Perimenopause refers to the transitional phase before menopause that comes in every woman’s life. It paves the way for an end to her reproductive life. During this phrase, the body cuts down the production of the oestrogen and progesterone hormones. This is also the time when there are irregularities in menstrual cycles. Different women experience this for varying periods of time. For some, it may be as short as 2 years. But others may go through perimenopause for as long as 5 years. Symptoms may also vary from woman to woman.
Let us take a look at some of the signs and symptoms of perimenopause.
You may have irregular menstrual cycle
Researchers at the Endocrine Society say that during perimenopause, women may have irregular menstrual cycles due to the body’s fluctuating hormone levels. There may be long gaps between periods, or the frequency may decrease at times.
Perimenopause may cause disturbed sleep pattern
Researchers at the Center for Health Sciences at SRI International in Menlo Park, CA, and the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, studied how hormone fluctuations affected sleep during the luteal and follicular phases of the menstrual cycle. The luteal phase occurs prior to menstruation. The follicular phase refers to the two weeks after menstruation. They say that symptoms like sleep disturbances and hot flashes typically begin three to five years prior to the onset of menopause, when a woman is in her 40s. According to them, ‘measures of electrical brain activity found that the hormone progesterone influences sleep, even at this late reproductive stage in perimenopausal women.”
There may be excessive bleeding during periods
With ovulation becoming erratic, the endometrium becomes thicker. This causes heavy bleeding. If this is too much for you, you may consult a doctor. He will probably prescribe low-dose hormones for the condition.
Perimenopause may lead to weight gain
If you are experiencing unusual weight gain in your mid to late forties, it may be due to perimenopause. A study at the University of California – Los Angeles Health Sciences says that women undergoing perimenopause lost lean body mass and more than doubled their fat mass.
Vaginal dryness is common during perimenopause
A low level of oestrogen during this period may cause vaginal dryness. This is because the vaginal tissue loses its elasticity and natural lubrication. This may affect your sexual life and relationship with your partner. Consult a doctor. There are many lubricants and moisturisers in the market today that can help reduce the discomfort.