Are you experiencing menopause-like symptoms but think you’re “too young”? It’s not all in your head, you could be experiencing what is called “perimenopause”, a condition where you notice menopause related symptoms in the years before actual menopause. Menopause is actually a one day event, the day when you’ve not had a menstrual cycle for 12 months in a row, those months and years leading up to that day is called perimenopause. You will begin to lose estrogen and the ability to become pregnant as you go through this.
Usually women will start to go through this around their mid forties or fifties, but can be seen in women as early as their thirties. There have been cases of it occurring in the twenties, but this is highly unlikely occurrence. There is no set amount of time that you can go through these changes, anywhere from a few months to a few years is likely.
Symptoms of perimenopause can vary widely between people. Some may only experience their menstrual changes, some may get tremendous hot flashes, and then there are others that will get the full spectrum of symptoms even those that are the lesser known symptoms. Typical symptoms are hot flashes, hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, itching, vaginal dryness, bleeding, urinary frequency, urinary urgency, urinary incontinence, osteoporosis, joint pain, muscle pain, back pain, breast atrophy, skin thinning, decreased skin elasticity, mood disturbances, irritability, fatigue, memory loss, depression, decreased libido, problems reaching orgasm, and dyspareunia (pain with sex).
If you are starting to suspect yourself of going through these chances keep a diary of your symptoms, include in it the day your period starts, the day it ends, and if it is light or heavy. Also mark any days of spotting between your period and your sleep patterns. Any symptom you have, make a mark in this diary about it. Keep this up for about three months and then hand that diary to a well informed gynecologist to look over. This will give him a much broader look at what is going on with you.
Some treatments that you can look into include birth control pills to ease symptoms. They will help regulate your periods and give you a bit of estrogen. You will need to talk it over with your doctor to get a prescription for birth control pills. After you indeed reach menopause you may be switched from birth control pills to hormone replacement therapy or HRT. HRT has been linked to higher risk of some cancers, so weigh your risks to its advantages. Adding calcium rich foods or calcium supplements can reduce your risk of osteoporosis. Reducing your intake of alcohol and caffeine can reduce your chances of hot flashes. Exercise can help with the muscle aches, help you sleep better, and give you a mood boost. Try yoga to also help you relax and relieve some of the anxiety symptoms.
For More Information:
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Office on Women’s Health
Internet Address: www.fda.gov/womens/menopause
The North American Menopause Society
Phone: (800) 774-5342
Internet Address: http://www.menopause.org/