Hot flashes. Mood swings. Weight gain. Low libido. These things and many more are infamously associated with menopause — the natural biological process that every woman goes through in her 40s or 50s.
Menopause marks the end of your reproductive years. During and after menopause, you’re no longer fertile, but the hormonal changes that come along with it can trigger an abundance of unpleasant symptoms that make life miserable.
If you’ve noticed that your menstrual cycle is becoming irregular, or you’re experiencing new symptoms like hot flashes or mood swings, you might be wondering if you’re in menopause.
The timing and symptoms of menopause vary widely from woman to woman, so it’s not always easy to know if what you’re experiencing is menopause or something else.
Patricia Nevils, MD, and our team at Vibrant Woman Health Center specialize in identifying menopause and treating the symptoms that affect your quality of life. We’re here to help you make sense of your symptoms and the process of menopause, so you know what to expect next.
Perimenopause is the period of time before menopause itself, but after your most fertile years are behind you. Most women are in perimenopause for about four years, but it can range from a few months to 10 years.
When you enter perimenopause, your fertility naturally begins declining. Your body produces less estrogen than it did before, and fluctuating hormone levels can trigger symptoms that mimic symptoms of menopause.
For many women, the first signs of perimenopause start appearing when they’re in their 40s. Some women notice signs as early as their 30s.
A few common signs of perimenopause (and menopause) include:
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Low libido
- Vaginal dryness
- Weight changes
- Urinary incontinence
Since the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause can appear identical, it’s easy to wonder what stage you fall into. The biggest difference between the two is that if you’re in perimenopause, you still have a menstrual period, even if bleeding is irregular.
The start of menopause
You enter menopause after you’ve gone a full year without a period. By that point, your ovaries are no longer releasing eggs and you can’t get pregnant. The symptoms of perimenopause and menopause can be similar, but many women find that symptoms get worse as time goes on.
The good news is that menopausal symptoms aren’t permanent. Hot flashes, mood swings, and other common symptoms generally last 4-5 years after the onset of menopause. After that, hormone levels stabilize and symptoms fade.
Surviving menopausal symptoms
Although symptoms of menopause aren’t permanent, they can have a profound impact on your quality of life. Some women find their symptoms are short-lived and manageable without medical intervention, but others experience severe symptoms that make life difficult.
If you’re in perimenopause or menopause and your symptoms are affecting your daily life, help is available. Dr. Nevils and our team offer menopause treatment, including hormone replacement therapy and hormone pellet therapy that can be effective in relieving bothersome menopause symptoms.
Hormone replacement is completely customizable. Dr. Nevils may recommend a low dose of hormones to start, and our team monitors your condition to adjust your treatment plan as necessary — so you feel more like yourself again.
Are your symptoms indicative of perimenopause or menopause? Find ways to stay healthy and feel good during this transitional time of life. Call our office at (337) 234-6838 request an appointment, or send us a message today.