Perimenopause: What is it?

What is peri-menopause?
The average age for menopause is 50-51, but the body starts preparing for menopause years in advance. The biological changes that take place in the seven to eight years prior to menopause are referred to as perimenopause, or menopausal transition. As a woman's ovaries produce less and less estrogen, the regular pattern of the menstrual cycle becomes disrupted and the frequency of normal cycles declines. It is not uncommon for women to experience a mixture of normal, short and long cycles during perimenopause. Premenopausal irregularity can begin as early as age 36.

Symptoms of Peri-menopause

  • Hot flashes or sudden flushes. These are feelings of heat that spread over the body, and usually include a flushed face and sweating. While most uncomfortable at night, hot flashes can appear at any time of the day without warning.
  • Drying and thinning of the vaginal tissues. The tissues supporting the pelvic organs lose their elasticity resulting in painful intercourse, or urinary tract problems.
  • Osteoporosis (bone loss) as a result of lowered estrogen levels can be common. Women who are at higher risk for osteoporosis are thin, smokers, most likely Asian or white, and not very physically active. It is advised to increase calcium intake and physical activity.
  • Cardiovascular disease becomes more of a risk for women after menopause. The decrease of estrogen does no longer give the natural protection from heart attack and stroke.
  • Emotional changes, mood swings, irritability, depression
Not all women experience these symptoms, and they do not necessarily last for the duration of the perimenopausal period. Some ways to relieve or prevent these symptoms is to eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly.

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