The menopausal transition is a very confusing time for women. Did you know that the time most women experience their harshest symptoms is not during menopause, but actually during perimenopause?
What is perimenopause, you ask? Perimenopause is the real menopause transition. It's the time when your body changes from having normal menstruation and hormone levels to the cessation of menstruation, or menopause. This time generally lasts about four years, but is contingent upon the individual woman's hormones. Actually, there are four recognized phases of menopause and you can continue reading to learn more.
What Is Premenopause?
This is the time leading up to your last periods and prior to when hormone levels begin to fluctuate. Few people are able to succinctly describe the difference between premenopause and perimenopause.
What to Expect during Perimenopause?
This is the part of the transition when you notice changes in your body. Hot flashes, weight gain around the mid section, and mood swings all begin to occur. Irregular periods are a sign that your estrogen and progesterone levels are fluctuating. Essentially, the unpredictability of your estrogen is the cause of all of this madness, and the key to minimizing symptoms is to find hormonal balance.
What about Menopause?
Congratulations! Entering menopause means you have been menses free for one continuous year. You are also no longer able to become pregnant. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, thinning hair, weight gain, loss of libido, depression, incontinence, brittle nails, burning tongue, and itchy skin. If you experience abnormal hair growth or a lowered voice, ask your doctor about testosterone imbalance.
Postmenopause, a new beginning
It doesn't necessarily mean you can expect your symptoms to vanish into thin air; hormonal imbalances will be a very real part of your life for a long while. Some women in their 70s report still suffering from symptoms. Alternatively, some women never experience any at all. Another testament to the fact we are all different and should not compare experiences, especially with something as personal as menopause.
If you are nearing the age of menopause or are currently experiencing symptoms, it is time to have a conversation with your doctor. There are varying treatment options, but the least invasive and cheapest route is to lead a healthy lifestyle with smart diet choices and regular exercise. On the market you can find herbal remedies and other alternative treatments like acupuncture. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) involves many risks, but may be the best option for you. To find out more about the treatments available for menopausal symptoms, follow this link.
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