- There are many misconceptions about perimenopause and menopause, and knowing the truth about these two stages of life can better equip you to deal with the symptoms.
- Perimenopause and menopause look different for every woman.
Many women are familiar with menopause as this is the life stage that ends the reproductive years. Most women know to expect mood swings and hot flashes when they enter menopause. Still, not everyone knows what to expect during perimenopause, which is the transitional stage women enter as their bodies begin to produce less estrogen in preparation for menopause.
There are many myths about menopause and perimenopause. Hence, as you approach the end of your childbearing years, it is important to understand the truth about this life stage, so you know what to expect and when to contact your doctor for treatment. Here is the truth about five common perimenopause and menopause myths.
Myth 1: Perimenopause Starts at the Same Age for Every Woman
Every woman goes through five significant stages in life regarding estrogen levels: pre-pubescent, pre-menopause, perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause. Just as women enter puberty at different ages, they also enter perimenopause and menopause at various ages. Perimenopause occurs before menopause and usually lasts a few years, although in some cases, it lasts only a few months. Most women enter perimenopause in their 40s, but some experience this life stage as early as their mid to late 30s.
Myth 2: Women Can’t Get Pregnant During Perimenopause
One of the most common symptoms of perimenopause is irregular menstrual cycles, and many women mistakenly believe that this stage in life signals the end of their reproductive years. The truth is that a woman can get pregnant as long as she has a period, so while the dip in your estrogen levels during perimenopause makes it more difficult to get pregnant, it is still possible.
You should make sure to use some form of birth control until you reach menopause if you do not want to get pregnant. Once you have gone 12 months without a period, you have reached the end of perimenopause and entered menopause.
Myth 3: Women Always Know When They Have Entered Perimenopause
Since perimenopause is a transitional stage, the signs are not always obvious, and many symptoms can be attributed to other causes. It can also be difficult to know if you have started perimenopause because it can begin anywhere from your early 30s to your late 40s. If your symptoms aren’t severe, you may not even speak to your doctor about it. If you do experience severe symptoms and choose to seek medical intervention, your doctor may order a series of hormonal tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Myth 4: Every Woman Experiences the Same Symptoms for Perimenopause
Menopausal women display a wide variety of symptoms. Perimenopausal women are no different. You may only have one or two symptoms while going through perimenopause, or you may check every box. No two women are exactly alike, but you will likely experience at least a few of the following symptoms.
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
- Vaginal dryness
- Decreased sex drive
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Sleep troubles
- Bone loss
Some women also experience a small decline in overall health. Perimenopause can cause cholesterol levels to fluctuate, and depression is more common in this stage of life due to the decrease in estrogen production. To combat these symptoms, many doctors encourage women to adopt healthy lifestyle changes. Consuming a healthy diet filled with nutrient-dense foods and exercising regularly are great ways to keep cholesterol under control. Taking a multivitamin and working to improve the length and quality of your sleep can also help. However, it is important to remember that healthy lifestyle changes are often not enough to fully relieve perimenopause symptoms, and you may still need to seek medical intervention.
Myth 5: Hormones Are the Only Way To Treat Perimenopause Symptoms
Hormone therapy remains the most effective treatment for women who are going through perimenopause or menopause. Because these two life stages are caused by a change in estrogen hormone level, replacing the lost hormones can often alleviate symptoms. Many doctors prescribe low-dose birth control pills for this reason. However, hormone therapy is not an option for every woman, so there are other methods of treating perimenopause symptoms.
Some antidepressants and seizure medications have proven to be effective for relieving hot flashes and mood swings. Doctors can also prescribe estrogen creams to relieve vaginal dryness. Because there are different treatments available, it is important to speak with your doctor about your symptoms to find the one that is best for you.
Most women don’t look forward to going through menopause, but it is unavoidable. Knowing what to expect can help you recognize the symptoms early so you can find a treatment that works to relieve your symptoms. There are many misconceptions about perimenopause so arm yourself with the truth and partner with a great doctor to help you deal with the symptoms. If you live in Shreveport, Louisiana, Dr. Catherine Vanderloos is happy to help you navigate life in perimenopause and debunk common myths surrounding this stage of life. Contact us online or call (318) 865-4333 to schedule an appointment.
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