Officially, menopause is when a woman has gone a full year – 12 months – without having her period anymore. A woman will first experience signs that menopause is on the proverbial radar, and this phase is called perimenopause.
There is no definitive age or delineation of when this health phase is supposed to begin, or even how long it will last. All of a sudden, your periods will become irregular, they may be extra heavy or extra light, or they may stop and then start again two months later.
Many of the same symptoms that are typically associated with menopause are also associated with perimenopause. This in-between phase can last for several years, and your body may experience inconsistent effects. Some women have very minor symptoms, but others have severe symptoms that can interfere with their lifestyle.
First Symptoms of Perimenopause
There are some subtle and some not-so-subtle symptoms that perimenopause brings with it. As ovulation becomes more unpredictable, the length of time between periods could be shorter or longer.
You may experience hot flashes or cold flashes, and you may occasionally feel irritable. Do not forget about contraception if you do not want to become pregnant, because you are indeed still capable of becoming pregnant as long as you are still menstruating.
If you do wish to become pregnant, talk to a health care professional about the viability of a pregnancy. Becoming pregnant at this late stage may be harmful for you and a prospective baby, so it is best for you to be tested in order to ensure your optimum health.
Indicators of Menopause
Not long before you are likely to begin actual menopause, your symptoms may become more extreme or intense. The symptoms can include:
- Longer-lasting hot flashes
- More intense hot flashes
- More frequent hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Difficulty sleeping
- Inconsistent sleep patterns
- Mood swings
- Vaginal dryness
- Painful intercourse
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Urinary incontinence
Changes in Bodily Composition
Since estrogen levels are declining during this stage of life, the bone renewal process will start to decline. Your bones will lose density more quickly than new bone can regenerate to replace the lost bone cells.
This reduction in bone density increases your risk of osteoporosis, which causes fragile bones. The estrogen factor is why women are more at risk of osteoporosis than men are.
Many of the changes caused by perimenopause and menopause are due to the body’s reduced production of both estrogen and progesterone. The progesterone hormone is a female sex hormone that prepares the uterus for pregnancy and causes a period every 28 days or so while the woman is fertile.
When your body goes a full 12 consecutive months without having your period, you are considered postmenopausal – which means that menopause has commenced. At that point, contraception is no longer necessary to prevent pregnancy.
Wellness Clinic in Sarasota
If you are tired of feeling all of the side effects of perimenopause or being menopausal, contact our skilled team at Intercoastal Medical Group to schedule a consultation. We have the natural and medical solutions you need to get back to feeling like yourself again.
Intercoastal Medical Group Gynecologist Jon Yenari, MD, is an expert in managing menopause and other gynecological conditions. Please call is office to schedule an appointment: (941)379-1700. His office is located at 3333 Cattlemen Road, Suite 200, Sarasota, FL.