Perimenopause: What To Expect During Your Time Of Transition

Perimenopause is the transition period that leads to menopause. Menopause officially occurs when a woman has gone one year without a period. However, the time leading up to that day can last anywhere from several months to ten years, with the average being about four years. These are the perimenopause years. They are full of both changes and challenges, but if you know what to expect you can prepare yourself and ease the transition. All in all there are about thirty-five different perimenopause symptoms, but this article will cover the main ones.

When Does Perimenopause Start?

For most women, perimenopause starts in the mid-forties but can occur as early as a woman’s thirties. Each woman’s time and journey is different. Perimenopause will last up until menopause, which can occur in a woman’s forties, fifties or even early sixties. The average age in the U.S. for menopause is fifty-one.

Expect Menstrual Changes

Some of the first changes you may notice might be in your menstrual cycle. Your periods may change in frequency, length and/or symptoms. You might experience heavier periods with clotting. You may also notice spotting between periods or after having sex. Periods that came like clockwork might now be irregular, coming closer together, skipping or lasting several days longer than in the past.

For the most part, these changes are normal and nothing to worry about. However, if you experience severe menstrual bleeding, cramping or other pelvic pain it could be a cause for concern. You may have uterine fibroids, which are common and benign, or some other issue. Be sure to get it checked out.

Expect Hormonal and Bodily Changes

As your body transitions, you will notice other bodily changes. Progesterone, estrogen and other hormones are changing and will be out of balance for a while. Generally, progesterone decreases first, leading to estrogen dominance until it begins to decline as well.

Hormonal fluctuations will result in a number of bodily changes. Weight gain is possible, especially around the hips. Breasts may be tender or start to lose fullness. You may also find that you’re often bloated. Other signs are vaginal dryness, more frequent urination, urine leakage when laughing or sneezing, hot flashes and sleep difficulties. Sex may be painful or your libido may decline.

Expect Mental and Emotional Changes

As your hormones fluctuate during this transition period, you’ll also experience mental and emotional changes. You may notice that you’re not as sharp as you used to be. Brain fog or lack of concentration is to be expected. Emotionally, mood swings are quite common, but so is a steady stream of anxiety, depression, irritability, and anger. Some women feel like they are going crazy or just plain falling apart. And while it’s frustrating and exasperating, it is entirely normal.

Knowing some of the things to expect during perimenopause can help you prepare. As they say, “Forewarned is forearmed.” With this knowledge you can be better informed when talking to your health care provider, taking action and managing the change so you have a smooth transition.

Photo: Pexels

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