Perimenopause is a difficult time for many women. The hormonal fluctuations that take place at this time lead to drastic changes in a woman's body and mood. These trying physical and emotional symptoms include, but are not limited to, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and decreased libido, and they can make a woman feel less than enthusiastic about the transition. However, there are solutions for many of the unpleasant side effects associated with this transformative period.
Perimenopause is the years of a woman's life leading up to the occurrence of menopause, encompassing the start of the menopause transition. The term menopause is commonly used interchangeably with the word perimenopause; however, menopause is the moment in time when a woman has not had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. Therefore, when you find yourself experiencing the symptoms of menopause, it is really perimenopause that is causing this unpleasantness.
Perimenopause and Hormones
When the body stops producing the same amounts of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone that it was creating before perimenopause, the initial signs of this reproductive stage manifest for the first time. The dramatic fluctuation and eventual decrease in the production of these hormones causes the unpleasant side effects that are commonly associated with menopause.
Changes in the levels of these hormones cause symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and loss of libido. But there are other, lesser known symptoms of perimenopause that are also caused by changes in hormone levels; these include memory lapses, itchy skin, muscle tension, sensation of a burning tongue, and more. All of these side effects are caused in some way by fluctuations in levels of vital hormones.
Treating Hormonal Imbalance
There is a variety of treatment options for women who are trying to regulate their hormone levels during the perimenopause phase. There is a long list of natural remedies that have medicinal qualities that can help boost diminishing levels of estrogen and testosterone. Some herbal treatments contain phytoestrogens, a type of plant compound with estrogen-like qualities that can mimic the effects of human estrogen.
These phytoestrogens can help keep menopausal symptoms. This is an alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which has unfortunately been linked to higher incidences of stroke, breast cancer, and endometrial cancer. Although it is effective in treating menopause symptoms, the risks do not always outweigh the benefits.
If you are concerned about your hormone levels, you should consult your physician to determine the best treatment methods for perimenopause symptoms.
- Office on Women's Health. (2012). Menopause and menopause treatments fact sheet. Retrieved November 25, 2015, from http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/menopause-treatment.html
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2012). Menopause. Retrieved November 25, 2015, from https://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/menopause