during sex.
Hot flashes are another common symptom of perimenopause and menopause. During a hot flash, the blood vessels right below the skin become dilated, which leads to sweating and redness in your face and neck. A hot flash is also characterized by an extreme feeling of heat. Hot flashes can be triggered by certain foods and cause some women to lose sleep.
Insomnia and Fatigue
Hormonal changes can also affect your sleep patterns. As a result, feelings of fatigue, loss of energy, and difficulty sleeping are also common during menopause. Insomnia and fatigue can also be a result of other health conditions, so consult your doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms.
The female body prepares for menopause gradually, producing less estrogen over time. This is why premenstrual syndrome can get worse during perimenopause. You might experience more bloating, breasts tenderness, and mood swings, than you normally do as a result of changes in your hormone balance.
Perimenopause and menopause are natural stages most women go through between their forties and sixties. If you are experiencing pain, irritation, or negative side effects of perimenopause, be sure to consult your doctor about dietary changes, best health practices, and ways to relieve these negative symptoms.