Understanding Menopause: Is It Different From Perimenopause?
In the beginning we await in anticipation or, sometimes dread; the onset of “womanhood”. Aunt flow, the period monster, all the terms. In our later years, we experience “the change”. I like to call these our wise woman years. Perimenopause and menopause may be the end of the second cycle of life; and it is also the beginning of another. It’s important to recognize, and quite frankly, celebrate this transition. This rite of passage into your wiser womanly years.
What is perimenopause and menopause?
Perimenopause is the time when hormonal changes occur in your body. Beginning in your late 30’s, 40’s and early 50’s, a disruption in your menstrual cycle may occur many times before menopause. If you are currently experiencing symptoms such as irregular periods, heavy bleeding, hot flashes, sleep disruption, headaches, dry eyes, hair loss, and weight gain, or extreme emotional distress, you can be assured that these are all common signs of perimenopause. The hormonal changes which occur during perimenopause are responsible for many of these symptoms. Many women think that it’s the constant decline in hormones, but in fact, it’s the constant fluctuation that creates the symptoms. Perimenopause is not a slow steady decrease in hormones. It’s a hormonal rollercoaster with many ups and down. For some, most of the symptoms only last for a few months. For others, no symptoms occur. Generally, however, many women feel uneasy (or more than uneasy- ladies I’ve heard it all from completely unravelled to contributing to global warming) during this time; hot flashes, palpitations, fatigue, mood swings and depression are among the many signs accompanying perimenopause.
Perimenopause does not often segue into menopause right away. Depending upon the woman, it could take months to years before menopause occurs. However, the symptoms are influenced by lifestyle. Have you been engaged in a proper diet and exercise regimen? Has stress been a major factor in your life? Do you drink or smoke in excess? Any of these factors can play an important part on the type of symptoms and their severity. Now would be a good time to start to track triggers for things like hot flashes (I hate to say it, but wine, lovely wine, is a big trigger).
After a period of time, you will eventually hit menopause (whew!).
What is menopause?
It is that point in time, without having had a menstrual period for one year, you are considered to be in the menopause cycle. While the average ages is considered to be around 52; menopause can occur at any time between 30 and 60 years of age.
The symptoms accompanying menopause can also be all over the map. Some women experience no symptoms, while others are plagued (still, from perimenopause into menopause) with hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, spotting, and the full range of mood swings which invariably occur. The difference between perimenopause and menopause is really that menopause has no period. (Which, at least, is kind of nice!)
Like any life transition, the road can be bumpy. Along the way, gather your team of people to help you through. You don’t have to suffer through symptoms either. There are plenty of options from Hormone Therapy to Herbals to Acupuncture.
If you want to know more, feel free to book in or schedule a discovery call with me. Happy to support you, and celebrate you, through this transition.