Peri menopause literally means ‘around menopause’. It is the transitional stage and refers to the time in which the hormone levels are changing, up to when your periods stop. This phase can last anywhere between two to ten years before complete cessation of the menstrual period and usually begins between the ages of 35 and 50. During this phase symptoms may be non-existent, mild, moderate or severe and could last for months or years. It is difficult to give definitive information, as every woman is unique and will experience Peri-menopause differently.
Peri-menopause is most commonly characterised by irregular menstrual periods, hot flushes, night sweats, mood changes, depression, irritability, anxiety, sleep disturbances, headaches, loss of concentration and fatigue.
This stage represents the end of a woman’s reproductive life. Oestrogen and progesterone production decreases permanently to very low levels, the ovaries stop producing eggs and a woman can no longer get pregnant naturally.
Once you have gone 12 months without a period, you are considered to be in menopause. In fact, you will only ever be in this ‘menopause stage’ for a single day, because once the 12 months have gone by you will then be ‘post-menopausal’.
It is worth noting that 90 percent of women who have not had a period for six months do not have another one.
This refers to the stage of life after menopause has occurred. Once you have reached this stage you will be post-menopausal for the rest of your life.
Many symptoms that occurred during Peri-menopause will now become less frequent and intense, and may even stop altogether. However, the permanent decrease in oestrogen and progesterone levels can continue to affect your health, including a decrease in bone density, which can lead to osteoporosis. During the first two years after menopause bone density decreases by about three to five percent each year, and after that by about one to two percent each year. You may also experience loss of muscle mass and strength, and be subject to an increased risk of breast cancer. Other health problems due to low hormone levels include weak bladder, loss of libido and a decrease in collagen, causing your skin to become thinner and dryer.
The transition through menopause can be a traumatic time for many women.
The more you know about it, the more you will understand what is happening and why, giving you the power to control many of your symptoms.
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