Menopause and perimenopause are both NORMAL transitions in our lives. Perimenopause, or the time before between regular cycles and predictable hormones, and the point of 1 year after the last period, can take up to 10 years! For some women, not much changes, but many do experience symptoms, which can range from irregular bleeding, weight gain, sleep problems, low libido and mood changes to the more well known hot flashes and night sweats. We believe it is important to understand these changes and the many options we have to stay healthy and get healthy throughout this transition. As a board certified gynecologist, NAMS menopause practitioner, AND integrative medicine physician, I am thrilled to help women navigate this transition with the range of options including lifestyle medicine, supplements, and hormone therapy if needed.
Perimenopause refers to the time period between predictable and regular menstrual cycles and when we are officially "IN" menopause - that is 1 full year after the last menstrual period. On average, the last menstrual period occurs at age 51-52 and about 1.3 million women in the US enter menopause each year.
PERImenopause, the transition period between regularly changing hormones, and menopause, can be up to 10 years. Many women may not realize that symptoms they feel even in their early or mid 40s, or sometimes earlier, may actually be perimenopause.
The transition of perimenopause and menopause can be very individual, with some women sailing through it without much notice, and some experiencing significant changes.
The symptoms depend on where we are along this transition: early perimenopause is often marked by shorter cycles, heavier and irregular bleeding, breast pain, weight gain, and worsening PMS and mood symptoms with some sleep disruption.
This is typically the result of erratic and sometimes high estrogen levels and declining progesterone. Later perimenopause will often result in the more typically recognized symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, and vaginal dryness, signaling low estrogen.
In our practice, we first recognize that menopause is a NORMAL transition. It is not a disease - rather, it is an important time in our life when we are presented with an opportunity to understand our bodies and take control of our health.
As a gynecologist, integrative medicine physician, NAMS-certified menopause practitioner, and a woman in perimenopause herself, I use both traditional menopause medicine, like hormone therapy, and integrative medicine tools of nutrition, mind-body approaches and science-based herbal supplements, to help you thrive into the next vibrant phase of life. You can find more on my philosophy on the transition to menopause in this blog post