An Overview of the Symptoms of Perimenopause

The stage of life between a young woman’s fertility, and the menopause of a woman’s later years is called perimenopause. Perimenopause begins in a woman’s late 30s to early 40s and can last 3-15 years.  According to Drs. Fox, Greebon, Monier and Eisenberg that make up the Plano, Frisco and Dallas, Texas area office of Women’s Specialists of Plano, “This number is different for every woman, but one fact that remains the same is that during this phase, undesirable effects will take place to a woman’s body.” Many women find comfort in visiting a physician to address the many unwanted symptoms of perimenopause, including abnormal pre-menopausal bleeding.

When Pre-Menopausal Bleeding Starts to Occur

Perimenopause is onset by the fluctuations of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. These normal hormone changes are the result of the ongoing decrease of eggs inside a woman’s ovaries.  As these eggs decrease, there is no more cyclic estrogen and progesterone production. The symptoms a woman will experience during due to these biological changes most often reflect perimenopause. The most obvious sign that a woman may be in perimenopause is the change in her menstrual cycles. It is important to highlight what a normal period looks like for most women:

  • The start of one period to the start of the next should be at least 21 days
  • Periods should last less than 10 days
  • There is no spotting in between periods
  • Periods should be no further apart than 90 days

Because all women’s cycles are unique, pre-menopausal bleeding changes will be unique to each woman. Some women notice a very heavy period one-month, followed by the absence of a period the next month. Others may experience more frequent periods that appear less than the average 28-32 days apart. Some woman may only spot during their period for several months, while others notice heavier bleeding throughout. Only you will know if your cycle has changed. The sporadic distribution of estrogen and progesterone is to blame for menopausal bleeding changes and is inevitable.

The natural hormonal imbalance that takes place inside of a woman’s body may cause other undesirable symptoms. Some of the symptoms of perimenopause include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Sleep problems (which affects 75% of all perimenopausal women)
  • Mood changes
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Bladder problems
  • Decreased fertility
  • Increase in bad cholesterol
  • Loss of bone mass
  • Weight gain

Other common symptoms of perimenopause include bouts of depression. It is also very common for a woman in these years to suffer from a loss in libido and decreased sexual arousal.

The Transition from Perimenopause to Menopause

Every woman is born with a certain amount of eggs. She will not produce anymore throughout her life. As a woman ages, so do the ovaries which is where the eggs reside. During pre-menopause the fluctuation of hormones within a woman’s body begin to make it difficult for the eggs to reach the point of ovulation, causing the above mentioned symptoms for a perimenopausal woman. As it becomes increasingly difficult for an egg to reach ovulation, ovulation begins to cease. After an egg is no longer able to reach ovulation at all, ovulation ceases completely and so does a woman’s cycle. It is at this time that a woman’s transition from perimenopause to menopause is complete.

It is important to remember that perimenopause is the stage before menopause and does not mean that you have crossed over the bridge. A woman in perimenopause has a decreased likelihood of getting pregnant, but it is still possible. A woman is not considered menopausal until she has been without a cycle for a full 12 months. If you are perimenopausal and aspire to have a child, talk to your doctor about your options.

Perimenopause shows itself differently in every woman. Some may find it alarmingly obvious that their body is changing, while others may soar through perimenopause into menopause without ever noticing a single hot flash. However it is important to note that if you are noticing that the symptoms of perimenopause are beginning to affect parts of your daily life you need to speak with your doctor. He or she will discuss your options with you and help you to find comfort during this transition.

There are several approaches to easing the transition from perimenopause to menopause; only your doctor will be able to decide what option is best for you. Some methods that women have found helpful to help minimize the symptoms of perimenopause include:

  • Low dose birth control, for the relief of hot flashes and the changes associated with menopausal bleeding.
  • Exercise, which is good for your health and known to help a woman receive better rest.
  • Vaginal lubricants and sex therapy, to help recover the loss of libido.
  • A diet full of calcium, to help protect against the loss of bone mass.
  • Anti-depressants, to help control the mood swings and bouts of depression.

Women’s Specialists of Plano includes Dr. Murray Fox, Dr. Daryl Greebon, Dr. Jules Monier, and Dr. Dennis Eisenberg.  They offer adolescent gynecology, obstetrics and treat women even past the menopausal years. As a woman’s body goes through the myriad of changes from teenage to menopause, it’s important to have a trusted resource to answer questions and receive regular well checks. Perimenopause, while it can be a troublesome condition for many women, is treatable on some levels.

To learn more about the common symptoms of perimenopause, or for additional resources on pre-menopausal bleeding, please contact the Plano, Frisco and Dallas, Texas office of Women’s Specialists of Plano.