What is Perimenopause?
Keep on reading for the signs perimenopause is ending. But first, some general information about perimenopause, including the most common symptoms.
Perimenopause literally means ‘around menopause’ and refers to the stage when a woman’s body naturally transitions to menopause. This happens as a result of the ovaries producing less estrogen.
Perimenopause usually takes place when a woman hits her 40s, 30s or even earlier. This phases lasts up until menopause, which is when the ovaries no longer release any eggs. Estrogen levels speed up in the last 1 or 2 years of perimenopause.
How Long Does Perimenopause Last?
Generally, the average duration of perimenopause for a woman is 4 years, but can last for a couple of months or even 10 years in others. The surest sign of a woman entering menopause is when she goes 12 months without having a period.
Signs Perimenopause is Ending
Keep on reading for some of the most common signs of perimenopause including weight gain, mood swings, night sweats and hot flashes and decreased sex drive.
#1 Sign Menopause is Approaching? Periods are Further Apart
However, the surest sign that perimenopause is close to ending are periods that are further and further apart. You may start to have a period every six weeks or two months instead of every 28 days. Eventually, you may only have a period every few months.
Of course, it’s different for every person. But, it’s not common to have regular periods, and then suddenly have no periods and be in menopause. You will most likely experience some sort of irregular periods that are lighter and further apart than normal.
When Does Menopause Start?
The official definition of menopause is when you haven’t menstruated for one full year. The timing starts at the end of your last period.
If you have a period, and then go six months without one, the timing resets again. For example, you’d have to wait another full year until you’re officially menopausal, and not just six months.
Signs of Perimenopause
Here some of the common symptoms or signs that may indicate you’re going through a perimenopausal transition:
The most common sign perimenopause is ending is irregular periods.
When your ovulation becomes more inconsistent, the length of your menstruation cycles may be longer or shorter. You may also skip some periods and your flow may be either light or heavy.
If your periods have a persistent change of 7 days or more, it means you’re in the early stages of perimenopause. If the length is 60 days or more, you could be in late perimenopause.
Learn more about periods in perimenopause.
During normal menstrual cycles, the breasts are able to retain more fluid before the next period arrives. This is due to the estrogen production that is taking place.
However, the ovarian estrogen production becomes more erratic when a woman reaches the perimenopausal phase. This actually leads to a greater volume production of estrogen. This as a result, leads to fluid retention causing the breasts become more tender.
You’re not Crazy! It Might be Perimenopause
Hot flashes are feelings of warmth that are strongly felt in the neck and facial areas of a woman’s body. This is usually followed by intense sweating or flushing and can last between 30 seconds to several minutes.
Hot flashes are incredibly disturbing and can even make it hard for one to concentrate. They can last for years even after menstruation has stopped.
This is technically hot flashes that happen at night. Night sweats may occur once an hour and can disturb a woman’s sleep. This in turn leads to insomnia, which could also lead to irritability and depression. Women are likely to incur night-sweat-induced insomnia which keeps them from performing daily tasks at home.
The overall estrogen production, according to some studies is shown to increase during perimenopause, although this tends to be unpredictable. Sometimes, when the estrogen production is high, a woman may likely experience nausea. And in some cases, this could be extreme to the point where one require may medical treatment.
Every woman is born with a certain limit of eggs in her ovaries and after reaching a certain age, the ovaries eventually run out of eggs. This makes the chances of getting pregnant very difficult for the woman who wishes to conceive.
To make matters worse, the quality of the egg diminishes with time, so even if the woman were to become pregnant, there is a greater percentage of miscarriage. This is due to the eggs becoming chromosomally abnormal that can lead the body to reject an otherwise defective embryo.
Many feel that because their periods are erratic, they are unable to conceive, which is why they do not opt for contraception. But if these women do eventually become pregnant, it would be in a time where they are not prepared to go through child-rearing.
Learn more here: Is it Possible to Become Pregnant During Perimenopause?
To reiterate, erratic estrogen production in large quantities leads to fluid retention. This is a bad sign for the body because fluid retention may lead to body swelling.
It is a likely contributor to weight gain as estrogen production can affect the higher brain centers that control appetite, which can boost hunger urges. This is a common phenomenon for perimenopausal women.
You can find out more details here: Weight Gain During Perimenopause.
Mood swings like anxiety and depression happen quite frequently during perimenopause. The main underlying problem for this is the night sweat-induced insomnia which break the body’s intrinsic diurnal rhythm.
Because of this phenomenon, women have difficulty in doing the many things of their daily lives. This can also affect interpersonal relationships if the woman is unable to make sense of her surroundings. She can even verbalize her concerns to other people presently with her. Transient loss of memory is also common.
More details about these two common mood changes here:
Decreased Bone Density
Estrogen is also responsible for the metabolism of bone in a woman’s body. Typically,the calcium in the bones is equally balanced. This means the calcium that leaves the bone is replaced by the calcium that enters the bone.
Unfortunately, when the estrogen production becomes more erratic during perimenopause, it ruins the balance that results in an increase of calcium that leaves the bone.
If the calcium goes to decline like this, it could lead to a common condition known as osteoporosis or loss of bone density.
Low Sex Drive
Many women experience a reduced desire for sexual intimacy when they approach menopause. Some of the major problems that lead to this include altered sleep IQ patterns and chronic fatigue.
Along with estrogen, the ovary – which normally produces the hormone testosterone necessary for sex drive – diminishes, leading to a decreased libido.
Managing the Symptoms of Menopause
Differing Blood Cholesterol Levels
Low estrogen levels lead to low density lipoprotein (LDL) levels, which are also known as ‘bad cholesterol.’ This also leads to a drop in high-density (HDL) lipoprotein, otherwise known as ‘good cholesterol.’
These are the changes that could potentially cause a woman to develop heart disease.
The urethra (the tube that directs urine from the bladder) and the bladder respond to the presence of estrogen. And when its production shrinks, it may lead to:
- Frequent urge to urinate (urinary urgency).
- More susceptibility to urinary tract infections (UTIs).
- Losing the ability to hold back urine along with a boost in intra-abdominal pressure that is accompanied by coughing, sneezing and heavy lifting. This is partially due to the lowered pressure in the urethra caused by decreased estrogen production.
Signs Perimenopause is Ending: Have your Say!
What are your thoughts about the signs perimenopause is ending, and menopause is approaching? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Reference: Cleveland Clinic
Tammy Ford is the resident expert for all things Women’s Health (vaginal discharge and infections, perimenopause, menstrual cycles and more) and is also a chief tester of all things eco-friendly period products. She has a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and specializes in reproductive health.
You can contact her via email: [email protected]