A hot topic for women!
For women, perimenopause begins when your body makes a natural transition to menopause. Although this change will bring an end to the baby-making years, it is not something to fear, but to embark upon as a new and exciting life chapter.
It is important to learn any risk factors or symptoms that may affect you during this time. Some women may experience more symptoms than others, but with the help of your ob-gyn, simple lifestyle changes including diet, exercise, treatment or therapy options, you will be prepared for the next phase.
Many women are hesitant to talk to their doctor about irregular periods, hot flashes or mood swings. But at BlueRidge OB-GYN a Duke Health practice, we are here to answer your questions, listen to your concerns and help guide this journey with you.
When does it start?
The age is different for each woman. An overview from the Mayo Clinic suggests you may notice changes towards menopause, such as an irregular period, sometime in your 40s.
But you may notice changes as early as the mid-30s. This is the time when the ovaries make less estrogen. The Cleveland Clinic notes that premature menopause happens to about 1% of women under age 40, while early menopause, occurring in women under age 45, is seen in about 5%.
The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) notes that the transition may last four to eight years. NAMS also notes that it begins with changes in the length of time between periods and ends 1 year after the final menstrual period.
What are the risk factors?
The Mayo Clinic outlines that menopause is a normal phase of life, but it may occur earlier in some women than others. Although not always conclusive, some evidence suggests that certain factors may make it more likely that you start at an earlier age, including:
- Smoking — the onset may occur one to two years earlier in women who smoke vs. women who don’t smoke.
- Family history — Women with a family history of early menopause may experience this themselves.
- Cancer treatment — Treatment for cancer with chemo or pelvic radiation therapy has been linked to early menopause.
- Hysterectomy — A hysterectomy that removes your uterus, but not your ovaries, usually doesn’t cause menopause. Although you no longer have periods, your ovaries still produce estrogen. But such surgery may cause menopause to occur earlier than average.
What are the symptoms?
Each woman’s experience is different. Symptoms vary from woman to woman, with some having no physical changes except irregular periods. Others may have hot flashes or sleep problems, changes in mood, vaginal and bladder problems, changes in sexual function and loss of bone.
How to make it positive?
NAMS also notes that a positive outlook is key during this time. Although your body may be experiencing changes you can help take control by:
- Watch your thoughts — Start an appreciation journal to help keep positive thoughts during this time.
- Laughter — Not only is it good for the soul but brings us closer, become more positive, helps the immune system and cope with stress.
- Make time for yourself — this is hard to do for most of us, but it’s vital to make it a priority by exercising, eating right and taking time for yourself.
- Stay connected — Social support is key to health and can help you live longer.
- Stay in the moment — Be aware and present each day – to prevent worrying about the future.
As you embark on this new chapter, remember you’re ready to take charge to ensure this journey is yours to own.
The information on this site is intended to raise awareness, and understanding of specific health issues. It should not be used for diagnosis, or a substitute for health care by your physician.