Perimenopause

What is perimenopause?

Perimenopause occurs because the ovaries run low on eggs or follicles. The menstrual cycle may become irregular, and cause complex changes within the ovaries, brain and uterus.

Many women feel the changes and feel different.  Every woman has her own individual pattern, some more severe than others.

During this transition, women may also experience menopausal-like symptoms.

Perimenopause begins with the onset of irregular periods and/or symptoms and finishes 12 months after the final menstrual period.

Symptoms

Mood changes

  • Sore breasts
  • Bloating
  • Headache / migraine
  • Hot flushes / sweats
  • Tiredness – increasing
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain
  • Forgetfulness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Reduced capacity to cope with daily activities

Your periods may also change, becoming:

  • Infrequent and lighter
  • Irregular in pattern
  • Irregular in flow – e.g. heavier than normal / with clots
  • More painful

What can I do?

There is no test to determine when your period will finish. Hormone levels can swing enormously during perimenopause so cannot indicate if eggs will be released or not.

It is important to:

  • Use contraception until 12 months after your last period
  • Increase healthy eating habits
  • Increase physical activity
  • Seek help if concerned about how you feel
  • If necessary, discuss therapies with your health practitioner

When should I see my health practitioner?

  • If your symptoms are interfering in the quality of your life
  • If you are bleeding between periods or after intercourse
  • If you have distressful premenstrual symptoms
  • If your periods are:
    • Heavier than normal
    • Increase in pain

What therapies are available?

  • Combined oral contraceptive pill (if you are at low risk, e.g. non-smokers, normal blood pressure)
  • Hormone therapy
  • Mirena intra-uterine device – IUD (for heavy bleeding)
  • Natural therapies (see an accredited naturopath)

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