You know you are beginning to approach menopause when you begin to experience several key symptoms. These symptoms are your best evidence that you are beginning the transition out of your reproductive years and that you have entered perimenopause.
Subjects covered in this book:
- What is menopause?
- What is Peri-Menopause?
- Get past Peri-Menopause
- 34 Menopause Symptoms
- Treatment of Menopause
- Hot flushes, night sweats, Irregular Periods, Low Libido, Hair Loss
1. What is Menopause?
Menopause is a normal, natural event—defined as the final menstrual period and usually confirmed when a woman has missed her periods for 12 consecutive months (in the absence of other obvious causes).
Menopause is associated with reduced functioning of the ovaries due to aging, resulting in lower levels of estrogen and other hormones. It marks the permanent end of fertility. Menopause occurs, on average, at age 51. The years between puberty (when periods start) and menopause are called pre- menopause.
Physical signs of menopause begin many years before the final menstrual period.
This menopause transition phase is called peri-menopause (literally meaning “around menopause”).
It can last 6 years or more, and by definition, ends 1 year after the final menstrual period.
Peri-menopausal changes are brought on by changing levels of ovarian hormones such as estrogen. During this transition time, estrogen levels gradually decline, but they do so in an erratic fashion. Sometimes they can even be higher than during the reproductive years.
Irregular menstrual periods, hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and mood swings are common, normal signs of peri-menopause.
Some women experience low libido and/or dryness. During peri-menopause, a woman may be able to conceive, although fertility is very low. If pregnancy is not desired, contraception is necessary until menopause is reached.
3. Test for Peri-menopause
When a woman suspects she is experiencing peri-menopause, it is an excellent time to have a complete medical examination by a qualified health professional. The diagnosis of peri-menopause can usually be made by reviewing a woman’s medical history, her menstrual history, and her signs and symptoms.
In most cases, testing hormonal blood levels is not recommended because in menstruating women hormone levels are changing all the time. However, in younger women (below 40) menstrual irregularity is infrequently a sign of menopause, so hormone testing may be a useful tool to test whether menopause has occurred.
Testing blood hormone levels can also be helpful in assessing a woman’s fertility and potential for pregnancy.
Results can help women make decisions about beginning or adjusting medications and help them understand their personal biological clock.
For some women, it may make sense to test for other causes of symptoms that can mimic peri-menopause, such as thyroid disease. So, check the calendar, the tests, and the health providers' opinions.