Perimenopause is a crucial phase in an individual’s life, marking the transition to menopause. This article will discuss the unique characteristics of perimenopause, highlighting what you can expect during this transformative period.
What is perimenopause?
Perimenopause is the transitional period leading up to menopause, which is defined as the cessation of menstrual periods for at least 12 consecutive months. Menopause typically begins around ages 45-55 but can vary—with some individuals experiencing menopause before the age of 40 (which is called “premature menopause” or “premature ovarian failure”). During perimenopause, you may experience unpredictable shifts in in your menstrual cycles such as longer or shorter intervals between each period and changes in blood flow.
Common symptoms of perimenopause
Perimenopause is driven by hormonal shifts, particularly a decrease in estrogen levels as the egg supply in the ovaries decline. These changes can have a profound impact on your body and overall well-being.
- Hot Flashes: Hot flashes, characterized by sudden waves of heat and sweating, are a hallmark symptom of perimenopause and can be disruptive of daily life.
- Headaches: You may experience an increase in headaches during perimenopause, which can vary in intensity and frequency.
- Cognitive function: Declining estrogen levels during perimenopause may cause forgetfulness or difficulty recalling words.
- Breast tenderness: As hormones fluctuate during perimenopause, some may notice increased breast tenderness.
- Vaginal Dryness: Decreased estrogen levels can lead to vaginal dryness, causing discomfort and sometimes painful intercourse.
- Mood Disturbances: Hormone fluctuation can bring about mood disturbances, including increased susceptibility to depression and anxiety.
It’s important to recognize that these symptoms are a natural part of the transition to menopause. Everyone will experience them differently so you may experience them in shorter or longer durations.
Perimenopause is a significant phase that marks the journey towards menopause. By understanding the changes that occur in the body and recognizing common symptoms, you can navigate perimenopause with greater awareness and get the support you deserve. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, speak to your OB/GYN or other primary healthcare provider to understand your treatment options.
If you are an eligible Progyny member, contact your Progyny Patient Care Advocate to understand if your employer offers Progyny Menopause and Midlife Care. This program provides nationwide access to specialized virtual care for all stages of menopause. Get the care you deserve, manage your symptoms, and boost overall health.
Still curious? Keep reading to learn about why menopause symptoms vary.