Perimenopause or menopause are the natural stages of a female’s life. Although these are characterised by bothersome symptoms, the clarity of their difference can lead to making informed choices about tackling symptoms.
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Menopause is described as a key turning point in a woman’s life that comes with a number of emotional and physical changes. But before reaching this stage, females go through a transitional phase named perimenopause.
The body of a woman experiences hormonal changes during this time as it gets ready for the eventual end of menstrual cycles. Since these two stages are interrelated, understanding their distinctions can empower women with knowledge and promote a better understanding of their bodies.
What is Menopause?
Menopause is the term used to describe the normal biological process that signals the permanent cessation of a woman’s menstrual cycles and capacity for reproduction.
The production of oestrogen and progesterone hormones declines as menopause approaches because the ovaries gradually release fewer eggs. Due to this change, menstrual cycles become less frequent and eventually come to a complete halt. Medically, menopause is confirmed when a woman has not experienced menstruation for 12 consecutive months.
The Span of Menopause
Menopause often begins between the ages of 45 and 55. Although it usually lasts seven years, can possibly take as long as fourteen years. The length of this period may differ according to lifestyle factors including smoking, race, and ethnicity.
What is Perimenopause?
It is a transitional phase in a female’s life that precedes menopause. Perimenopause brings some hormonal fluctuations and changes in her reproductive system. Although it can happen as early as the late 30s, it typically starts in a woman’s forties.
During perimenopause, the main female sex hormone, oestrogen, is gradually produced less by the ovaries. This hormonal change can lead to irregular menstrual cycles as the ovaries may not release an egg every month. Menstrual flow may also change in intensity during this time.
Duration of Perimenopause
This period of transition may extend from a few months to many years. However, the average interval of perimenopause is almost four years. As the function of the ovaries declines further, women reach menopause, defined as the complete cessation of menstrual period.
A healthcare professional should be consulted if you are exhibiting any of these symptoms and believe you may be in perimenopause to receive an accurate diagnosis and advice on how to effectively manage symptoms.
Also Read: Signs That Perimenopause Is Ending
Symptoms of Perimenopause and Menopause
Due to the decline of oestrogen and progesterone levels during perimenopause, women may experience some symptoms that can last till their menopause ends. However, their intensity may vary.
Here we highlight some common signs of both phases:
Irregular Menstrual Cycles
Changes in the menstrual cycle brought on by perimenopause include shorter or longer cycles, missed periods, and variations in flow.
Hot flashes and Night Sweats
Hot flashes and hot flashes, also known as sudden waves of heat, are frequent during perimenopause and menopause. They can disturb sleep by causing flushing, perspiration, and night sweats.
Mood Swings and Emotional Changes
Hormonal fluctuations during transitional phases can lead to mood swings, irritability, increased anxiety, and feelings of sadness or depression.
Decrease in Libido and Sexual function
Low oestrogen levels during perimenopause can affect sexual desire, and arousal, and lead to vaginal dryness and discomfort during intercourse.
Sleep Disturbances and Fatigue
Sleep patterns can be disturbed by hormonal changes, which can make it difficult to get to sleep or stay asleep. The sleep disturbances caused by night sweats lead to fatigue, daytime sleepiness, and a loss of energy.
Joint Pain and Muscle Aches
The ovaries produce less oestrogen during menopause. It helps keep the cartilage in your joints healthy and lubricated. As oestrogen levels drop, your joints’ cartilage may begin to deteriorate causing pain and stiffness.
Besides the above symptoms, other signs may include:
- Increased wrinkles or dryness of the skin.
- Hair changes, thinning, or increased hair loss.
- Breast tissue changes or breast tissue tenderness.
- Gaining weight or altering one’s body’s composition.
- Muscle and joint pain.
- Increased urgency or frequency in the urine.
- Lapses in memory or difficulties focusing.
What are the Worst Menopause Symptoms?
Although all menopause symptoms are bothersome, here we picked up the most annoying symptoms that can give you a tough time. Let’s have a look:
Night Sweats and Hot Flashes: These are sudden feelings of heat that can make a woman flush, perspire, and feel lightheaded. They can happen day or night, and they can be very upsetting.
Vaginal dryness: This can make it uncomfortable to urinate and hurt during sex.
Sleep Issues: Many women find it challenging to get to sleep during menopause due to hot flashes and nocturnal sweats.
Mood Changes: Some women experience anxiety, despair, or mood fluctuations during menopause.
Cognitive Changes: During menopause, some women have memory, concentration, or decision-making issues, making the menopause journey challenging.
What Signals the End of Menopause?
Since we have shed light on the trouble side of menopause, it’s time to embrace some good news because some of your annoying symptoms will ease as you approach the end of your menopause. This phase is known as postmenopause and defines the ending point of the menopause timeline.
Following are some symptoms that may become less severe once menopause is over:
- Your hot flashes and nocturnal sweats will become less frequent and intense.
- Your vaginal dryness may improve.
- Your sleep issues might get better.
- Your mood may start to stabilise.
- Possibly, energy levels will start to rise.
You should also consider some additional information about the end of menopause, because the more you know, the better you proceed with the journey.
Here are some important pointers to note:
- Menopause typically starts at age 51, but it can start as early as age 40 or as late as age 60.
- Even years after your periods have stopped, menopause symptoms can persist.
- Menopause symptoms can be reduced by a variety of drugs and way-of-life adjustments.
- It is crucial to discuss with your doctor any menopausal symptoms you may be having.
Menopause Vs Perimenopause
The main distinction between perimenopause and menopause is that the latter is when a woman’s period stops permanently whereas perimenopause is the time leading up to it.
Let’s explore perimenopause vs menopause in the following table:
|Definition||The phase of transition before menopause.||The phase when a woman’s periods end permanently.|
|Age||Commonly starts in a woman’s 40s.||Medically diagnosed when a woman has gone 12 months without having her period.|
|Symptoms||Irregular periods, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood swings, fatigue, weight gain.||Night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood swings, weight gain, memory issues, and joint pain.|
|Treatment||Hormone therapy, lifestyle changes, and over-the-counter medications.||Hormone therapy, dietary modifications, and prescription medications.|
Although they can overlap, menopause and perimenopause symptoms are not usually the same. For instance, not all women go through menopause or perimenopause with hot flashes or night sweats.
For women’s health, it is essential to comprehend the differences between perimenopause and menopause. The period just before menopause is known as perimenopause and is characterised by a number of symptoms while menopause signifies the final phase of fertility and menstruation.
During both phases, symptoms such as irregular cycles, hot flashes, mood swings, and libido changes may appear. It is vital to seek support from healthcare professionals to get guidance on symptom management and treatment options. Don’t forget to prioritise self-care and take proactive measures during this phase.
If You Need Further Guidance Regarding the Perimenopause and Menopause Stages, Get in Touch with Bioid Professionals Today! Your Health matters!
How do you know if you’re in menopause or perimenopause?
By observing the absence of menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months, you can determine if you’re in menopause while perimenopause is indicated by irregular periods and other symptoms.
Are symptoms worse in perimenopause or menopause?
It is challenging to say whether one stage of menopause is consistently worse than the other because symptoms during perimenopause and menopause can vary in severity.
What are the 3 stages of menopause?
Perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause are the three phases of menopause.
What are the first signs of perimenopause?
Irregular periods and changes in flow can be the first indications of perimenopause.
What is the right age for perimenopause?
The right age for perimenopause can vary, but it typically starts in a woman’s 40s.
How can I test myself for perimenopause?
Self-diagnosis of perimenopause is not conclusive because at-home test kits that measure hormone levels only produce qualitative information rather than a precise diagnosis.