Do you have irregular or heavy menstrual cycles, sleep disturbances, mood disturbances? Don’t feel quite like your normal self? Do you have memory lapses? Do you seem to have lack of energy and weight gain? How about worse breast tenderness and bloating with your cycle than ever before? Are you 40 something? Welcome to perimenopause!
The transitional years between normal cyclic menstruation and cessation of menses can be the worst part of a woman’s hormonal life. Unfortunately this period of time can easily last 5-7 years. These years are the prelude to menopause, the cessation of all ovarian female hormonal production. Menopause is defined as 1 year of absent menses. Menopause can be difficult for a woman to adjust to but this condition is treatable and well recognized. The Perimenopausal years are difficult to recognize by clinicians, and even more difficult to treat as hormones are are wildly fluctuating. It would be nice if female hormones just gradually declined as women approached menopause, The problem is that these hormones rise and get erratic before they completely fail! The symptoms can vary from patient to patient. Some women are bothered most by hot flashes and sleep disturbances while cyclic mood changes bother a large percentage of patients. Irregular and heavy menstruation also bothers a high percentage of patients. For women with this as their main complaint careful workup is needed to make sure there is no other serious condition masquerading as perimenopausal bleeding.
Your health care provider needs to understand this condition. Many providers simply order a FSH-(blood test for menopause) and when the result is negative they send you on your way. Treatment of the perimenopausal woman requires an understanding of the hormonal fluctuations you are going through and the careful tailoring of treatment to the specific symptoms present and the underlying medical conditions you may have.
Time is precious for all of us. If you are one of the many women who are suffering from the Perimenopausal symptom complex consider seeing your OB-Gyn to get evaluated and consider treatment. Why waste the 40’s. You should make the most of every decade you have!
Dr. Frank DiCenzo