A recognition that a transitional period happens before menopause varies from woman to woman. Hormones become unbalanced and fluctuate causing distress to the body. Symptoms of perimenopause can occur as early as 10 to 15 years prior to the complete cessation of menses. Women may transition in and out of a perimenopausal state before actually entering menopause.
Signs and Symptoms
Many women experience irregular periods, heavy bleeding, hot flashes, sleep disruption, headaches, dry eyes, vaginal changes, hair loss, weight gain, loss of libido or emotional distress. These are all common signs of perimenopause. Frequently overlooked signals include lack of concentration and even short term memory impairment. These cognitive effects along with anxiety, fatigue, depression, and extreme mood swings can all be traced back to hormonal fluctuations associated with perimenopause. You may be relieved to know that there are solutions to place your body back into balance. You will need to consult your physician to see what solution should work best for you.
The severity of symptoms often seems to be influenced by other outside factors that women place on their bodies during their lifetime. Poor nutrition, chronic stress, and a lack of daily exercise are three major intensifiers. Lifestyle choices such as smoking or drinking are also amplifying factors. Many women fear the presumed end to their reproduction ability. This fear also upsets the hormones and places the body out of a state of balance. It is normal for a woman's body to consistently change or fluctuate during perimenopause, yet it is quite manageable.
Low estrogen levels may leave you more vulnerable to urinary or vaginal infections. Unusual mucus or other substances coming from the vagina is a common problem. The discharge is often caused by infection, and frequently accompanied by pain, burning, itching, and painful urination.
Each infection produces a distinct discharge, including thick, white cottage cheese-like discharge is the result of a yeast infection; thin, yellow, foul-smelling discharge results from Trichomonas; and/or thin, gray or white, foul-smelling discharge is due to bacterial vaginosis.
When to see a Doctor
Because subtle symptoms may come on gradually, you may not realize at first that they're all connected to perimenopause. Some women may seek immediate medical attention for their symptoms, while other women may not experience any severe changes and therefore simply tolerate their symptoms. If you do experience anything that may interfere with your life or well-being, such as hot flashes, mood swings or heavy bleeding that concern you, see your doctor.
Tests and Diagnosis
Perimenopause is a process, a gradual transition. Your doctor takes many things into consideration, including your age, menstrual history, and what symptoms or body changes you're experiencing. Some doctors may order tests to check your hormone levels. Your doctor will want to know detailed descriptions of all of your symptoms as well as any medications you are currently taking. There is no one definitive test or sign to let you know that your are entering perimenopause.
Everyone's treatment will vary according different aspects. You will need to consult your doctor for the best treatment available to you.
The most common treatments include oral contraceptives. These are often the most effective treatment to relieve perimenopausal symptoms. Low-dose pills can regulate periods and reduce hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Progestin therapy reduces and regulates heavy bleeding and provides relief during perimenopause.
Whether you choose standardized medical treatment, or a natural approach to perimenopause, treatment is available for you.