Perimenopause & Menopause

Perimenopause is a stage in a woman's reproductive life that begins several years before menopause when the ovaries gradually begin producing less estrogen. It usually starts in a woman's 40s, but in some can begin in their 30's. The average length of perimenopause can vary. For some women this stage may last only a few months, or continue for a number of years. In the last one to two years of perimenopause, the decline in estrogen accelerates. At this stage, many women experience menopausal symptoms. Perimenopause ends when a woman has gone 12 months without having her period.

Menopause begins when the ovaries stop releasing eggs. For some women, transitioning into menopause may produce symptoms that include: hot flashes, breast tenderness, a decrease in sex drive (libido), fatigue, irregular periods, vaginal dryness or discomfort during sex, urinary leakage or urgency, mood swings, or difficulty sleeping.

Menopause is the absence of menstrual periods for 12 months. The transition starts with varying menstrual cycle length and ends with the final menstrual period. Because menopause is the time in a woman's life when the function of the ovaries ceases, and the ovaries are the main source of female hormones such as estrogen, a woman can develop osteoporosis (thinning of bone) later in life when her ovaries do not produce adequate estrogen.

Can you help yourself during perimenopause and menopause? Yes! You may feel better if you try to enhance your general well-being with exercise, discontinuing smoking if you currently smoke, try to get more sleep and try going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day, decrease your alcoholic intake, and maintaining adequate fluid intake. Talk to Dr. Shalita about proper nutrition, vitamins, or other forms of supplementation. You may also want to discuss the use of hormonal or non-hormonal forms of supplementation. 

Do not hesitate to discuss being overwhelmed with work/family life, emotional changes such as mild depression, mood swings, changes in sexual intimacy and similar challenges with Dr. Shalita. Women's health issues and low libido can be complex issues during hormonal changes and can negatively impact self-esteem and self-confidence. Sharing what is happening can help to open the doors to better medical intervention if necessary.