You’ve always had a healthy diet and exercised regularly. So you expect to maintain the vibrant health you once had in your 20s.
But now you’re in your mid-30s, and things are changing. You feel like your body is out of whack all the time, and your romantic life in bed is not as pleasurable as it was.
The truth is, the mid-30s is a critical time when your body undergoes an array of natural changes, with your hormones being the main factors. This point is when perimenopause happens. What is it? And how to tell the signs perimenopause is ending?
Transition to Menopause – Signs Perimenopause Is Ending
What Is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause is when your hormone levels start to drop, making it the natural transition to menopause. When you have entered menopause, your hormone levels are about one-half (or even lower) of your youthful levels. But this decline doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, the dip occurs slowly within several years.
During this transition, your ovaries begin making less estrogen, causing your female characteristics, like your menstrual cycle, to be unpredictable. Because estrogen is vital in stimulating the ovaries to release the eggs, less estrogen means fertility declines. So, you’re approaching the end of your reproductive years as you progress during perimenopause.
When Does Perimenopause Start?
Perimenopause happens in every woman. However, the time when you go through it may differ from others. Some go through this stage in their mid-30s, while others don’t feel any difference until their 50s. Perimenopause is unpredictable.
The most common age when perimenopause begins is about ten years before you reach menopause. And because most women become menopausal from 45 to 55, it makes sense that you’re likely to enter perimenopause from 35 to 45.
Early menopause is never a good sign. The earlier you have your last menstrual cycle, the sooner you experience the detrimental effects due to low hormones, such as bone loss or vasomotor symptoms. But the bigger problem is perimenopause can also occur earlier in your life. Some factors that may accelerate it include:
- Family history
- Cancer treatment
Symptoms of Perimenopause
It can be difficult to tell whether your symptoms are due to hormones and perimenopause or general changes common in a person’s midlife.
The following symptoms are based on hormonal fluctuations alone.
- Irregular periods. The interval between periods may be longer or shorter, your flow may be lighter or heavier, and you may skip some periods as ovulation becomes more unpredictable.
- Vaginal dryness. Falling estrogen levels during late perimenopause may result in thinner and drier vaginal tissue. Vaginal dryness can itch and irritate you and usually worsens after menopause.
- Hot flashes. A third to half of perimenopausal women experience sudden waves of body heat and sweating that last for five to ten minutes. After menopause, hot flashes last for another year or two.
- Sleep disturbances. Sleep issues affect about 40% of perimenopausal women. Hot flashes and night sweats are widely believed to play a role in causing sleeping troubles, among other hormone-related causes.
- Uterine bleeding problems. Heavy periods may result from the uterine lining becoming thicker before it sheds because there is less hormone to control endometrium growth.
- Mood symptoms. The percentage of women who experience mood symptoms during perimenopause is between 10% and 20%. However, hormone changes don’t directly cause women to experience chronic anxiety.
- Changes in sexual function. Sexual arousal and desire may change during perimenopause. The most common reason is pain during sexual activities due to vaginal dryness.
- Decreasing fertility. Your chance of getting pregnant decreases as ovulation becomes erratic. However, pregnancy is still possible as long as you get your period.
- Bone loss. Your risk of developing osteoporosis rises as your estrogen levels decline because you lose bone more quickly than you can replace it.
- Cognitive problems. During the menopausal transition, many women have trouble concentrating and have shorter memory. It is because brain cell growth and functionality changes have been linked to estrogen fluctuations.
How Long Does Perimenopause Last?
Perimenopause can last up to 10 years until you reach menopause. However, this process can be shorter in some women, with some experiencing only two years of perimenopause. Diets and lifestyle choices are the primary factors that affect the duration.
Of course, you don’t want your hormones to decline continuously for too long. The longer the fluctuations persist, the more severe the symptoms can be. So in healthy women, perimenopause should only last an average of 4 years.
Signs Perimenopause is Ending
You are no longer in perimenopause if it has been more than a year since your last period, making it the end of your fertility. It is because your body has stopped producing eggs, which ends your menstrual cycle entirely and results in a significant drop in estrogen.
So if you haven’t had a period for a while and started to experience more severe and frequent symptoms of perimenopause, you’re getting closer to the end of perimenopause and the beginning of menopause.
However, taking a contraceptive pill can make reading the late stages of perimenopause challenging because they can affect your periods differently.
What to Do About Perimenopause
Understanding the Root Cause
To determine the strategy to eliminate a problem, you need to understand its root cause. So, perimenopause is a natural process, but it doesn’t mean you can do nothing to avoid the annoying menopause symptoms.
Because fluctuating hormones are the primary cause of perimenopause symptoms, you can get away from it by maintaining an optimized level of hormones throughout the whole process. A treatment that corrects your hormones can do just that.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment that aims to optimize women’s hormone levels before, during, and after menopause. People say this therapy is only for menopausal women, but this is not true. Instead, there is a plethora of evidence proving that hormone therapy is more effective if implemented within ten years before menopause.
In contrast, the longer you have been in menopause, the less efficacy you can get from the therapy. Also, the treatment’s possible complications and side effects become more prevalent in those who hesitate to take hormones and only do so when it’s too late.
The Sooner, the Better
The difference in the treatment’s outcome is due to the existing hormone levels of women by the time they initiate it. If your hormone levels are only about to decline, bringing them back to normal is easier. However, if your estrogen has gone down to the deepest point, it’s much more difficult, if not impossible, to normalize it again.
So, please don’t wait until you notice the signs perimenopause is ending before you do something about it. Instead, start as soon as you feel the first differences in your body. The earlier you start, the better results you’ll get, and the sooner you regain your health.
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