You’re boiling hot, you’re cold. You’re crabby, you’re crying. You’re gassy, you’re constipated. Some days, you feel as if you can’t remember your own name.
Could all these symptoms mean you’re entering menopause? Entering menopause can be a rocky road (now we’re in the mood for ice cream and oh yes, there’s the weight gain…) for many women, and some breeze right through with little trouble at all.
The changes that lead to menopause do not happen overnight; they usually happen gradually as your ovaries become less responsive and finally cease estrogen production. Because your ovaries do this in fits and starts, estrogen levels start to fluctuate in the years before menopause and often, so will your menstrual cycle. This time is known as perimenopause or pre-menopause.
It is impossible to pinpoint exactly when perimenopause starts or when yours in particular has begun. Generally, estrogen production begins to decline in the mid to late forties for most women.
During perimenopause, you may experience:
- Erratic Menstrual Cycles: With less progesterone to regulate the endometrium's growth, the uterine lining may become thicker before it is shed, resulting in very heavy periods. Fibroids, benign tumors of the uterine wall, and endometriosis, the migration of endometrial tissue to other pelvic structures, are both fueled by estrogen and may become more troublesome. Irregular periods can occur as well.
- Hot Flashes and Night Sweats: According to Harvard Health, an estimated 35%–50% of perimenopausal women suffer sudden and often overwhelming waves of body heat, sweating and flushing that can last 5–10 minutes. These can occur at night as well as during the day. They typically begin in the scalp, face, neck, or chest. Each woman has different experiences; some women feel only slightly warm, while others end up wringing wet and bright red.
- Sleep Problems: About 40% of perimenopausal women have sleep problems. Insomnia, night waking, sleep apnea, and the inability to fall back to sleep after waking can be caused by hot flashes or the loss of estrogen and progesterone.
- Mood Changes, including depression and anxiety: About 10%-20% of women experience mood changes during perimenopause. Declining levels of estrogen and progesterone can influence serotonin production in your body and can make you anxious, chronically irritable and at greater risk for major clinical depression.
- Vaginal Dryness - During late perimenopause, falling estrogen levels can cause vaginal tissue to become thinner and drier. Vaginal dryness, which usually becomes even worse after menopause can cause itching, irritation and vaginal atrophy, leading to painful intercourse.
When you are in your 40’s and begin feeling like your body, your moods and your sex life have taken a dramatic turn for the worse, it could be perimenopause. You are considered officially in menopause when you’ve missed your period for 12 months.
Menopause symptoms do not have to be something you just “get through.” Her Wellness is here to help with reliable and trusted hormone therapy, holistic herbal and non-hormonal remedies, Votiva therapy to relieve dryness, atrophy and pain, and other interventions that can help ease symptoms.
There is no reason to suffer. If you have questions about menopause, please call us at 203-409-2539 or click here and click “Book Online” to schedule an appointment. Dr. Garritano and Christina are here to help.