Every woman has a different script for her hormones during the perimenopausal years. In fact, your hormones could be doing a number of different things in the years leading up to menopause. Fluctuating hormones often bring about a host of short-term physical symptoms including bloating, irritability, mood swings, lethargy, food cravings, headaches, anxiety and more. The good news, once a woman reaches menopause, hormones tend to stabilize. However, in the years leading up to menopause, many women experience a few bumps in the hormonal journey.
Symptoms of perimenopause often go undiagnosed. There are a couple of reasons why. First, until recently, perimenopause – the three to five years before natural menopause – have received relatively little attention. Secondly, because women continue to menstruate throughout perimenopause, they might not even realize their bodies are in a transitional stage and that their fluctuating hormone levels are the cause of symptoms. Finally and not surprisingly, during this phase, symptoms of perimenopause are quite similar to those of PMS.
Consequently, women who don’t know they are going through perimenopause may experience symptoms for years. During this time, they may unnecessarily feel like there’s something wrong with them or that they’re going crazy. Some women attribute their extra stress and irritability to the increasing pressures of advancing in their career, raising growing children and/or caring for aging parents.
Of course, some of the same symptoms of PMS and perimenopause may be associated with other medical conditions. It is important for all women to have an ongoing relationship and dialog with their primary care physician. Ask questions and be sure to let them know if you are experiencing any new or unusual changes.
Menopause can be one of the most emotional, stressful, psychologically draining times. It’s never too early to start eating healthfully, balancing your hormone levels and educating yourself about the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. So whether you’re in your 20s, 30s or 40s, we are here to help women through the transition with information and education.
If you need to schedule a routine exam, have symptoms that are concerning or if you need to talk to a physician, please feel free to call my office at 208-232-6100.