Women everywhere know the word menopause and what it means, even if just a basic definition of the term. Perimenopause, however, may be less known as a word but more commonly referred to due to many women confusing the meanings of the two words. When a woman states she “is going through menopause,” she often means her body is in perimenopause. Fortunately, women today have more options as far as receiving information and, in some cases, relief from perimenopause’s many symptoms.
What is Menopause?
Menopause is the final menstruation which is officially confirmed after missing your period for 12 consecutive months – meaning it’s an event with a defined point in time. Perimenopause (peri derives from Greek and means around, about, surrounding or near) refers to the transition your body goes through leading up to menopause.
It is during perimenopause that those common symptoms creep upon you: ? night sweats, hot flashes, mood swings and changes in sex drive. A few other symptoms hitchhike with perimenopause that aren’t as noticeable upfront: changes in cholesterol levels, loss of bone density and decreased fertility.
Estrogen is a key player in perimenopause and throughout the life of most women. Estrogen levels rise and fall throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle with regularity. Without going to in depth, this rise and fall of estrogen coincides with various aspects of your menstrual cycle. During perimenopause, your estrogen forgets all about rising and falling on a predictable schedule and becomes a little erratic. Because of this change in regularity, the first symptom many women experience during perimenopause is irregular periods.
Perhaps the most commonly known symptom of perimenopause is the hot flash. This is a sensation that creates a variety of symptoms in different women: flushed face, sweating and/or chills. According to Harvard Health, estrogen is also behind – or at least somewhat responsible for – the dreaded hot flashes.
If you have symptoms that worry you, always feel free to speak with your doctor for more information. Heavy bleeding, severe mood swings or extreme changes in your sexual desire or function may require help from your physician. We can help relieve many of these symptoms or manage the associated effects.