Perimenopause is the transitional phase around menopause. During perimenopause, levels of the key female hormone – oestrogen, starts to decrease. The body reduces the production of the hormones that control the menses. Due to this, a woman may begin having menopause-like symptoms, such as irregular periods or hot flush, sleep disturbance, and vaginal dryness. This phase can last for years. Therefore, if a woman misses her period for one year or more, then it indicates menopause. This marks the end of the reproductive years. Most commonly, women experience the perimenopause phase during the age group of 45-55 years, some women may experience these changes as early as in their forties or even in their mid-thirties.
During perimenopause, the menstrual cycles may get extended or shortened. They are Anovulatory (ovaries don’t release an egg). As this transition phase causes a lot of changes in hormones, she may experience both mental and physical health issues. Menopause could be easy for some and tougher for others. Hence, awareness about it is necessary. Following are some signs of perimenopause that each woman should observe carefully.
The Channel 46 collaborated with Dr Sonal Kumta, Senior Consultant-Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Fortis Hospital, to discuss the early signs of perimenopause.
1. Irregular Periods
This is the most common symptom indicating your journey towards menopause. The frequency of periods may change. It can occur more or less often. They could be light or very heavy, and last longer or shorter, or you may skip your period too.
2. Hot Flushes
Hot flush is the sudden feeling of intense heat, all over the body. This leads to intense sweating or perspiration. Having a sudden sweating and red face while seated in a meeting or with friends in a public setting can be very embarrassing for women. Hot flushes are usually common during perimenopause. However, the frequency, length, and intensity, will vary for each woman. If this hot flush occurs at night, it is called a ‘night sweat’.
3. Vaginal Dryness
As the body begins to produce less oestrogen, the tissue around the vagina may become thinner and drier. This can lead to itchiness and soreness, and lead to pain during sex. The loss of lubrication and elasticity will make intercourse painful. However, having regular sex can help keep that tissue toned and healthy. When oestrogen levels diminish, it can also cause urinary or vaginal infections and may contribute to urinary incontinence.
4. Changes In Sexual Function
The drop in the hormone level leads to some unpleasant changes to the vagina, making it difficult for women to indulge in sexual activity. During perimenopause, sexual desire and arousal may decrease. Some women may lose interest in sex or face difficulty in arousal throughout menopause. However, some women might enjoy sex more and feel more liberated as they will not have to worry about getting pregnant.
5. Loss Of Bone
Perimenopause causes a drop in the levels of oestrogen that leads to speeding-up of the bone loss process. After the age of 35 years, the health of the bones starts degenerating, causing overall bone loss. However, menopause will aggravate this condition, leading to development of Osteoporosis in some women.
With growing age, both men and women might experience a small incidence of memory lapses. Changes in the hormonal level, along with other symptoms of perimenopause, may make it a little harder to remember things. You might often lose track of your things like keys, and appointments, or even have trouble focusing. It probably will get better once you are past menopause.
7. Sleep Problems
The hormonal changes will make your sleep pattern unpredictable and can create havoc. This might maybe be directly or indirectly related to other symptoms associated with menopause. You can either not fall asleep, or you will have to wake up several times during the night. Perimenopause will often lead to hot flush or night sweats, which will aggravate sleep problems.
8. Mood Changes
Change in sleep pattern, sexual activity, and hormone levels along with other factors like hot flushes can lead to mood swings, irritability, or increased risk of depression during perimenopause. In some cases, mood changes may not be related to hormonal changes. If one has been showing signs of mental conditions like anxiety or depression prior to perimenopause, symptoms may intensify throughout menopause. Also, women who have severe PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) may have more serious mood changes during perimenopause.
Therefore, it’s important for every woman to look for such symptoms as there isn’t any treatment to stop perimenopause. Perimenopause is a natural phase of life, but your healthcare provider may recommend certain medications or treatments to help ease symptoms to make your perimenopause transition phase smooth.
Open up like never before and participate in conversations about beauty, entrepreneurship, mental health, menstrual & sexual health, and more. Desi women, join our community NOW!