This is just another phase in your life. If you are feeling anxious about it, you will find some comfort from reading this article.
A woman’s life cycle is one of the most amazing wonders of nature. In the course of a lifetime, she is born, grows up, matures into a woman, bears a child and reaches her full potential as a woman when she is finally relieved of her role as an agent of procreation. It is normal for every woman to feel uncomfortable as she enters each stage of her life and it is is perfectly normal to feel a little anxious when entering perimenopause. But, there is a saying that for every door that closes, a new one opens.
So be assured that as you mature and enter the stage of perimenopause, you will be empowered with a greater degree of freedom that will allow you to reach your full potential.
What is Perimenopause?
The prefix “peri” means “about” or “around” and the root word “menopause” is that period in a woman’s life where her menstruation stops. Therefore, perimenopause is that period where a woman is about to stop menstruating.
Menopause usually happens around the age of 40 to 50 and can be officially declared if a woman has gone through 12 consecutive months without menstruation. The progression towards menopause covers the perimenopause period.
What Happens During Perimenopause?
A lot of women have negative feelings about perimenopause because the term is often used to refer to those who are old and aging. However, it has nothing to do with your actual age. Women start perimenopause at different ages. Most women experience the symptoms of perimenopause in their 40s but some women notice the changes as early as their mid-30s.
One of the signs that you are at the perimenopause stage in your life and are progressing towards menopause is when your menstrual cycles are starting to become irregular. Your cycles can become shorter or longer. Or, you may begin having menstrual cycles in which you don’t ovulate at all.
What are the Symptoms of Perimenopause?
Aside from irregularity in your menstrual cycles, you will notice some of these symptoms during this stage:
- Hot flashes
- Breast tenderness
- Loss of libido
- Vaginal dryness causing discomfort in intercourse
- Urine leaking when you cough or sneeze
- Urgent need to urinate more frequently
- Uncontrollable mood swings
- Trouble sleeping
Perimenopause usually last for four years but for some, it may only last for a few months while for others, it may continue for up to ten years.
How is It Diagnosed?
If you are experiencing some of the symptoms just mentioned and you want to make sure that are signs of perimenopause, you can perform a simple Follicle Stimulating Hormone test (FSH) at home. FSH test kits are available in drug stores and pharmacies.
Here’s a background on how the FSH test works. To stimulate your ovaries to produce eggs, your pituitary gland produces follicle stimulating hormones. When you enter perimenopause and your ovaries are no longer working at its fullest, your pituitary glands produce more of these hormones to try to make your ovaries respond. Therefore when you are at perimenopause, your FSH results will be high.
There are claims that FSH home testing is 90% accurate. However, experts at WebMD are saying that diagnosing perimenopause at home with a FSH home tester cannot produce accurate results because all they can tell you is that your FSH levels are high and it has nothing to do with your fertility.
The best option would still be to go to your doctor who is the best person to evaluate your condition. After confirming your age, the symptoms you are having and the latest history of your menstrual cycles, he may conduct some clinical tests to confirm your condition. He may test your FSH levels again. He might perform an estrogen Test to see how much estrogen production has dropped and how much estrogen is not being absorbed. Perimenopause symptoms are similar to those caused by a thyroid problem. To rule this out, your doctor might perform a Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) Test.
How to Deal with Perimenopause?
When it’s confirmed that you are going through perimenopause, the next thing you have to do is look for ways to treat the perimenopause symptoms. The physical discomforts of perimenopause can easily be controlled. Antidepressants can help stabilize your mood despite the hormonal changes that are happening. Regular exercise can help reduce the occurrence of hot flashes and when you are in the middle of one, deep, slow abdominal breathing, six to eight breaths per minute, will help alleviate the condition.
Perimenopause does not mean you are getting old. You are as young as you feel! So, don’t let this phase worry you.