Perimenopause is a term that is used to describe the menopause transition years and is technically defined as “the time from which menses start to become irregular and FSH levels have increased, through until 12 months after the last menstrual bleed.” Symptoms of Perimenopause could be both confusing as well as difficult to spot since they can occur as many as 10 or even 15 years prior to actual menopause.
It is important to determine that the symptoms being experienced are not due to other conditions such as clinical depression, diabetes and hypothyroidism; and that they are in fact symptoms of perimenopause.
The commonly noted symptoms of perimenopause are much the same as actual menopause, only they occur years before the actual onset of menopause.
Symptoms of perimenopause could be hot flashes, night sweats, changes in sexual desire and vaginal lubrication, lack of interest in sex, weight gain, irregular periods, mood swings, feelings of tiredness, memory loss, palpitations, and so on; much the same as menopausal symptoms.
This is because both Perimenopause and menopause are caused by the hormonal changes that are indicative of and control a woman’s fertility.
The main difference between symptoms of perimenopause and menopause is that of frequency and the time that the first of the symptoms are noted –
- Unlike menopause, signs of perimenopause are felt a few, or even many years prior to actual menopause. The first of the symptoms may be noted even by a woman in her 30s, and she may then go on to actually become menopausal at the usual age of about 50. While some women may have symptoms as much as 15 years before actual menopause, others may have them a few years before.
- Not all women experience symptoms of perimenopause; in fact far more women tend to experience menopause symptoms than those of perimenopause. The sort of hormonal changes and imbalances that give rise to perimenopause symptoms don’t occur to most women until they are in their 40’s and so, those women do not experience perimenopause. Sometimes the symptoms could be as mild as to escape even the notice; in other words the symptoms may not be so troublesome as to require attention or assistance.
- Another point of difference between symptoms of perimenopause and menopause is the fact that perimenopause is experienced over many years and the symptoms are experienced intermittently. While a woman may experience some symptoms for perimenopause at a point, she may not then experience them again for a while.
The similarities between the symptoms of both menopause as well as perimenopause are that the severity of both could vary and differ greatly from woman to woman. While some women go though these transitional phases in life barely noting any untoward symptoms or discomfort, others are so badly affected as to require medical intervention.
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The important thing however is to rule out other conditions and properly diagnose the symptoms of perimenopause and to obtain appropriate treatment or make lifestyle changes if required.