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Perimenopause, or “around menopause,” is your body’s transition into the end of its reproductive years. The average American woman enters menopause at 52. The transitional period for a woman before she enters menopause typically begins in her 40s and can occur for multiple years. “Over my years in practice I have seen women who are suffering from symptoms of perimenopause, but they don’t even know it.”says Laura Tyree, M.D., an Inspira Medical Group physician, board certified in obstetrics and gynecology.“Sadly, with symptoms like loss of concentration or breast tenderness women have come to me very worried that they have chronic or even life-threatening conditions. It is important to investigate concerning symptoms. If it is perimenopause, you can breathe a sigh of relief and know there are things that can help.”
During perimenopause, a woman’s ovaries are winding down and her levels of estrogen and progesterone are fluctuating as they try to keep up with normal levels of hormone production. Women begin to experience menopause-like symptoms but still have a menstrual cycle, although this menstrual cycle may be longer or shorter than usual. Once a woman has gone through a year without a menstrual period, she is said to have finished perimenopause and entered menopause.
During perimenopause, a woman may experience some of the following changes in her body:
- Irregular periods
- Hot flashes and sleep problems
- Mood changes
- Vaginal and bladder problems
- Decreasing fertility
- Changes in sexual function
- Bone loss
- Changing cholesterol levels
- Breast tenderness
- Difficulty concentrating
There are lifestyle changes women can introduce in their daily habits to help boost health and support their body in the best way possible during this phase to minimize symptoms. And, you should tell your primary care and gynecological practitioner about your symptoms.
For sleep problems:
Women may feel like they’re always tired and never able to get a proper night’s rest during this phase. Symptoms unrelated to sleep can also keep them up a night. Avoid workouts in the evenings if possible, avoid naps and try some calming chamomile tea at bedtime to help wind down.
For mood changes:
The significant hormonal changes that come with perimenopause can have a big impact on mood. Regular exercise can help with this, but remember, not too close to bedtime. Limit caffeine consumption to mornings and try to introduce activities like meditation or yoga to promote relaxation.
For hot flashes:
Dress in layers that are easy to take off if needed. When possible, keep home and office spaces on the cool side and ditch the cigarettes. Studies have found that smoking is linked to increased hot flashes.
For bone health:
Women who have entered perimenopause are at an increased risk for developing osteoporosis since their body’s natural bone-building process gets interrupted as estrogen levels decline (estrogen helps preserve calcium in the body). Make sure to get adequate calcium and vitamin D with each meal.
If your symptoms are impacting your daily life, talk to your doctor. Schedule an appointment by calling 1-800-INSPIRA.