In order to understand the menopausal transition in its entirety, it is crucial that women first have developed knowledge about premenopause, the very first stage. Continue reading to learn all about premenopause, including its fundamentals, how long it lasts, and tests women can undergo to confirm they are still within their fertile years.
The Fundamentals of Premenopause
Premenopause is the first stage of the menopause process. Some define it as the time in a woman's life in which she is fully fertile and able to reproduce.
During premenopause, it is not uncommon for many women to experience physical and psychological discomforts leading up to each menstrual cycle, commonly known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
How Long Does Premenopause Last?
It is hard to determine exactly how long premenopause will last because the age at which women enter puberty and then transition into perimenopause differs.
Assuming that most women have their first period - called menarche - in their early teens and experience the first hormonal changes of perimenopause in their mid-40s, it can be said that for approximately 30 years, women are fully fertile, granted they do not suffer from any health conditions that may cause infertility, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis.
Moreover, even though some premenopause women suffer from symptoms related to perimenopause, that does not necessarily mean they are exiting their fertile years. In rare cases, however, women could in fact be undergoing premature menopause, if younger than 40, or early menopause, if between 40 and 45.
Therefore, in order to assure themselves that they still are in premenopause, tests can be undergone. Learn about them in the next section.
Women can order a series of tests to determine if their symptoms are related to perimenopause or another underlying health condition.
A few of the tests undergone are:
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) Test
Thyroid disease symptoms can closely mirror those of perimenopause, including fatigue, weight gain, irritability, irregular periods, and muscle aches. Speak with your doctor about necessary blood work that canbe done to confirm that your TSH levels are within normal.
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) Test
Consistently elevated FSH levels can signify that a woman has entered perimenopause and is nearing her menopause date. However, one reading isnot sufficient enough as the hormone's levels vary on a daily basis. Accompanying symptoms are also considered in the diagnosis.
Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH) Test
AMH is a hormone produced by maturing follicles in the ovaries. When its levels fall is a good indicator that the ovarian reserve is diminished,and a woman has entered perimenopause. Nevertheless, test results should be used with other labs and assessments.
Now that you have a better understanding of premenopause, the next step is to learn about the causes of premenopause symptoms, better known as PMS symptoms, so that you can manage them accordingly. Click on the preceding link to continue your path to better hormonal knowledge.
- American Association for Clinical Chemistry. (2018). FDA Approves Blood Test for Menopause. Retrieved September 26, 2019, from https://labtestsonline.org/news/fda-approves-blood-test-menopause
- Cleveland Clinic. (2016). Thyroid Disease. Retrieved September 26, 2019, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8541-thyroid-disease
- Duke Health. (2013). When is Puberty Too Early? Retrieved September 26, 2019, from https://www.dukehealth.org/blog/when-puberty-too-early
- Harvard Health Publishing. (2018). Perimenopause: Rocky road to menopause. Retrieved September 26, 2019, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/perimenopause-rocky-road-to-menopause
- The North American Menopause Society. (n.d.). Menopause 101: A primer for the perimenopausal. Retrieved September 26, 2019, from https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/menopause-101-a-primer-for-the-perimenopausal