Are you often having difficulty sleeping? Are you having irregular menstrual cycles or no period? Are you experiencing what feels like hot flashes or night sweats? The average age for women to go into menopause is 51 years old. According to studies, most women experience menopause between the ages of 40 to 58 years old. That is a span of 18 years during which a woman might not be in menopause but may be experiencing the perimenopausal state which leads up to being in menopause.
Dr. Shannon Wood Gallegos, of Urban Medicine, calls perimenopause “chaos,” because even with an increase in awareness and interest in studying and understanding this important hormonal time for women everywhere, there is no way to predict when the perimenopause phase will begin for a woman or how long it will last. There can be “chaos” because there are many different symptoms, sometimes unique to each woman. Dr. Shannon recommends keeping a menstrual calendar which can be easily shown to a health practitioner. Also, seeking a health practitioner that specializes in women’s health is key to having your questions answered about the symptoms or health problems you are having.
If you are experiencing menstrual cycle issues, an onset of hot flashes (feeling a warm sensation usually most intense on your face like blushing, neck or chest, sometimes followed by chills) but are in your early 30s, you might discover you are in fact going into perimenopause early. Doctors are noticing an increase in the number of women in their 30s found to be perimenopausal.
The perimenopausal phase may last for 4 to 8 years and is a gradual transition to menopause. There isn’t just one test or sign that determines you are perimenopausal, but tests measuring estrogen and other hormone levels, along with a comprehensive look at your medical history, symptoms and the possible causes. Thyroid problems can also cause irregular menstrual periods or perimenopause-like symptoms.
Seeing a doctor who can rule this out is essential. A health practitioner, such as a Naturopathic Doctor at Urban Medicine, can help unravel what is causing your hormonal chaos and offer solutions that will work for your particular health situation, such as bioidentical hormone therapy (this will be a future blog topic!), along with nutritional and herbal supplement support.
The topsy-turvy aspects of perimenopause can be addressed with a focus on hormone health, nutrition, reduction and management of stress, and mindful exercise. All of this will help improve your sleep and decrease the chaotic symptoms of perimenopause, letting you enjoy your daily life!