If there is one thing that women dread universally, it is menopause. And while women may dread it universally, they might all have different reasons for dreading it. For some, it signifies the loss of their dewy youth, when anything was possible. For others it is a time that shows their child bearing years are over. And some just dread the physical, emotional and hormonal changes that accompany menopause. Ironically, most of these symptoms are present in the years leading up to menopause as something called perimenopause but because that name is not well known, women do not know enough to dread it. But once you see all the symptoms that are associated with perimenopause, you will begin to adjust your dread to the real culprit in your impending discomfort.
Perimenopause is the miserable time of “the change of life” when you have such an unstable presence of estrogen in your body that you begin to experience the dreaded hot flashes. Hot flashes are sudden flair ups of heat for no environmental reason. They can make you feel as if you are standing in a kitchen with a hot stove and no breeze. These hot flashes are so intense that they can cause sweating, can wake you from a deep sleep and can make it impossible to relax. According to WebMD, as many as 75% of women who go through perimenopause suffer from hot flashes of varying intensity.
Between the fluctuating levels of estrogen in your body during perimenopause, the lack of sleep and the unexpected (and uncontrollable) hot flashes, you are probably going to experience mood swings. Women with a history of depression may experience mood swings that are significant and dangerous enough to warrant medication. Others may just have some irritability.
As you might expect, during perimenopause you will have light menstruation some months and very heavy menstruation during other months. You may even skip cycles or notice many more days in between the monthly cycles. Eventually, as perimenopause ends and menopause begins you will stop having your menstrual cycle altogether.
Treatment of Perimenopause Symptoms
Since perimenopause is a natural and healthy part of life, there is no “cure” but there are some treatment measures that women can use to help ease the affect of the symptoms on their lives. Some women opt for hormone therapy as they are going through perimenopause. The use of progestin during perimenopause can help relieve some of the menstrual cycle problems you might encounter. Other women find that birth control pills offer the same type of relief. Birth control pills have the added benefit of reducing some of the hot flashes as well. It is important to remember that women who take birth control pills are at greater risk of developing blood clots, especially if they smoke.
If you want to avoid medications and hormone therapy or if you want to do a little something extra to help in addition to medication, you might try to beef up your exercise routine. Women who are going through perimenopause have accelerated bone loss and the impact of aerobic activity can help slow down the bone loss. In addition, it can help you sleep better, reduce your irritability and stop you from gaining weight. Increasing your calcium intake will also help with the bone loss and avoiding caffeine can help reduce your hot flashes while helping you get a good night’s rest.
Make sure you talk to your doctor if you start to notice the symptoms of perimenopause. While it is a natural occurrence that every woman will experience, it is still a life stage that deserves monitoring and may require special supplements.