Many women may confuse menopause and perimenopause because they are so closely related.
So, what is menopause? Menopause is the medical term that designates the end of childbearing years. This is a normal part of a woman’s age and development. A woman is in menopause once she has ceased to have a menstrual cycle, a period, for twelve consecutive months.
Women that have radiation, chemotherapy or surgery to the ovaries or uterus may go into medically-induced menopause because of these procedures.
Menopause occurs as a result of changes in a woman’s body to produce female hormones, estrogens and progesterone.
The amount of estrogens and progesterone decrease causing a reduction in monthly ovulation and shedding of the lining which normally produces a woman’s monthly period.
Perimenopause, or menopausal transition, is the hormonal and emotional process that leads up to menopause. Menopause is the same for every woman. It occurs after 12 consecutive months of not having a period.
Perimenopause is different for every woman. It happens because of the hormonal changes that occur as women age.
The changes in estrogens and progesterone cause changes to the ovaries, uterus and vagina. These hormones can also cause changes in breast tissue, bone density, or emotions.
Some symptoms that a woman might experience are irregular periods, hot flashes, insomnia, headaches, heart palpitations. She may experience increased bladder infections, memory problems, changes in body composition, changes in sexual arousal or vaginal dryness.
Perimenopause can start as early as the thirties for some women, or as late as the fifties as for others. Genetics and overall health play a role in the severity of symptoms.
It is important to note that some women do not have symptoms that require any medical intervention while others report symptoms so severe they interrupt their daily life.
If you are experiencing symptoms that require intervention, consider lifestyle changes like creating a healthy weight, exercise or eating a healthy diet because they can positively impact symptoms.