The term perimenopause is the period of time in which the female body begins to make its shift into age-related infertility, or menopause. Decreasing estrogen is the most widely common factor that leads to perimenopause. In this transition, women usually begin to experience symptoms in their 40s while some begin as early as their mid-30s. So do you know what are the perimenopause symptoms? Here you will get them.
Some women will only experience a few, if any, perimenopausal symptoms. Other women may experience all of these symptoms - sometimes quite severely - and have a more difficult time transitioning.
1. Weight Gain
Weight gain during perimenopause can often be more a factor of age rather than the menopausal transition itself. Hormonal changes and decrease cause weight to be distributed differently and unevenly making weight sit in your midsection.
2. Irregular Menstrual Cycles
This is one of the most common symptoms of perimenopause. Ovulation becomes unpredictable and women will have months where they do not ovulate at all. Menstrual cycles can become heavier some months and lighter during others, or you may even skip your cycle for a month or two or more.
3. Sore Breasts
Breast pain, or mastalgia, is common during perimenopause. A woman’s body will retain water due to hormone changes in the breast tissue causing them to swell and become tender and sore.
4. Hot Flashes
The unstable hormone levels can make a woman’s body temperature rise unexpectedly, causing hot flashes or night sweats (hot flashes that occur during sleep). They tend to come in waves and can be short lived or provide discomfort for some time. Length, intensity and frequency always vary depending on how far into perimenopause you are and your hormonal levels.
5. Difficulty Sleeping
Perimenopause can cause insomnia. Night sweats cause profuse sweating, often causing you to wake up. Some women may awake to find their sheets soaked, while others may simply need a cold drink or compress for their head.
Environmental and bodily changes seem to be common factors that lead to headaches and migraines. Once again hormonal imbalances or deficiencies of estrogen will cause enough change in bodily function to trigger a neurological alarm that can lead to migraines.
7. Mood Changes
The imbalance and variation of hormonal levels during perimenopause can cause random mood swings, irritability and even depression in some. Sleep disruption brought on night sweats or insomnia are usually attributed to these mood changes as it is difficult for the mind to orient itself properly when lacking sleep.
8. Vaginal Breakdown
When you lose estrogen levels your vaginal tissue loses its elasticity and may not be able to naturally produce lubrication. Intercourse can become painful because of this and you may experience a loss of libido. The low hormone levels and deterioration of vaginal tissues can lead to urinary tract and vaginal infections.
9. Decreased Fertility Levels
Menopause itself is the bodily change that ends fertility in women. Irregular ovulation during perimenopause contributes to decreased fertility. If you still have periods, even if they are not regular, pregnancy is still possible. If you are trying to avoid this then birth control precautions should be taken until you have gone 12 months or more without a period. Once you’ve gone 12 months without a period your body has officially ceased to ovulate.
10. Changes In Sexual Function
Your sexual arousal and desires may change during perimenopause. As vaginal tissue breaks down and women lose their natural lubrication, intercourse can lose its former appeal. For those who maintained healthy and pleasurable sexual lifestyles prior to perimenopause, there should not be drastic changes, although it can happen.
11. Loss of Libido
Stress, the disruption of sleep, loss of the ability to produce adequate vaginal lubrication and emotional feelings brought on by perimenopause can all contribute to a loss of libido. As vaginal tissue decreases sex can be uncomfortable and painful causing women to become closed off to having it.
12. Decrease in Bone Mass
You are likely to lose bone mass more quickly as your estrogen levels fall. Your risk of osteoporosis can increase. Many women in perimenopause take Calcium and Vitamin D supplements to avoid the influence on their bones and bone mass.
13. Fluctuation of Cholesterol Levels
As women experience decreased levels of estrogen during perimenopause their LDL cholesterol levels, which is the “bad” cholesterol, will increase. This can create a risk for heart disease and other heart related complications. HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol, decreases as estrogen decreases which can contribute to issues with heart health as well.
14. Urinary Incontinence
Estrogen plays a part in keeping the bladder healthy. As your levels of estrogen decrease or change the bladder will become less in control and you may experience urine leak or urinary incontinence. This is definitely one of the more embarrassing symptoms of perimenopause, but it is not abnormal.
When to See a Doctor
Most women simply tolerate their perimenopause symptoms or employ home remedies to help alleviate them. The cause for concern, however, is when your symptoms begin to interfere with your daily life. If your hot flashes, mood swings, urinary incontinence, etc. are keeping you from being able to take part in daily tasks, like a job or social gatherings, make plans to see a doctor to discuss your options like hormone replacement therapy, herbal supplements, meditation, lifestyle changes (healthier diets and more exercise), etc.