Menstruation is a major part of womanhood. Once a female starts having her period, it indicates her ability to conceive a child. Women start having menstruation at different ages, and signs appear signaling her transition to womanhood.
On the other hand, menopause is the opposite of menstruation. It signifies the end of a woman’s fertility period. Like menstruation, several signs also show up prior to menopause including physical and emotional changes. As one menopausal woman puts it, the transition from a menstrual to a menopausal woman is a “one wild ride”.
Menopause seems to be dreaded by many women, as it also means entering their senior years. It is a biological process that all women will go through. However, menopause should not be something to be scared of. Rather, this phase can even empower women more than ever.
Meanwhile, it was also mentioned earlier that several signs and symptoms appear before menopause occurs. These transitional periods are called premenopause and perimenopause, which we also need to understand better as women.
The Difference Between Premenopause and Perimenopause
Premenopause and perimenopause are often interchanged. While these two are thought to be similar, they are technically different. Pre-menopause means “before” or “prior to” menopause, while perimenopause means “nearing” menopause.
Premenopausal women mostly experience no symptoms of menopause. They will still have their periods and experience some hormonal changes. On the other hand, perimenopausal women experience more visible menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, period cycle changes, and so on.
Signs and Symptoms
During the premenopausal period, hormonal levels may naturally fluctuate. Women may also not experience symptoms related to estrogen loss. Thus, women may still experience their usual period cycles and other symptoms such as menstrual cramps, mood swings, nausea, irritability, a feeling of bloating, and tender breasts.
On the other hand, perimenopause may occur as early as 10 years before a woman transitions into menopause. It may also occur in women in their 30’s to 40’s, the time when estrogen production declines and ushering menopause in women.
A woman can still get pregnant even if she is her perimenopausal period because eggs can still be released, albeit in irregular intervals. Nonetheless, the level of estrogen may unevenly rise and fall during the perimenopausal period. Likewise, the perimenopausal woman may experience symptoms similar to menopause.
Among common perimenopausal symptoms include dry skin, hair thinning or loss, hot flashes, insomnia, sweating at night, mood swings, frequent urinating, dryness in the vaginal area, changes in cholesterol level, a decrease in sexual libido, osteoporosis, weight gain.
On the other hand, an irregular period is also a common perimenopausal symptom. However, if you are experiencing heavy bleeding that lasts more than a week and your cycle starts less than 21 days apart, it may signify some reproductive system issues. In such cases, it is better to consult your doctor immediately.
Managing Premenopause and Perimenopause
Like menopause, premenopause and perimenopause should not cause fear in you. As mentioned, these are naturally-occurring biological process among women that can easily be managed via at-home and medical methods.
As mentioned, premenopausal women may still experience their usual menstrual symptoms including cramps. In such cases, over-the-counter pain treatments and heating pads can help alleviate menstrual cramps. Likewise, using oral contraceptive pills can also help reduce discomfort and pain during premenopause periods.
Some women may experience heavy bleeding and cramps due to irregular periods. In such cases, a low-dose oral contraceptive pill can help treat these issues. More so, birth control pills can also help reduce the effects of declining hormone levels such as osteoporosis and risks of ovarian cancer.
To help relieve or prevent hot flashes, it is advised to avoid spicy foods, hot beverages, and staying in areas with colder temperatures as much as possible. Wearing more comfortable clothing can also help alleviate symptoms of hot flashes, as well as drinking cold drinks and breathing deeply and slowly.
Estrogen medications in pill, patch, or cream form may also be recommended by doctors to reduce symptoms of hot flashes. However, estrogen medications may also increase the risk of some cancers. That is why it is important to take the smallest dose to prevent such risks.
On the other hand, perimenopausal women can also take antidepressants or serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to alleviate symptoms. Nonetheless, it is best to ask your OB-GYN to determine which medication will suit your body best and prevent complications.
Positivity During Premenopause and Perimenopause
Some women may not be looking forward to getting older. However, all women will experience the stages of menopause, whether we like it or not. Moreover, undergoing through these stages should not be something to be afraid of. Rather, there are many ways of dealing with it. Better yet, all women should face menopause with positivity and a chance to live life to the fullest.