What is Menopause and Perimenopause?
Menopause and perimenopause are two stressful, demanding yet normal and natural processes that occur in the life of every woman. In a nutshell, menopause occurs when a woman has not had her period in over 12 months: at this point, she can no longer bear children. Women experience menopause at different ages, and in different ways: while some women start feeling the first symptoms in their early 40s, others start to notice how their progesterone and estrogen levels decrease in their late 50s.
On the other hand, perimenopause refers to the biological, chemical and hormonal changes that take place in a woman’s body prior to menopause, and these changes often occur in the late 30s. The length of perimenopause can vary greatly from one woman to another, as some females experience these symptoms for one to two years before menopause sets in, and other experience them for as much as 10 years. During this period, it is not uncommon for women to experience irregular periods, hot flashes, weight gain and other symptoms. Your ovaries will stop producing progesterone and estrogen, and you stop having periods as you advance into menopause. Unless these signs interfere with your daily activities, you do not need to follow any treatment whatsoever – just allow your body to follow the pattern it was genetically programmed to.
Causes of Menopause and Perimenopause
Aging is the cause of menopause, as this triggers a series of changes in your reproductive system as well as in your hormone levels: the frequency of ovulation decreases over the years, as the egg supply ages and diminishes as well. This is triggered by fluctuating hormonal levels, and after several years the progesterone and estrogen levels drop to such an extent that the menstruation stops completely. Our menopause doctor at Rose Wellness Center has earned the reputation as one of the most popular providers of natural approaches for menopause treatment in Northern Virginia.
Symptoms of Menopause and Perimenopause
The most obvious sign associated with menopause is the presence of irregular periods: the menstrual cycle becomes shorter and lighter as the years pass. This is often accompanied by other symptoms that are rather annoying than dangerous from a medical standpoint, such as insomnia, sudden emotional changes, headaches, vaginal dryness, trouble sleeping as well as palpitations. Some women experience all of these symptoms, while others only experience a couple of them – also, the severity of the symptoms can range anywhere from mild to severe, and they can last or even worsen in time. In some cases, the symptoms can last for five more years after menopause sets in.
The average time to go through menopause is approximately two to eight years. Here are some details of the symptoms along with suggestions to relieve your symptoms.
Changes in Your Periods
During your transition into menopause, your body will begin going through numerous changes. Your periods will become irregular. They may come more or less often, may be lighter or heavier or last longer or shorter than normal. If you begin noticing your periods are becoming irregular, it is essential that you visit your physician to ensure that there are no underlying medical conditions, such as pregnancy or cancer, causing your irregular periods.
Another symptom of Perimenopause is hot flashes. Hot flashes occur when hormone levels rapidly decline or rapidly peak. During a hot flash, you may experience heavy sweating or become so cold you shiver. Other symptoms of hot flashes include excessive heat in your upper body along with red blotches on your face, neck and chest. There are numerous resources available to help relieve hot flashes, including herbs and vitamins. Finally, there are several things to avoid including smoking, caffeine, alcohol, stress and spicy foods.
Trouble Sleeping and Night Sweats
You may begin having trouble sleeping and night sweats often occur. You may feel exhausted throughout the day because of having trouble going to sleep and staying asleep. Also, you may find yourself waking up in a drenching sweat through the night. To help relieve night sweats, lower the thermostat at night, chill your pillows and wear loose clothing to bed
Mood swings are another common occurrence that happens during perimenopause. This often happens because of hormonal swings. There may be times when you feel like crying, times when you are hateful and even times when you feel giddy. Additionally, you may have trouble concentrating, have episodes of anxiety and fatigue. Learning self-calming practices, such as mediation, deep breathing exercises and yoga can help relieve symptoms.
Urinary and Vaginal Troubles
As estrogen levels drop, you may begin noticing your vagina is drier making intercourse uncomfortable. Other symptoms include urinary incontinence. When urinary incontinence occurs, you may have to go more often and may experience leakage. Leakage generally occurs when you cough, laugh or sneeze. Finally, you may begin noticing you are getting more urinary tract infections. To help prevent infections, drink the recommended amount of water each day. Finally, to help prevent urinary incontinence, perform Kegel exercises each day to build your pelvic floor muscles.
Other Symptoms of Menopause and Perimenopause
In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, you may experience a plethora of other symptoms. Many women experience a lower sex drive due to waning hormones. As your body changes, so does the risk of bone fractures. Many menopausal women experience osteoporosis. When osteoporosis occurs, the bones weaken and thin. Finally, you may experience weight change. Muscle loss can occur. The body can also begin to store excess fat around the middle of the body.
Menopause Treatment at Rose Wellness Center
Menopause treatment is usually not needed if the symptoms are mild and do not affect your daily life. However, if the symptoms are persistent and severe, then you may need some lifestyle changes (which involves quitting smoking, healthy eating and regular physical exercises). The integrative physician at Rose Wellness Center in Northern Virginia will check your hormone levels and create a personalized treatment plan just for you. Hormone replacement therapy may be used to help restore your hormonal balance.
To know more about menopause and to evaluate if you are menopausal, please call us at (571)529-6699 to setup an appointment with our integrative physician specializing in menopause treatment using natural approaches.
We gladly serve Washington DC metro area, Maryland, and Northern Virginia including Fairfax, Loudoun, Alexandria, and Prince William counties.