Menopause is one of the most significant physical and emotional milestones in a woman’s life, but what is it, exactly?
Many people think of menopause as a years-long time of hormone fluctuations, irregular periods and related symptoms, such as hot flashes, but that actually describes perimenopause, which is the extended run-up to menopause. Menopause is the one-year anniversary of your last period. Once you reach menopause, you can’t get pregnant, and your body produces far fewer of the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Given that many people confuse menopause with perimenopause, it’s worthwhile to take a closer look at the latter. Perimenopause is:
- You can’t know precisely when the transition to menopause will start or how long it will last. For most women, perimenopause starts in their mid- to late 40s and lasts an average of four years, according to the Department of Health & Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health.
- Highly variable.Every woman’s experience with perimenopause is different. Erratic, lighter or heavier periods, hot flashes, changes in mood, difficulty sleeping, and vaginal dryness are common symptoms, but women experience them to varying degrees. Some women may not experience certain perimenopause symptoms at all.
- Symptoms of perimenopause can be disruptive and uncomfortable, but various treatments can help you cope. Low-dose hormonal birth control can help relieve several symptoms, including hot flashes and mood swings. Menopausal hormone therapy can treat symptoms after menopause, but it’s important to weigh the potential risks and benefits with your primary care provider.
- A call to be more health-conscious. After menopause, your risks for osteoporosis, stroke, coronary artery disease and other conditions increase, so use perimenopause as a time to commit to healthy behaviors, such as exercising and following a balanced, nutritious diet.
In addition to urgent and family care, our centers offer women’s health services that include a variety of tests and screenings to keep women as healthy as possible. For more information, visit: https://www.urgentteam.com/service/womens-health/.