How Will I Know When Menopause Is Starting?

Generally, as women reach their 40s and 50s, they start to go through a biological change known as menopause, which is a phase in which the ovaries stop releasing eggs. The most defining external characteristic of menopause is the cessation of menstrual cycles.

It can actually take several years for women to transition completely into menopause. Women go through a phase called perimenopause, which is basically the time in which ovaries make less estrogen and gradually stop releasing eggs. How long this transitionary phase lasts varies from woman to woman and can last as little as a few months or up to the better part of a decade.

Women are considered to have transitioned from perimenopause to menopause when they have gone a full 12 months without having a menstrual cycle.

Signs and Symptoms of Perimenopause

There are several common symptoms that are frequently associated with this natural process, including:

  • Irregular periods
  • Hot flashes
  • Fatigue
  • Diminished sex drive
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Decreased bladder control
  • Breast tenderness
  • Forgetfulness

Irregular periods are probably one of the most common symptoms of perimenopause, but can sometimes indicate that something else is wrong. These symptoms include heavy periods, blood clots, and periods that last longer than normal. It’s important to discuss any irregularities with your OB/GYN so that they can conduct tests to exclude other issues.

For many women, their symptoms aren’t severe enough to seek out medical attention. Other women simply choose to tolerate their symptoms. However, if you are experiencing these symptoms to the point that they are interfering with your life or are causing you concern, then you should make an appointment with your doctor.

Your doctor will be able to provide you with a more definitive opinion while also helping you manage the symptoms. They can also help you come up with a self-care plan that will help you monitor your stress and identify any factors that trigger your symptoms. They can also offer family-planning advice.

Learn More

If you think it’s possible that you’re going through perimenopause, it can be worth it to connect with your OB/GYN and discuss what you’re experiencing. Not only will you have a better understanding about what your body is going through, but you will also be a more empowered patient, which is good no matter what.

For complete obstetric and gynecological care in San Francisco, California, contact Pacific Women’s Obstetrics & Gynecology.

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