Category Archives: Menopause

What Are The Signs of Perimenopause

What Are The Signs of Perimenopause?

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Perimenopause is the stage before menopause, also known as menopause transition. As the female body begins to transition into menopause, it also produces less estrogen. This natural transition indicates the end of reproductive years, until eventually the female body no longer produces eggs. During perimenopause, women still have their periods, but the cycles’ durations can change, becoming longer, shorter, or skipped altogether.

Once a woman has not had a period in 12 consecutive months, perimenopause is over, and menopause has begun. The signs of perimenopause are a result of decreasing estrogen, and can be uncomfortable and unexpected. For women approaching menopause, it is important to understand what the signs of perimenopause are. Seeking the right professional counsel and treatment can help make your perimenopause experience more tolerable.

When Does Perimenopause Start?

The change of life that occurs with perimenopause is different for every woman. Typically, the process begins when a woman is in her 40s, but can occur as early as her 30s. Changes in the body due to hormonal fluctuations mark the beginning of perimenopause. However, the true beginning of perimenopause is at birth. At birth, every woman has the total number of eggs she will ever have in each ovary. During puberty, the body ovulates and prepares itself for reproduction. During perimenopause, the opposite takes place. As perimenopause takes place, the body has depleted its supply of eggs ending the natural reproductive cycle. It is important to be honest with your healthcare provider and loved ones if you feel you are in perimenopause.

How Long Does Perimenopause Last?

Perimenopause lasts until menopause begins, which is after 12 consecutive missed periods. In years, perimenopause typically lasts for four years, but some women may only experience perimenopause for a few months, or it may last up to 10 years.

Estrogen During Perimenopause

Changing levels in circulating oxygen throughout the female body are the direct cause of perimenopause. During puberty and a woman’s natural reproductive years, estrogen within the body rises and falls at regular intervals. Two hormones specifically control estrogen: follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH) and luteinizing hormones (LH). Various amounts of FSH and LH control regular ovulation, causing the egg to fall during ovulation. Ultimately, this process is what causes pregnancy, but if pregnancy does not occur, the cycle begins again. Changes in these two hormones during perimenopause alter the cycle completely, until menstruation ceases to occur.

What Are Early Signs of Perimenopause?

Perimenopause might seem to happen unexpectedly, but there are early signs that indicate perimenopause. Symptoms vary among women, and never occur to the same degree. It is important for woman to be observant of their bodies as they approach common perimenopause age. Some of these early symptoms of perimenopause may include:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Worsening premenstrual syndrome
  • Changing cholesterol levels
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Discomfort during sex
  • Urine leakage
Perimenopause

Women who are unsure if they are experiencing perimenopause should consult their doctor. A doctor can usually diagnose perimenopause based on symptoms alone, otherwise a blood test may be helpful. Blood tests will measure hormone levels, but while hormone levels are changing, it is common practice to take several blood tests at different times for comparison.

What Are Common Symptoms of Perimenopause?

Perimenopause is a biological change in hormones, however common life changes due to aging also play a role in perimenopausal symptoms. A woman should understand what are the symptoms of perimenopause specifically, and differentiate between lifestyle changes such as children leaving, changes in careers, or death or illness of parents common at this time.

  • Perimenopause periods: Irregular cycles and spotting instead of a period characterize perimenopause periods. Changes in periods may include shorter or longer cycles, heavy or lighter flows, spotting, or skipping periods altogether. A change of seven days or more indicates perimenopause, while a change of 60 days or more indicates late perimenopause. 
  • Hot flashes: Most women believe that hot flashes are only characteristic of menopause, but they often begin in perimenopause. Hot flashes can vary from a slight feeling of warmth to an overwhelming feeling of consumption by fire, inside and out. A significant hot flash can induce facial and upper body redness, swelling, chills, visible perspiration, and even confusion. 
  • Decreasing fertility: Irregular ovulation inevitably means that the likelihood of conception and pregnancy decreases. However, even during perimenopause pregnancy is not impossible. Pregnancy is still possible until a woman hasn’t had a period for 12 consecutive months. 
  • Changes in sexual function: Significant changes in a woman’s body will often cause changes in sexual function such as lower sex drive and a decrease in arousal. Vaginal dryness and changes in bladder function can also contribute to changes in sexual function. Restoration of sexual drive should occur after perimenopause has passes. 
  • Nausea: Perimenopause nausea is a result of varying levels of estrogen in the body. When levels of estrogen are particularly high, nausea is highest as well. In some women, this may require rehabilitation through medication or other treatment. 
  • Loss of bone: Loss of bone is also known as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a common occurrence as men and women age, but there is a direct link between decreasing estrogen levels and loss of bone.

These are the most common symptoms of perimenopause, but physicians do not consider all signs harmless. In order to rule out other conditions, a woman should consult her doctor if she experiences any other changes in bleeding, such as:

  • Heavy periods with blood clots
  • Periods that last several days longer than usual
  • Spotting between periods
  • Spotting after sex
  • Periods that occur close together

Any of these symptoms can be a result of other issues within the body not associated with perimenopause.

What Are My Perimenopause Treatment Options?

Perimenopause is a natural occurrence within the female body, but treatment is available for symptoms that get in the way of daily functioning. Doctors recommend improving general health and well-being through regular exercise and following a healthy diet, but other treatment options are available.

  • Hormone therapy: Hot flashes are one of the biggest concerns. Hormone therapy, in the form of pills, skin patches, gels or creams, can often alleviate the symptoms.
  • Vaginal estrogen: A vaginal estrogen cream applied directly to the tissue can help alleviate vaginal dryness, discomfort during intercourse, and some urinary problems.
  • Antidepressants: Antidepressants can help alleviate both mood swings and hot flashes.

Perimenopause occurs in all women, as early as their 30s or anytime throughout their 40s. If symptoms are mild, perimenopause may go unnoticed. Perimenopause has officially ended when a women has missed 12 consecutive periods, known as menopause. The most common symptoms of perimenopause include hot flashes, irregular periods, a decrease in fertility, nausea, and changes in sexual function.

Perimenopause is a natural occurrence within the female body. However, it is still important to consult your doctor when these changes occur. Specialists at AZ Gyn can provide early screening for women with low estrogen and treatment for perimenopause. AZ Gyn’s Gynecology Services and Minimally Invasive Procedures assist women towards attaining optimal health, including the treatment of perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms, enabling relief through compassionate, personalized care.

How Long Does Menopause Last on Average - Arizona Gynecology Consultants

How Long Does Menopause Last on Average?

This entry was posted in Menopause and tagged , on by .

The menopausal transition, or simply “menopause,” is a normal part of female aging. Once you start the transition, you’ll probably want to know exactly how long symptoms will last.

While every woman is different, here’s what to expect on average.

About Menopause

Estrogen Levels During Menopause Ages Graphic - Arizona Gynecology ConsultantsAll women experience menopause, with several different symptoms.The symptoms vary from woman to woman, and menopause is as unique a journey as the woman herself.

Menopause symptoms may include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Chills
  • Sleep problems / insomnia
  • Mood Swings / irritability
  • Pain during sex / vaginal dryness
  • Depression
  • Dry skin, dry eyes or dry mouth
  • Urinary urgency (a pressing need to urinate more frequently)

In few cases, women don’t have trouble with these symptoms. Once the menopausal transition is complete, you will no longer have to worry about periods or getting pregnant.

Hot Flashes

For most women, menopause is a relief that feels freeing in many ways. Getting through the transition, however, can be trying.

Knowing about how long your symptoms will last can help you focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. While you’re going through abrupt hot flashes and night sweats that keep you awake at night as well as irritability from lack of sleep, knowing that you’re just X amount of days from it being over can ease your mind.

 

Related Reading: Identify the Signs of Menopause [Infographic]

 

While there is no guarantee of exactly how long the transition will last, you can get a good idea of where you are on the journey by understanding the process and studying an average timeline.

The Average Timeline for Menopause

The menopause age range varies by more than a decade. The average age is 51, but menopause can start in women from their mid-40s to late 50s. Most women experience the menopause stage in this age range, while some report symptoms into their 60s.

Natural menopause happens in three stages:

  • Perimenopause
  • Menopause
  • Postmenopause

Sometimes perimenopause is confused with menopause. Perimenopause is when a woman starts to have hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness. This can start as early as the 30’s or as late as the 60’s. This is considered either early or premature menopause and late menopause, and can occur for a variety of reasons, such as surgeries or hormonal changes.

Some women in perimenopause may also have the following symptoms:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Worsening of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Irregular periods or skipping periods
  • Periods that are heavier or lighter than usual

Additional symptoms may include:

  • Racing heart
  • Headaches
  • Joint and muscle aches and pains
  • Changes in libido (sex drive)
  • Difficulty concentrating, memory lapses (often temporary)
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss or thinning

These symptoms are normal as part of the loss of estrogen production. However, if these are new symptoms after starting perimenopause, consult your doctor in order to rule out other health issues.

Menopause that occurs before the age of 45, regardless of the cause, is called early menopause. Menopause that occurs at 40 or younger is considered premature menopause. Perimenopausal symptoms and age will be as individual as each woman. Talk to your doctor if you’re not sure whether you’re beginning the menopausal transition. 

Contributing Factors 

Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) is another cause of premature menopause. With POI, younger women under 40, who have occasional  or no periods, and elevated levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), will have fewer eggs in their ovaries. This means lower estrogen levels as well and can cause bone density issues.

Happy womenAccording to the SWAN (Study of Women Across the Nation) study, smoking, either as a current smoker or former smoker, can also cause early onset of perimenopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats, by at least two years. Being overweight, stressed, depressed, or anxious can also start the ball rolling early. Ethnicity also plays a factor. African American women have a longer period of hot flashes – almost 11 years, while Japanese and Chinese women had half the time of dealing with hot flashes.

How Long is Menopause?

The perimenopausal stage can last from 10 months to four years on average, but has been known to last up to 10 years. It involves the body gradually decreasing in estrogen production until the last year or two, when estrogen levels drop dramatically. Perimenopause officially ends when a woman does not have her period for 12 consecutive months. 

Stages and symptoms of menopause

The woman is now at menopause. This is a point in time, rather than a period of time. The period of time after menopause is called postmenopause. Perimenopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats may continue for another few months or even years after menopause has been reached. 

Other symptoms that may continue are sleep problems, cognitive issues, mood changes and muscle and joint pain. Vaginal dryness is a symptom that will continue and tends to get worse with age. Although, less than 30% of women experience it during perimenopause and only half experience it in postmenopause.

So, how long does menopause last? From the start of perimenopause to the final cessation of all menopausal symptoms, the average transition takes between two and 10 years. There are some women who go through the process more quickly or more slowly than the median time.

If you experience early or late menopause, you may need to add or subtract a year or two to this average timeline. Every woman should rely on medical professionals to assess symptoms, estimate the duration and prescribe treatments for symptom relief.

Do You Have Early or Late Menopause?

Figuring out if you’re going through the transition early or late can help you gain a better understanding of how long menopause will last. If you start having irregular periods in your mid-40s, you may be experiencing early or premature menopause.Menopause Infographic

Heavy bleeding, spotting, a period after a year of no periods, or periods that are noticeably longer or shorter than normal can all signal early menopause, especially in combination with other common menopausal symptoms. 

If you are 55 or older and still haven’t noticed menopause symptoms, your doctor may diagnose you with late-onset menopause.

Late menopause may actually have some health benefits, while early menopause could potentially cause problems. During menopause, the production of estrogen and progesterone by the ovaries declines. In early-onset menopause, this cessation may cause problems such as osteoporosis. The longer your ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone, the longer you can avoid osteoporosis.

If you’re still having periods in your late 50s and 60s, see your doctor. Each woman’s reproductive system is different, so don’t be alarmed until you’ve spoken to a doctor.

Treating Menopause Symptoms

You may experience one or several symptoms, or hardly any symptoms at all. You may not notice perimenopausal symptoms until you’ve almost reached the menopause phase. Your entire transition could finish in just a few years, or could last longer than a decade.

Everyone is unique, and there is no concrete answer. It takes seeing a primary doctor to evaluate your symptoms, locate where you are on the general timeline, and estimate how much longer you will have to put up with symptoms.

obgynWhile you are combating symptoms for an unknown period of time, look into common forms of relief. If you have medical conditions exacerbating the symptoms of menopause, such as arthritis, chronic pain, anxiety or depression, your doctor can help address these issues to potentially reduce menopause symptoms.

Menopause is a normal part of life, and several tried-and-true treatment options exist to help control and tolerate common symptoms. You can maintain your desired lifestyle while experiencing menopause with a tailored treatment plan. We have expert women’s health services, if you are seeking a gynecologist in Phoenix. Talk to us about your symptoms and concerns, especially if your perimenopausal symptoms negatively affect your quality of life. We’re here to help.

Identify The Signs And Symptoms Of Menopause - Arizona Gynecology Consultants

Clinical and Holistic Remedies for Menopause

Have you entered pre-menopause? Or are you already dealing with menopause?

Looking for ways to deal with the onslaught of changes your body is dealing with?

To illustrate the signs and symptoms of menopause, we have taken the time to produce an expansive, helpful infographic that features not only signs that menopause may be starting, but also clinical and holistic ways of alleviating these symptoms.

Signs Symptoms and Holistic Clinical Remedies for Menopause Infographic - Arizona Gynecology

Learn Even More About Menopause