Many women begin to experience changes in their bodies and emotions as they age – but most don’t know that those chances are caused by perimenopause.
Due to the lack of gender-specific scientific studies and the stigma surrounding conversations about menstruation and menopause, many adult women have little to no knowledge of the natural changes that occur in their own bodies as they age from pre-adolescence through to late adulthood.
Today, menopause is still shrouded in mystery, however keeping menopause in the shadows only perpetuates the mystery – leaving countless women unaware of the profound connection between their experiences and perimenopause.
In this article we shed light on perimenopause: a transitional period that deserves both our attention and empathy. Our goal is to empower women by fostering understanding, dispelling misconceptions and equipping them with the knowledge to take charge of their health and wellbeing.
Here at Revivele there is no room for shame or secrecy when it comes to our bodies.
Rather than letting perimenopause control us, let’s seize the opportunity to learn about its intricacies, navigate its symptoms and harness the wisdom it holds.
Scroll on to learn:
- What is perimenopause
- Common symptoms of perimenopause
- Atypical symptoms of perimenopause
- Why it’s important to treat perimenopause
What is perimenopause?
Perimenopause, often referred to as the “menopause transition” is a significant transition phase in a woman’s reproductive journey. While menopause itself signifies the end of menstrual cycles, perimenopause serves as the precursor to this final milestone.
Typically beginning in a woman’s late 30s or early 40s, perimenopause is characterized by fluctuating hormone levels as the ovaries gradually produce less estrogen – a vital hormone that maintains body temperature, keeps menstrual cycles regular, balances emotions, controls body weight, and more.
By understanding perimenopause women can reclaim control over their bodies, making informed choices that align with their health and wellness goals.
The common symptoms of perimenopause
Perimenopausal symptoms can be confusing, uncomfortable and at times distressing for women. They can manifest as a wide range of physical and emotional experiences, even varying from woman to woman.
It’s very important that women understand what they are experiencing – and how to treat the symptoms to maintain their physical, emotional and mental health.
Perimenopause may come with changes such as:
- Mood fluctuations
- Changes to sexual drive
- Difficulty concentrating
- Night sweats
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Weight gain
There are lesser known symptoms such as tinnitus, heart palpitations and joint pain, making it even more important to understand the full extent of how perimenopause can present.
What do hot flashes feel like?
Perimenopausal hot flashes are a sensation unlike any other.
Hot flashes are experienced as a sudden rush of heat in your neck, chest and face, which at times can make women feel dizzy. It’s as if your internal thermostat has gone haywire, often promoting a sense of being overwhelmed and significant discomfort.
Night sweats are a similar experience, occurring while trying to sleep, therefore making it difficult to get a restful nights’ sleep.
The unpredictability of hot flashes can be challenging to navigate, making it crucial for women to understand ways to cope with this part of the perimenopausal journey.
Regular exercise, herbal remedies, stress reduction, mindful eating and staying hydrated are all important ways to manage perimenopausal hot flashes. Reducing alcohol consumption, limiting spicy foods and eliminating foods that exacerbate symptoms can also help.
What do irregular perimenopausal periods look like?
Irregular perimenopausal periods can be frustrating and unpredictable.
An irregular period may be shorter or longer than your standard period. It may be heavier at the onset of menstruation (the first couple days), and lighter for the last few days.
Perimenopausal periods may also come with cramps (even if you never had them before), or a sudden absence of cramps if you’ve had them all your life.
Some women experience periods that are absent for sixty days at a time before they return, coming and going at irregular intervals until menopause is experienced.
Changes to sexual desire and vaginal dryness
Menopause occurs when a woman has not had a period for twelve months or more. During the years leading to this time, women may experience a decrease in sexual desire, and have more difficulty in becoming aroused.
Another symptom of perimenopause and menopause is vaginal dryness. Vaginal dryness takes place when estrogen levels decline, resulting in the tissues of the vagina becoming dry, thin and not well moisturized. This can lead to pain during sex, which can have an impact on sexual desire, or interest in sexual activity.
Vaginal dryness can be treated in-the-moment with natural lubricants, or can be achieved through long-term solutions such as hormone replacement therapy to replace a woman’s estrogen levels to maintain equilibrium during perimenopause and menopause.
Dr. Kavita talks about the benefits of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in her book Lady Parts – get the synopsis here.
Remember, your worth and desirability is not defined by external factors. You deserve self-love and acceptance. You can reclaim your own narrative of desire and pleasure.
Know your body, own your journey
Dr. Kavita Desai, founder of Revivele, recently published a book called Lady Parts: Putting Women’s Health Back into Women’s Hands.
In her book, Dr. Kavita talks about the fact that at no time in a woman’s life are they truly educated about what is happening – and what will happen – within their bodies as they age.
Women’s health requires increased awareness and advocacy because historically, it has often been underrepresented and misunderstood. By shining a light on women’s unique health needs, we can address disparities, promote early detection and improve overall healthcare outcomes.
It’s also important for women to understand the changes they are experiencing in order to maintain a healthy quality of life as they age. On this note, let’s talk a little more about atypical symptoms of perimenopause.
Atypical symptoms of perimenopause
The typical symptoms of perimenopause may not be the only ones women experience as they enter this new phase in their lives.
Some unexpected symptoms of perimenopause that you should be aware of include:
- Tinnitus (or ringing in one or both ears)
- Heart palpitations
- Dry mouth and/or dry eyes
- A tingling sensation in the extremities
- Urinary issues
- Mood disorders such as anxiety or depression
- Hair loss
- Gum and tooth problems
- Breast sagging
- Clumsiness and easy bruising
If you’re experiencing atypical or disruptive symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor.
What are heart palpitations?
Heart palpitations can feel like a racing or pounding heart, or like your heart is skipping beats. They can be caused by overexertion, or they can occur seemingly out of nowhere, which can feel quite scary for women when they begin to experience them.
Heart palpitations can sometimes feel like a heart attack or an anxiety attack. The fear of not knowing what is causing the palpitations can make them worse.
If you experience a heart palpitation, sit down somewhere quiet. Reduce the stimulation of lights and noise around you. Take deep breaths in to a count of four, pause, and then exhale slowly to a count of four. Repeat until you are feeling more relaxed.
Speak to your doctor if you experience heart palpitations on a regular basis.
Why it’s important to treat perimenopause
While research about women’s health lags behind that of men’s health, it is known that women have an increased risk of developing numerous chronic illnesses such as diabetes, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and possibly dementia as they age – and menopause seems to be a risk factor.
Fortunately, as Dr. Kavita discusses in her book Lady Parts, there are ways to reduce one’s risk of developing dementia, and managing symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.
Not only is it more comfortable for your peace of mind and your physical health to treat perimenopause, but the long-term benefits of treating your symptoms may be vast.
Also read: The connection between dementia and women
The long-term benefits of hormone replacement therapy
Research has indicated that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can vastly improve a woman’s quality of life by decreasing the discomfort and risks associated with menopausal symptoms.
Studies have indicated that HRT may reduce women’s experience of vaginal dryness, palpitations, insomnia, and hot flashes.
Research indicates that HRT is also linked with improved blood lipid levels, decreased risk of developing diabetes in late adulthood, and fewer hip, spine, and other bone fractures that often occur in late adulthood.
Studies have also contributed data indicating that HRT may greatly decrease a woman’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Learn more about decreasing your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by understanding your APOE4 gene.
Dr. Kavita discusses this research in her book Lady Parts while also exploring the various ways women can manage symptoms of perimenopause, and decrease their risk of developing dementia.
The best way to treat symptoms of perimenopause is to take care of your body: eat well, exercise, and get as much sleep as you can (even if that means adding “nap time” to your busy schedule).
You might also explore supplements to maintain appropriate levels of nutrients, minerals and vitamins in your system.
Taking supplements to manage perimenopause symptoms
At Revivele, we believe that every woman should be given the information they need to prioritize their health, advocate for their needs and take action to prevent the development of possible health concerns like dementia.
Not only do we keep up-to-date on the latest scientific research when it comes to women’s health, and brain health, but we are also gearing up to release our new supplement system: Essentials by Revivele.
Join our mailing list to be the first to know when Essentials by Revivele is available. Sign-up here: https://www.revivele.com/coming-soon
If you’re interested in learning more about how to maintain your health as you age, read our other blogs, which are full of helpful details, research, and woman-to-woman understanding. We’re all in this together!
To learn more about perimenopause and other women’s health issues, be sure to read Dr. Kavita Desai’s new book, Lady Parts: Putting Women’s Health Back Into Women’s Hands, and follow her women’s health & wellness company, Revivele, on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn!