For practically their entire adult lives, women hear about menopause and its symptoms as something in the distant future. However, the menopause process can sometimes start a lot sooner than most people think. The first stage of the menopause process sometimes referred to as premenopause, the beginning of women's reproductive lives.
In the following sections, women will find detailed information about what premenopause really means for their lives, as well as the causes, symptoms, and possible treatments while in premenopause.
Premenopause is the first of the four stages in the menopause process. It starts when a woman enters her reproductive years and finishes with the first signs of menopause.
The beginning of premenopause can be identified by the first menstrual cycle. In contrast, the end is not as clear, as it manifests variably in the 40s with the first discomforts of menopause, such as hot flashes and mood swings.
Differences: Premenopause and menopause
Confusion might arise with these terms, and having a clear notion of both is vital to thoroughly understand what happens over the course of a woman's reproductive life. The difference is as follows:
- Premenopause. This is the stage preceding the process, the time in which a woman is fully fertile and menopause symptoms haven't manifested yet.
- Menopause. This is marked by the total cessation of the menstrual cycle for 12 months or more.
Bear in mind that not all women go through the menopause process at the same age. Fortunately, tests have been developed to help women identify if they remain in premenopause or have already moved on to the next stage.
For more information on premenopause, click on the following link about premenopause, or keep reading to find out about the causes of premenopause.
Hormones are at the very heart of the causes of premenopause symptoms. Natural hormones like estrogen and progesterone begin to fluctuate during premenopause, leading to the premenstrual symptoms that so many women report.
- Hormonal causes. Occurring gradually in harmony with the rhythm of a woman's body, these are natural fluctuations in hormones that accompany the menstrual cycle and can lead to unpleasant symptoms.
- External causes. These include prolonged physical or emotional stress, diets rich in refined carbohydrates, and unhealthy habits like smoking.
Click on the following link to learn more about premenopause causes or continue reading below to discover the symptoms of premenopause.
Since hormone levels are relatively stable during premenopause compared to menopause, the symptoms women experience are not usually as disruptive.
At most, there could be some issues during the menstrual cycle. These are also referred as premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
For more information about the manifestations of premenopause, click on symptoms of premenopause. Alternatively, continue reading to discover how women can treat the unpleasant signs and symptoms of premenopause.
The treatments for premenopause symptoms vary widely, but each treatment falls under one of three following categories. These categories, divided by intensity, are as follows.
These can involve something as simple as eating fewer processed foods or as demanding as sticking to an exercise regimen.
When women present any discomfort, experts first recommend to take a look at habits. Usually, some simple lifestyle changes can have a great impact on overall well-being. A healthy diet, as well as reducing smoking and alcohol consumption, could be some of the measures to take.
While massage and aromatherapy are some of the alternative possibilities, herbal supplements lead the alternative remedies. They can be classified into two groups: phytoestrogenic supplements, which add plant-derived estrogen to the body, and hormone-regulating herbal supplements, which stimulate natural hormone production.
Prescribed medication, like birth control pills, is the most popular form of treatment for premenopause symptoms in the United States. However, in recent years, discussion of hormonal treatments has focused on the risks of side effects they may pose.
Each of these different treatment levels has its own merits and drawbacks. It is often recommended that women first test the waters with the mildest option, lifestyle changes, and gradually move on to more intense treatments if necessary. Please click on the following link to learn more about the different options for premenopause treatments.
- BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007.
- Hopkins, Virginia. Lee, John R. M.D. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause. New York: Warner Books Inc., 1996.
- Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.