Improving Your Health and Wellbeing

Perimenopause Explained

by Ernest Smith

Perimenopause is defined as the transition stage as you move toward menopause, which brings your reproductive years to a close. Perimenopause often begins in your forties, but it can begin earlier or later in a small proportion of women. Your oestrogen levels will fluctuate unpredictably during perimenopause and this is at the root of many of the symptoms women experience during this time. Perimenopause lasts until you have had no menstrual period for twelve months in a row, at which point you are considered to have entered menopause. Read on to learn about common symptoms of perimenopause and treatment options that can help manage troublesome symptoms.

Symptoms Of Perimenopause

Symptoms of perimenopause will vary from woman to woman, and some women will experience more severe symptoms than others. Common symptoms of perimenopause include menstrual cycle changes, such as longer or shorter periods, changes in menstrual flow and unpredictable cycle lengths. You may also experience hot flashes or night sweats, irritability and low mood or a reduced sex drive. It's quite common for women to experience vaginal dryness, which can impact the enjoyment of sexual intercourse. Additionally, your LDL cholesterol levels can increase as a result of reduced oestrogen levels, and this leaves you at an increased risk of heart disease due to high cholesterol.

Treatment For Perimenopause

Not all women feel they need any type of treatment for perimenopause, but if you are struggling to cope with any of the symptoms you are experiencing, there are treatment options available to help make symptoms more manageable. Hormone therapy can help regulate your oestrogen levels and can be particularly effective in reducing night sweats and hot flashes. This type of treatment can also increase your interest in sexual intercourse by reducing vaginal dryness and discomfort.

If your mood has been affected, an antidepressant may be helpful either on its own or in combination with counselling. Speaking to a counsellor can help you sort through how you feel about the changes your body is going through that you really have very little control over. It's quite common for women to mourn the loss of their fertility and to feel anxious about entering menopause and what that may bring.

If you develop high cholesterol, your doctor can support you to make some lifestyle changes in a bid to bring your cholesterol back within the normal range. These changes may include increasing the fibre in your diet, losing weight or stopping smoking, and your doctor can refer you to an appropriate tertiary support service. You may require medication to lower your cholesterol, and your doctor will want to monitor your levels until the problem is under control.

If you are struggling with symptoms related to perimenopause, don't suffer in silence. Medical centres often run women's health clinics that are quick and easy to access and can provide information and support. To learn more about women's healthcare, contact a local medical clinic.