What is perimenopause and when does it start

Preparing for Perimenopause: When Does It Start? What Does It Feel Like?

Preparing for Perimenopause: When Does It Start? What Does It Feel Like?

Take a look at our quick answers to your questions about perimenopause.

To help inform you about what to expect in perimenopause, the guide below answers common questions like how menopause symptoms can be alleviated, and the question “when does perimenopause start?”

What is perimenopause and what causes it?

Estrogen and progesterone, produced by the ovaries, control menstrual periods and other processes in women’s bodies. As ovaries produce less of these hormones, perimenopause begins.

Perimenopause occurs prior to menopause. After one entire year without a menstrual period, a woman is in menopause. Menopause starts for most women around age 51, but may start as early as age 40, or as late as the late 50s. It rarely starts later than age 60. Menopause before age 40 is premature.

When is menopause completed?

Perimenopause can take from 2-8 years, though it takes 3-5 years for most women. However, hot flashes should decrease with time. It is important to note that even though periods are missed or bleeding is very light, a woman can become pregnant up to the time menopause ends.

How is perimenopause diagnosed?

Your doctor will diagnose perimenopause based on your symptoms. A test for high follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels may be taken to help determine that you are in menopause.

What is perimenopause like?

Many women experience few or no symptoms, while others suffer extreme effects of menopause. Most symptoms, including the following, are due to decreasing estrogen.

  • Irregular periods
  • Hot flashes
  • Mood changes
  • Vaginal inflammation
  • Loss of vaginal elasticity and natural lubrication
  • Decreased fertility
  • Diminished sexual desire
  • Bone loss
  • Increased LDL, decreased HDL cholesterol
  • Sleep problems

What body changes should I expect?

The hormonal changes that cause menopause can also make controlling weight gain harder. You can talk with your doctor about ways to mitigate weight gain and stay healthy. Answering the question “What is perimenopause like for most women?” will elicit a multitude of answers, so be sure to speak with a health professional about your questions.

When should I see a doctor?

  • Periods more frequently than 21 days apart
  • Periods lasting beyond seven days
  • Bleeding between menstrual periods
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Vaginal bleeding after one year from the time of your last period
  • Osteoporosis testing (thinning of bones)
  • Cardiovascular disease testing

What are the risk factors for early menopause?

  • Family history of early menopause
  • Smoking
  • Hysterectomy
  • Cancer treatment (pelvic radiation or chemotherapy)

How can I ease symptoms?

  • Exercise at least 30 minutes daily.
  • Sleep on a routine schedule.
  • Minimize alcohol use.
  • Do stress-lowering activities.
  • Use vaginal moisturizers.
  • Consume high-fiber, low-fat diet.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Reduce caffeine below four cups daily.
  • Layer clothing, remove and replace layers to cool and warm the body.
  • Get several minutes of sunlight daily, or 400–800 IU of Vitamin D daily.
  • Get 800–1500 mg of calcium daily. Discuss supplements with your doctor.
  • Discuss estrogen (with progesterone) therapy with your doctor.

For more information

For additional information, contact The Women’s Clinic in Little Rock. A board certified physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology will provide you with state-of-the-art women’s health care in a private, comfortable environment. If you prefer, ask to schedule with a female doctor to discuss managing menopause. Contact us at (501) 222-4175 to schedule an appointment today.

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