Wondering if You’re Experiencing Perimenopause? Here are 14 Signs to Look For.
They are a natural part of life, and among the major changes that women experience: menopause and perimenopause. But that doesn’t mean they can’t catch women by surprise or leave them feeling helpless about what to do as they experience symptoms.
That’s why it’s helpful to understand them and learn to manage expectations as these stages draw near.
The National Stem Cell Institute (NSI), a leading regenerative medicine clinic in the United States, regularly sees the effects that menopause and perimenopause have on women who don’t quite know what to expect. While it’s true that this stage of life can put women at higher risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and other conditions there is plenty that can be done to reduce the risks and help women continue to lead a full and healthy life.
Menopause and Perimenopause Basics
Understanding the difference between menopause and perimenopause is a good place to start.
Perimenopause is generally defined as the time period in which your body begins the shift from producing larger quantities of certain hormones to a gradual reduction. Ovarian function and estrogen production become unpredictable, causing irregular menstruation.
Generally speaking, women become perimenopausal sometime in their 40’s. But women in their 30’s, sometimes even younger, can enter into perimenopause. You can still become pregnant during perimenopause, though chances for pregnancy decline during this period.
During the last one to two years of perimenopause, the drop in estrogen speeds up as the transition into menopause takes place.
Every woman experiences perimenopause differently. For some, the onset of perimenopause can be so gradual that the symptoms go unnoticed for several years. For others, perimenopausal symptoms can develop more quickly and intensely.
Symptoms of perimenopause include:
- Menstruation begins fluctuating between heavier and lighter flow more often
- Periods may be skipped for a few months at a time
- Experiencing breakthrough bleeding between periods
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- The skin flushes red during a hot flash
- Changes in sleep quality
- Gradual weight gain
- A decrease in sex drive
- Vaginal dryness
- The labia and clitoris shrink and become less sensitive
- An increase in urinary tract infections
- Thinning hair and dry skin
- Changes in breast tissue
- Mood swings
- Heart palpitations
- Migraines and frequent headaches
- Poorer concentration
All of these changes during perimenopause occur for a variety of reasons. Female hormones affect many bodily functions besides reproduction. The ebbing of these hormones affects blood flow to the genital area. This ebb also affects glands and organs that control functions such as metabolism, mood regulation, memory, motivation, and body temperature.
Menopause is diagnosed once a woman experiences no menstruation for 12 consecutive months.
Menopause generally occurs between the ages of 44–55. In the United States, the average age is 51. When the ovaries stop egg production and release, and a woman hasn’t experienced a period for 12 consecutive months, she is no longer in perimenopause and has entered menopause.
The physical and hormonal changes that began in perimenopause continue, and may increase, throughout menopause. As mentioned above, the degree of menopause and perimenopause symptoms varies widely from one woman to another.
Some women’s transition through menopause and perimenopause is mild with minimal symptoms. Others experience stronger symptoms. Also, not every woman will experience every symptom of perimenopause or menopause.
Every woman is unique, with a distinctive medical history, genetic makeup, dietary habits, activity level, and life stressors. And all of these play a part in the journey through menopause and perimenopause.
Menopause is generally considered complete when egg production ceases altogether. This process usually occurs for about a year or so. When this happens, women enter their postmenopausal years and, eventually, the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause fade. However, these symptoms can continue for several years after the cessation of egg production.
Health Risks Associated with Perimenopause, Menopause, and Postmenopause
As you enter your menopause years (including perimenopause and postmenopause), your risk for certain diseases and medical complications increase. For example, risks for cardiovascular diseases and bone-related conditions like osteoporosis rise. This is because declines in estrogen levels affect fat accumulation and contribute to bone density loss.
Other developing risks include:
- Lupus or other autoimmune diseases
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Joint pain in knees, foot/ankle, hand/wrist
Approximately 80% of Americans diagnosed with osteoporosis or low bone mass are women. Around half of the female population that is 50 years of age and older will have an osteoporosis-related bone fracture during their lifetimes.
Women who are smokers have been shown to enter perimenopause and menopause earlier than women who don’t smoke. And women who have had hysterectomies generally enter the stages of menopause earlier than women who have not had the procedure.
What You Can Do to Ease Menopause Symptoms and Reduce Disease Risks
As you enter menopause and perimenopause, you can make lifestyle choices that will go a long way in reducing disease risks and easing symptoms that are both physical and mental. The first choice you can make is to not listen to anyone who tells you the symptoms you’re experiencing “aren’t as bad as you’re making them out to be” or, even worse, “aren’t real.” Your body is going through a profound change. Of course, they’re real!
Next, take a look at your dietary habits. There are foods that you can eat that will boost your energy and mood and help you regulate symptoms as your body transitions through perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. Additionally, there are herbal therapies and supplements that help regulate symptoms. If your doctor and you agree to begin hormone therapy, these herbs may also help you reduce the dosages needed.
Be sure to check with your doctor, however, when adding herbal supplements to your medications.
Relief from menopause and preventing risks of disease can also be found through NOT eating certain foods.
What you don’t eat is often as important as what you do. By now, you’re probably well aware of all the usual suspects that adversely affect health whether you’re in perimenopause and menopause or not. Highly process foods, fried foods, foods that are high in sugar, and contain artificial preservatives are all best avoided. The website Every Day Health has good recommendations on what to avoid.
If you tend to live a sedentary lifestyle, changing your activity level can certainly help ease symptoms of perimenopause and go a long way in helping to prevent the health issues that can follow you right into postmenopause. You don’t have to train like an Olympic athlete to gain enormous health benefits, either (though- if your doctor approves- you can if you want to!).
It’s best to choose a physical activity that you enjoy so you’ll stick with it over the years.
All you need is a few activities that make you sweat a little, builds strength and stamina, and increases your heart rate. It’s important to include an activity that’s a strength builder to help keep your bones strong to stave off osteoporosis and fractures.
Some activities, like yoga or tai chi, do all of the above. Healthline.com has some great recommendations for exercises and activities to relieve perimenopause/menopause symptoms and help you stay healthy and strong well into postmenopause.
Don’t forget the importance of quality sleep.
Never forget how important quality sleep is for your health. It becomes even more crucial for women as they enter perimenopause and continue into postmenopause. Quality sleep restores energy, balances hormone levels, keeps cortisol levels controlled, and reduces anxiety or depression.
Most people need seven to nine hours of quality sleep. Women who are perimenopausal often have trouble sleeping, so explore every healthy avenue available to you to regulate hormonal balance. Alcohol, contrary to conventional thought, is not a good choice. It may help you fall asleep, but it is notorious for interfering with sleep cycles later through the night.
Opt for natural methods before resorting to chemical ones.
Before you ask your doctor for a prescription, try more natural alternatives. You may be surprised how well hormone-balancing essential oils like lavender work. And it has been shown over and over again that reading or writing in a journal just before bedtime does wonders to relax the mind. Opt for physical books and handwriting in a journal instead of electronic devices that emit light. These devices tend to excite the brain rather than prepare it for sleep.
Other natural options include:
- Taking magnesium supplements
- A warm bath with Epsom salts just before bedtime
- Keeping your bedroom at a cooler temperature during sleep
- Taking up mind-body practices such as yoga and meditation
Medical-Base Therapies for Menopause and Perimenopause Symptoms
It’s not uncommon for physicians to prescribe drug-based treatments for women as they enter perimenopause, such as hormone replacement therapy or progesterone cream. These treatments mimic or replace the hormones that are in decline during menopause and perimenopause. However, there are risks associated with the use of these treatments. As such, physicians will not have their patients continue treatments like hormone therapy indefinitely.
Hormone therapy risks include:
- Breast cancer
- Heart disease
- Blood clots
- Urinary incontinence
- Dementia and memory loss
These days, many physicians recommend stem cell therapy to their patients for treatment of their perimenopause symptoms. Stem cell therapy, particularly when the patient’s own stem cells are used, does not invite medical risks like those listed above. Stem cells therapy works by stimulating the patient’s own glands that produce the hormones that are in decline during the stages of menopause.
Modern stem cell therapy is minimally invasive and done as an outpatient procedure. It has become a virtually painless procedure that is completed within a few hours, with little to no recovery time afterward.
Exploring Natural Treatments for Menopause
Natural remedies for relieving the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause are often helpful. Even so, it’s important to treat them much as you would any medications prescribed by your doctor. Natural remedies can interact with your medications and even other natural supplements. So be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any natural remedy regimens.
This is particularly important for women who have or have had the following:
- Having gone 6 or more months without any menstrual bleeding or regular cycle, then experiencing spotting. This is because, though rare, spotting after several months of no bleeding at all can be a symptom of a potentially serious condition such as uterine cancer or hyperplasia.
- A history of breast and/or ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or blood clots. If you don’t have a personal history of these but you have a strong family history of any of them, it is recommended that you let your doctor know so that you can be regularly checked.
- Have had a hysterectomy, ovarian dysfunction, or any serious trouble related to your reproductive health.
- You have had side effects when taking hormone replacement therapy drugs, birth control pills, or any prior herbal-based therapies.
Perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause are natural parts of life. In past decades (and even today!) too many women were left with feelings of confusion and distress because such things “just weren’t talked about.” But, today, the conversation about the menopause years is far more open. Understanding and education are the keys to realizing that there are many avenues to perimenopause and menopause relief and continuing to get the most out of life.
About the National Stem Cell Institute
The National Stem Cell Institute (NSI) is a leading regenerative medicine cell clinic based in the United States. NSI specializes in stem cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma therapy. From diseases like diabetes and COPD to injuries of the spine and joints, NSI has helped patients recover from disease, heal from injury, and improve quality of life.
NSI is a fully licensed regenerative medicine facility in the United States that strictly adheres to FDA guidelines. NSI encourages the public to call with any questions regarding stem cell therapy and how it may pertain to any health concerns. Below, NSI offers tips on selecting the right stem cell clinic for you.
What to Look for in a Stem Cell Medical Clinic
When searching for a qualified stem cell therapy center it’s important to remember that not all of them are created equal. Stem cells, when used properly, are your body’s most powerful means for healing that can repair everything from ligaments, tendons, and cartilage to organs including your liver, pancreas and lungs and even neurological tissue like your brain, nerves, and spinal cord.
Unfortunately, the majority of so-called “regenerative medicine clinics” in the world aren’t trained in the latest, most technologically advanced procedures and will, therefore, provide poor results if any.
The good news is the National Stem Cell Institute (NSI) has established the most advanced stem cell and platelet rich plasma procedures on the planet which has drawn patients from all over the world as well as professional athletes and celebrities because they are recognized as the best in the world at stem cell therapy.
What makes NSI Stem Cell the top stem cell clinic in the world is demonstrated in 5 key areas:
1. Highly trained and experienced, board-certified doctors and team members who have performed stem cell procedures on thousands of patients with incredible results.
2. Cutting edge procedures utilizing all that regenerative medicine has to offer for many chronic degenerative conditions.
3. Leading scientific researchers who follow the advanced guidelines to maximize the healing potential of your stem cells and to maintain compliance and ethics
4. Use of only the most potent and viable resource of living, viable stem cells and harvested on the same day. No vial that you can purchase will contain living stem cells. If there is no harvest then there are no stem cells.
5. Post-operative guidance for supporting stem-cell growth including rehabilitation, diet and supplement protocols. NSI is a full-service healthcare center focused on patient outcomes. Stem cell therapy is only one tool used to help improve patients’ lives.
Patients have raved about their experience at NSI Stem Cell Clinics testifying that it was their unique cutting-edge procedures that helped them experience a breakthrough when nothing else worked.
If you want to learn more about NSI Stem Cell Clinics, you can set up a complimentary consultation today to see if you are a candidate. You can contact the National Stem Cell Institute at (877) 278-3623.
* Disclaimer: Individual patient results may vary. As each patient’s problem is different, each treatment must be tailored around your specific needs.