Spotlight on perimenopause
The menopause doesn’t happen overnight, and more than 30 years of ovulation comes to a gradual halt. Firstly, there is an interval, which varies in length, called the perimenopause.
Between the ages of 45 and 50 abnormalities in the menstrual cycle begin to appear. The age at which these changes appear is different according to family gynaecological history. This interval of irregular periods comes before periods stop for good and before the year that follows the apparent end of periods.
Warning signs that perimenopause is on your horizon
Perimenopause comes two to four years before your periods stop for good. Coinciding with the decrease in production of female sex hormones, it is marked by period irregularities.
- A longer or shorter cycle;
- Alteration in heaviness, frequency and length of periods.
Problems occurring before periods (or premenstrual syndrome/PMS):
- Tender, swollen breasts (mastalgia);
- Abdominal bloating;
- Mood swings;
- Facial oedema, etc.
The uterus is slightly enlarged and bloated. There is heavy discharge of cervical mucus. These symptoms are in relation to how constant and how excessive the secretion of oestrogen is and the decrease (disappearance even) of the secretion of progestogen.
Getting through perimenopause
The perimenopause lasts for an average of four years and by definition continues for the twelve months following your final period.
If the symptoms aren’t causing you any serious problems, there’s no need for any treatment as the menopause (and its symptoms) are a natural part of life. On the other hand, if perimenopausal problems are really affecting your quality of life, you should speak to your doctor and even raise the possibility of treatment with him.
Lifestyle plays an important role in your successful road through perimenopause: ensuring a balanced diet, rich in calcium and fibre; try and keep up regular exercise, even if you are feeling tired; try out meditation or relaxation to keep your stress levels down; and do try to avoid tobacco and alcohol.
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