Hormones and Perimenopause

Healthy Aging, Healthy Living
on August 19, 2011
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Perimenopause is referred to as menopausal transition and is the stage prior to official menopause. The Mayo Clinic explains, “As you go through the menopausal transition, your body's production of estrogen and progesterone fluctuates. These hormonal fluctuations are at the root of the changes your body goes through during perimenopause.” Such changes occur naturally as you near the end of your reproductive years. This will be accompanied by a gradual decrease and then cessation of your menstrual cycle (though a few women do experience an immediate stop in their period or even have increased flow), as well as a host of symptoms that may range from mild to severe.

Hormone change symptoms. Some of the most common perimenopause symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and changes in sexual desire. This may be accompanied by decreased vaginal secretion, decreased bladder control, lowered bone density and cholesterol changes that may affect heart health. About a year after your period has ceased, you will no longer be able to become pregnant.

Symptom duration. For many women, the symptoms associated with perimenopause will continue for several years. Nearly all women will experience the various symptoms for at least a year, though perimenopause induced by surgery (such as ovary removal) may not last as long.

Management for hormone changes. The treatment options available to you will vary according to symptom severity and any other medical challenges that you might have. Some women have very mild symptoms that they don’t feel warrant more management than wearing a few layers of clothing or engaging in relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation. Others may have very severe symptoms that require medication or, in some cases, hormone therapy to make the changes a little more gradual and easy to manage. The level of treatment that is right for you will depend very much on how much the symptoms bother you and how much they interfere with daily life. If you’re unable to go to work some days or your family places armed guards around the thermostat control, then it may be time to discuss management options with your doctor.