What to expect during Perimenopause

By Carolina Boyd

Women know that at some point in their lives their menstrual periods will come to an end. This is known as menopause and it marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. However, there is another transitional time—leading up to menopause—called perimenopause that will bring rapid changes to their bodies.

On average, perimenopause starts in the mid-to-late 40s.  For most women, it usually lasts three to four years but for some it can be as short as a few months to as long as a decade. Perimenopause ends when a woman has gone 12 months without having a menstrual period.

During perimenopause, the female hormone estrogen rises and falls. This bring about many changes to a woman’s body. Common symptoms include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Irregular periods
  • Mood swings
  • Brain fog
  • Lower sex drive
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weight gain

Often your doctor or gynecologist can diagnose perimenopause based on your symptoms. A blood test to check hormone levels can help. Several treatments have been studied for use in managing the symptoms of perimenopause. Low dose contraceptives can help with irregular periods, heavy bleeding and hormonal fluctuations. Ironically, despite a drop in fertility during perimenopause, you can still become pregnant. To avoid pregnancy it is important to use some form of birth control until menopause is officially reached.

Women with severe hot flashes can get some relief from drug therapies, including antidepressants or anti-seizure medications like gabapentin (Neurontin). Lifestyle changes such as eating healthy, regular exercise and getting enough sleep can also relieve perimenopause symptoms and promote better health as a woman ages.

If you are dealing with any perimenopause issues or symptoms, talk to your Legacy primary care or OB/GYN doctor about your concerns. Call 832-548-5000 to schedule an appointment.

Image by Ingela Skullman via Pixabay