Perimenopause is the transition between child-bearing years and menopause. Pregnancy is still possible because ovulation still does occur, but this is the time when hormone levels begin to fluctuate. The average age that a woman enters perimenopause is 40, and it can last from 8 – 10 years. However, that is just an average; some women begin much earlier, and some much later. It all depends on the individual.
Menopause is when the ovaries stop producing and the menstrual cycle ceases all together. A woman is actually not confirmed to be menopausal until her cycles have ceased for a year. In the United States, the average age for reaching menopause is 51, however many other factors affect when this is, such as genetics and general overall health.
The process of perimenopause to menopause is generally gradual, however there are some factors which can make it more sudden such as:
- Diabetes and other chronic health conditions
- Insulin resistance
- Family history
- Cancer – some cancer drugs cause the ovaries to stop producing hormones
- Hysterectomy – when the ovaries are removed, menopause occurs immediately; when the uterus is removed, but the ovaries remain, menopause will still generally be a little more accelerated
By the time menopause is reached, hormone production will have significantly declined from the younger, child-bearing years and menstruation stops all together. However, in perimenopause, the hormones will fluctuate up and down. Estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and even thyroid levels change.
Normally, the hormones estrogen and progesterone both increase and decrease according to a woman’s cycle and maintain a delicate balance with one another. In early perimenopause, progesterone usually starts to decrease first. Progesterone helps to regulate the cycle; its main job is getting the uterus ready for pregnancy by thickening the uterine wall to prepare it for an egg. If there is no egg, progesterone levels drop, and the lining is discharged via menstruation. As progesterone levels begin to fall in perimenopause, estrogen can begin to spike. This can cause more thickening of the uterine lining and create fibroids and cause endometriosis. Prolonged or heavier periods, and even clotting, may start to occur since these conditions are both fueled by estrogen.
Not only can these hormonal fluctuations produce unpleasant symptoms, but the balance between the two can widen and increase symptoms and/or the extent of how they are experienced. Testosterone gradually decreases beginning at around age 30 and continues to do so as a woman gets older.
It is not uncommon for women to experience depression. A lot of doctors will want to treat this with antidepressants, however most of the time those just treat the symptoms and not the actual cause. There was a study published in the January 10th issue of Jama Psychiatry that was reported by Harvard University’s Women’s Health Watch. There were 172 perimenopausal and early menopausal women who participated between the ages of 45 and 65. These women were followed for six years. One group was given estradiol and intermittent progesterone pills and the other was given a placebo. 32% of the placebo group developed significant clinical depression compared to only 17% of the group taking the hormones.
Not all women will experience symptoms of perimenopause, but some can feel them intensely. There has been research done as to why this is, but so far, nothing has been conclusive. Generally, the healthier someone is, the better they will tolerate these changes, though that isn’t always the case.
Symptoms of Perimenopause
- Trouble sleeping
- Anxiety and depression
- Weight gain
- Hot flashes and/or night sweats
- Inability to concentrate
- Decreased ability to handle stress
- Irregular periods
- Heavier or lighter periods
- Lower energy levels
- Inability to lose weight, even if exercising and eating right
- Loss of muscle tone
- Hair loss
- Changes in hair texture
- Decreased sex drive
- Memory issues
- Joint inflammation
- Vaginal dryness
Hormones are chemical messengers that affect just about every physiological process in the body. They also work synergistically with each other, so if one hormone level is not optimal, others hormones can be affected.
The Providers at Leigh Ann Scott, M.D. Can Help!
Restoring hormonal balance has many positive health benefits, in addition to providing relief from symptoms. Dr. Scott and Nurse Practitioners Elise Lewis and Sue Miller offer extensive laboratory testing to specifically identify which hormones for women might need balancing. This testing also looks at other health markers which provide a whole-body picture so that optimal hormone balance can be achieved. They will prescribe bioidentical hormones that are produced to exacting standards in qualified compounding pharmacies. These products are designed to mirror the hormones produced by the body. It’s better to see a professional as soon as symptoms begin so that Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy can be started, and levels can be monitored, which will drastically reduce symptoms, and provide better quality of life.
The process of aging causes all individuals, regardless of sex, to experience varied and unique symptoms as their hormone levels change over time. Perimenopause (the transition from child bearing years to menopause) and menopause usually occur gradually. However, if a woman has a hysterectomy, symptoms can come on quite suddenly. If the ovaries are not removed, their function will still decrease more quickly because removal of the fallopian tubes can interrupt their blood supply. If the ovaries are removed during the hysterectomy, menopausal symptoms can be much more severe.
The proper way to address this is through an integrated, personalized, comprehensive, and regularly monitored program like the one that we offer for bioidentical hormone replacement for women. Our system incorporates laboratory testing, provider consultation, comprehensive health assessment, medically proven supplements, and professionally compounded bioidentical hormones tailored for your individual needs.
We want you to remain healthy and maintain the optimal balance of all things necessary to assure you that your overall wellness is the best it can possibly be. Our program relies on the expertise of our providers. They will use their training and experience to help you make the best decisions regarding diet, exercise, stress management, hormone balance, and pharmaceutical grade supplements as you work to achieve optimum physical and mental health so that you can lead the active and productive lifestyle that you desire!
The effects of aging and hormone imbalance can be counterbalanced with the right tools, medical guidance, and lifestyle changes. With the assistance of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy for women and proper nutrition, we work with you to sustain a lifetime of wellness and vitality!
Free Phone Consultation With Our New Patient Coordinator
Our providers at Leigh Ann Scott, M.D. are devoted to understanding our patients’ health concerns and symptoms. We use scientific-based protocols to find the root cause of hormonal imbalances, thyroid dysfunction, nutritional deficiencies and more. We believe that spending quality, personalized time with each patient provides the necessary foundation to help you achieve optimal health and wellness. Our system incorporates provider consultation, comprehensive health assessment, and laboratory testing in a warm and caring environment.
Contact our New Patient Coordinator for a Free Phone Consultation. She can explain our protocols and fees in more detail, answer any questions or concerns you have, and explain how our approach can help with hormonal balance, anti-aging, and disease prevention, so that you can enjoy a vibrant and healthy life!
You can reach us by phone at (972) 960-4800, or complete the form below and we will contact you. There is no obligation with this consultation. If you feel we are a good fit for you, our New Patient Coordinator can also get you booked for your first appointment.