Perimenopause is the precursor to menopause. It can last for years or, conversely, not long at all. It all depends on the woman. During perimenopause, a woman still has her menstrual periods, but they may become a little sketchy. You may miss one here or there or have an extremely heavy flow or an extremely light one. Your hormones are entering the land of flux. Oestrogen levels may plummet or skyrocket. Progesterone production is decreasing. The change in your hormone levels will affect your menstrual periods.
During perimenopause, a woman will probably experience increasing amenorrhoea, which is the lack of a menstrual period. She may skip a month of two. Amenorrhoea occurs because the body is gradually segueing into a time when there will be no menstrual periods at all. According to the Journal of Women's Health, irregular menstrual periods are associated with higher follicular stimulating (HFS) hormones as well as being a predictor of oncoming menopause.
In addition to the changes in the regularity of your menstrual period, you may also notice a change in the duration of your period, the amount of blood flow and the level of discomfort.
When You Should Talk to Your Doc
According to Dr. Andrew M. Kaunitz of Medscape.com, bleeding patterns will change during the perimenopausal phase. This, in and of itself, it not an indicator that something is wrong. However, if your bleeding becomes excessive, consult with your physician. An endometrial evaluation should be done, according to Dr. Kaunitz. In addition, if you are regularly having periods that are only three weeks, or less, apart then this is associated with intermenstrual bleeding or bleeding in between the regular period.
If you are a woman of a certain age and think that you have entered the realm of perimenopause, there are certain things which will require a trip to the doctor's, according to Aol Health (See References 3). If you bleed after intercourse, inform your doctor. If your periods are lasting far longer than they normally did, you may want to point this out to your physician. If you are undergoing hormone therapy (HRT) and your cycle has completely changed, this should be looked into. If you are experiencing flooding, this can cause anaemia (iron deficiency). Inform your doctor of this condition.
Another interesting aspect of perimenopause, in addition to the unpredictable bleeding pattern, is that you may experience rampant PMS symptoms for the first time or find yourself having symptoms that you haven't had since you were in your early teens. Your breasts may become tender and sore (hormones!). You may also find yourself cramping before a period, although you never did before.
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