Perimenopause. A simple word, with some pretty grim side effects. From the hot flushes, mood swings and sleepless nights to irregular periods, you’d be forgiven for looking for the tell-tale signs that perimenopause is ending.
Unfortunately, whilst the end of perimenopause doesn’t necessarily mean you can wave goodbye to the unpleasant side effects, it does mean you’ve hit a big milestone in your menopause journey.
First, let’s dig a little deeper into perimenopause and what it means before we look at some of the signs that perimenopause is ending.
Perimenopause is a transitional period before the menopause. It can start as early as your mid-30s or as late as your mid-50s and last between several months and a decade.
How will you know it’s started? Well, the hormonal changes happening deep inside the body can make for some emotional and physical side effects, including fatigue, irregular periods, mood swings and hot flashes. Although every individual is different, some women will feel the changes for five years, others may not feel anything at all.
Menopause is defined as one entire year with no period.
Unfortunately, there are no defining elements that could signify the end of perimenopause, and the beginning of menopause. However, here is a list of some tell-tale symptoms that may help you determine where you are on your journey.
Irregular/ infrequent periods
Changes to your usual menstrual cycle is a big indication that something in your body is changing and could signal how close you are to the end of menopause.
Some people might initially experience shorter cycles that happen either more, or less frequently. You may also notice changes to your flow, in that your periods may become heavier, or lighter and you may notice spotting between periods.
Often, the more infrequent and irregular your periods are, the further along the menopause journey you are. If there are sixty days or more between your periods, it is highly likely that you are in the late stages of perimenopause.
Hot flushes are caused by the decline of the estrogen hormone within the body. Again, this symptom is typically associated with the late stages of perimenopause and will affect up to 80% of women.
So, if you experience sudden flushes of heat spreading from your face, though your body it may well be a hot flash, and they usually last for a couple of minutes.
Are you struggling to drift off at night, and get a solid night of uninterrupted sleep? This is a very common problem associated with perimenopause and post-menopause.
Hot flushes that occur at night (known as night sweats) can make you uncomfortable during the night, thus interrupting your beauty sleep, and making it more difficult to get the zzz’s you need to feel refreshed in the morning. This leads us nicely to the next symptom.
If you’re feeling a little more tired than usual and finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate, perimenopause may be the primary culprit.
Those sleepless nights and hot flashes combined with the hormonal changes in your body may leave you feeling exhausted, a little foggy and sometimes irritable.
Some simple lifestyle changes, such as watching your diet and adding some physical exercise into your daily routine can help fight fatigue and may even help to put a spring back in your step.
But remember, your body is going through some pretty remarkable changes right now, it’s important to listen to it and rest when you need to.
As your estrogen levels continue to drop, you may experience vaginal dryness.
This can make the area in and around your vagina feel sore and itchy and may cause pain and discomfort during intercourse.
Unlike other perimenopause symptoms, which can be temporary, vaginal dryness can continue well into menopause and beyond. You could try using lubrication to ease the discomfort, and talk to your doctor about hormonal treatments, such as Bioidentical Hormone therapy.
As soon as twelve months have passed since your last period, you’ve officially hit menopause.
Unfortunately, the lines between perimenopause and early post-menopause are blurry, and there is no identifiable moment that makes the change apparent.
Some of the symptoms you experience during perimenopause may last well into post-menopause, however, the main difference is that your periods are now well and truly over. If you do experience postmenopausal bleeding, it’s important to speak to your doctor to find out the cause.
Everyone’s timeline is a little different, but hopefully, this has helped you identify some of the signs that perimenopause is ending, and how far you are through your menopause journey.
If you are struggling with symptoms, speak to your doctor about the treatment methods available, such as bioidentical hormone therapy which identifies and replenishes the exact hormones your body is deficient in, to help alleviate some of the unpleasant side effects.