MENOPAUSE AND PERIMENOPAUSE
Menopause marks the end of a woman’s regular menstrual cycle. In most women, menopause starts around 45 to 55 years. At menopause, the level of the female hormones drops too low levels and this signifies the end of reproduction in women.
Perimenopause, on the other hand, refers to the phase just before the beginning of menopause.
Perimenopause is a phase in a woman’s life which marks the gradual transition to menopause.
This phase can usually begin around the mid-40s, eight to 10 years before the start of menopause.
Menopause and perimenopause both have similar symptoms that can affect the general health of women affected. Symptoms of menopause and perimenopause include irregular periods, regular mood swings, hot flashes, and trouble sleeping.
When do menopause and perimenopause start?
The NHS describes normal menopause as a phase when female hormone levels fall drastically which usually occurs between ages 45 and 55. Menopause in older women is confirmed on the day when they complete 12 consecutive months, a full year without seeing their period.
Menopause can also start earlier in younger persons when these hormones reduce even before they grow old. This type of menopause is known as early or premature menopause. Some factors that can cause premature menopause include:
● Surgeries – Such as oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries), and hysterectomy (removal of the uterus)
● Autoimmune diseases (such as Lupus) – These diseases can cause premature ovarian failure in young women.
● Hormonal imbalance.
● Radiation therapy
On the other hand, perimenopause is that phase when female hormones are still dropping but are not as low as in menopause. Perimenopause can start as early as 10 years before menopause starts, and continue till the start of menopause.
Symptoms of Menopause and Perimenopause
The symptoms of menopause and perimenopause are similar in most people and usually uncomfortable. A decline in estrogen and a rise in FSH due to aging, and other conditions are the main causes of these symptoms seen in menopause and perimenopause.
Menopausal can have a huge impact on a woman's personal life, work, social life, and relationship with people around them, including their families.
Perimenopause symptoms can start as early as 10 years before menopause. As estrogen declines in perimenopause, it can result in hormonal imbalances that can affect the production of progesterone. These fluctuations can continue for a few months or years until menopause.
Common symptoms at perimenopause and menopause include:
● Irregular menstrual cycles – Irregular cycles are usually one of the earliest signs of perimenopause. Hormonal fluctuations cause periods to become irregular and unpredictable during perimenopause
● Heavy periods – In perimenopause, when the periods appear, they can be heavier than normal.
● Vaginal dryness – The decline in female hormones can cause a loss of normal vaginal lubrication. Vaginal dryness can make sex to be painful.
● Loss of libido – As sex becomes more uncomfortable due to vaginal dryness, it is common to see a loss of libido during menopause.
● Hot flushes – The skin can feel warm all of a sudden and spread across the body. Hot flushes occur very commonly during perimenopause and menopause.
● Problems with sleep – Night sweats can become more common which can make sleeping uncomfortable.
● Mood swings and irritability
● Increased occurrence of headaches and migraines.
● Frequent urinary tract infections.
It is important to be able to differentiate normal menopausal symptoms from disorders. Bleeding
that becomes too heavy can be a sign of infections, fibroids, endometriosis, and even hormonal
Screening for Menopause and Perimenopause
Screening at perimenopause is essential to make sure the symptoms experienced are truly caused by perimenopause and not another condition. It is not absolutely necessary to see a doctor to diagnose yourself with perimenopause and menopause. Once you notice the symptoms, you can visit any of our Oxyzhealth centers around you to see a health professional.
Certain symptoms can warrant you to check with your healthcare provider sooner. These
symptoms can indicate irregularities in normal perimenopause, such as bleeding during sex,
vaginal spotting, and psychological changes that can affect daily living.
If any of these symptoms become more concerning, it can become important to consult with your doctor to recommend hormone tests. Hormone tests can detect the level of FSH, thyroid hormones, and estrogen to check for hormone imbalance
● Over-the-counter test kits for FSH are available for use at home. These test kits can check for increased FSH levels seen in menopause or perimenopause.
● Thyroid function tests can also be recommended to monitor the level of thyroid hormones.
Screening tests are also commonly recommended when perimenopause symptoms appear in younger persons. These tests can help determine the root cause (in case it is hormone imbalance or another condition such as endometriosis) and plan treatment.
Treatment of Menopause and Perimenopause
Menopause is normal and usually does not require any form of treatment. Treatment of menopause is focused on alleviating symptoms and preventing conditions from affecting daily living.
The National Institute of Health emphasises the need to manage perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms by trying to use a single plan to treat multiple symptoms. Treatment options include medications, lifestyle changes and home remedies to readjust to changes at menopause.
● Hormone Replacement Therapy – Estrogen replacement therapy is recommended to treat symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes. Estrogen therapy should be carefully monitored by your doctor to prevent side effects.
● Vaginal Estrogen – Vaginal estrogen is available as tablets and topical creams to relieve vaginal dryness.
● Antidepressants – Antidepressants, especially SSRIs can also be administered to treat mood changes and depression caused by menopause.
● Vitamin supplements – Vitamin D supplements can be given to treat osteoporosis (weak bones) caused by menopause. Vitamin drips are also available at Oxyzhealth to treat menopause.
● Stem Cell Programs – Stem Cell Program is available at Oxyzhealth to improve the symptoms of menopause.
● Clonidine patches – Clonidine patches are also recommended to provide relief from hot flushes.
● Improved sleep – Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and other things that make sleep hard is essential to improve rest.
● Readjustment to diet to include more fruits and vegetables.
The treatment of perimenopause symptoms is almost the same as menopause. Treatment is directed at relieving symptoms and preventing early menopause.
Menopause and perimenopause can cause unexpected changes in a person’s life. These changes start appearing in perimenopause and cause various levels of discomfort.
Management of menopause symptoms is essential to living a healthy, happy life. If these symptoms are affecting you greatly, and you need a proper management plan, you can contact us at Oxyzhealth to get started