Most women think they won't need to deal with menopause until their late 40s or into their 50s. However, perimenopause happens much earlier. The symptoms of perimenopause are often unrecognized or explained away as something else.
Symptoms of perimenopause include:
When your life is busy, as it is for most women in their 30s and 40s, a missed period here or there may go unnoticed. You may have a light period followed by a heavy period just to make up for it. Unless you are dealing with issues associated with infertility, you may not pay much attention to whats going on with your periods. The fact is, missed and even light periods may represent the occasional anovulatory cycle (the beginning of the end of periods altogether) and that the heavier period is the shedding of the now extra-thick lining of the uterus (endometrium) which was not shed previously. Periods may be farther apart or come closer together…it is a time of ups and downs in the production of estrogen and progesterone.
Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
All of a sudden, you may find yourself with red cheeks, feeling overly warm when no one else is, or you wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat (even on cool nights when the heat is off). When these things happen occasionally, you might not make a connection. At this level, they may only cause a small amount of disruption in your life. Dressing in layers, drinking plenty of cool water, and using light bed covers may manage these symptoms.
For some women, the disruptions are anything but minor. Irregular menstrual cycles can lead to an increasingly thickened endometrium, which sloughs off at random, causing gushes of blood and the passing of large clots that can warrant an emergency room visit. Months of heavy bleeding can result in undiagnosed anemia, which is experienced as fatigue or episodes of dizziness. Depression and anxiety take the place of mood swings, sometimes to the extreme. Night sweats may keep a woman from getting enough sleep, constantly exhausted. Hot flashes may rattle you if you start sweating profusely in the middle of an important business presentation. The emotional toll, along with the unpredictability of her body can cause many a woman to be a nervous wreck, never knowing what to expect next.
Heavy Periods and Menstrual Bleeding
Progesterone may be prescribed to get heavy bleeding under control. Other medical intervention may include a D&C (dilation and curettage) a procedure in which the cervical opening is dilated and the endometrial lining is scraped clean with a curette (a small spoon-like instrument) or a hysterectomy (the surgical removal of the uterus). A hysterectomy is rarely the only choice when the problem is excessive bleeding. Always get a second opinion.