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What is the difference between menopause and perimenopause? 

The phrases “menopause” and “perimenopause” are commonly used interchangeably, however, they refer to two distinct stages in a woman’s life.

Difference between perimenopause and menopause

Perimenopause and menopause are normal and natural stages that affect women in their forties and fifties as they approach the end of their reproductive lives. The word “peri” is derived from a Greek word that means “around.” This is the period just before menopause, but before you go through it. Menstrual cycles become irregular and fertility declines during perimenopause, which many women experience in their forties, however conceiving a child is still possible at this stage.

When you haven’t had your monthly period for 12 months, you’ve reached menopause. You may experience spotting, infrequent periods, or unpredictable bleeding in the months leading up to menopause, all of which are signs that you’re not quite there yet.

Menopause is normally a gradual process, although it might happen quickly if your ovaries are surgically removed. Menopause occurs naturally between the ages of 45 and 55, with an average age of 51.


Symptoms of perimenopause and menopause 

When it comes to menopause/perimenopause, most women are more concerned with the symptoms than with anything else. These can include the dreaded hot flashes, but you may also notice a variety of other changes around this time.


Perimenopause symptoms

Perimenopause symptoms can include:

  • Irregular periods
  • Periods that are longer or shorter than usual
  • Severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Soreness in the breasts
  • Weight gain
  • Headaches
  • Low sex drive
  • Issues with concentrating
  • Forgetfulness
  • Muscular pains
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Issues with fertility


Menopause symptoms

As oestrogen levels decline, you may begin to experience menopause symptoms. Some of these symptoms can appear while you’re still in perimenopause.

  • Night sweats
  • Hot flashes
  • Low mood
  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Mood changes
  • Sleep issues
  • Tiredness
  • Dehydrated skin
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Frequent urination


Treatments for perimenopause and menopause

Menopause and perimenopause symptoms can range from moderate to severe. Simple lifestyle modifications can help alleviate side effects in the near run for more mild symptoms. Some of these lifestyle adjustments that can be implemented include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a consistent sleep-wake pattern, and eliminating stressors in your life.

However, because perimenopause and menopause are characterised by hormonal imbalances, lifestyle adjustments will only help to a certain extent. Bioidentical hormone replacement is a recommended therapy option (BHRT). Unlike traditional HRT, BHRT supplies the specific hormones that your body lacks.

A medical practitioner for BHRT treatment would evaluate your hormone levels, and any specific anomalies would be detected via a comprehensive blood test analysis. This test will also reveal any vitamin deficiencies that may exist.

Bioidentical hormones, which are chemically identical to your body’s hormones and beneficial in easing the distressing symptoms of menopause with no harmful side effects, are then synthesised.


Home remedies to help alleviate symptoms

There are some things you may do at home to help with your symptoms.

Exercise can help you with your mood, weight gain difficulties, and even (ironically) hot flashes. Make a conscious effort to incorporate some type of physical activity into your everyday routine. Just avoid exercising right before bedtime, as this might exacerbate insomnia.

When you have insomnia, getting enough sleep can seem impossible. Before going to bed, do something calming like moderate yoga or a warm bath. Daytime naps should be avoided since they can interfere with your capacity to sleep at night.

You can also try the following methods to alleviate symptoms:

  • Keep a close eye on your nutrition and avoid eating huge meals
  • Quit smoking
  • Alcohol should only be consumed in moderation
  • Caffeine should be consumed in limited amounts and only in the morning


The takeaway

Both perimenopause and menopause are phases that signal the end of your reproductive years. There are modifications to be made, but keep in mind that not everything is terrible. With the likes of BHRT and home remedies available, you’ll be able to go through these stages more easily and with a little more flexibility.

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