Some of the most commonly reported symptoms include hot flashes and night sweats. These can be associated with flushing and may be followed by intense sweating.
Other symptoms that are related to lowering of estrogen levels include
- vaginal dryness,
- painful sexual intercourse (dyspareunia), and
- vaginal irritation or itching.
Other symptoms include
- Frequent urination
- Changes in skin texture
- Mood swings and changes
Menopause is the time of life at which a woman's menstrual periods stop. The
medical definition of
menopause is the time at which a woman has not had a
menstrual period for
12 consecutive months.
- The time around this point of
menopause has been referred to as the
perimenopause. There is no strict medical definition of perimenopause, but it
typically refers to the time approaching menopause during which a woman starts
to develop symptoms of declining estrogen levels.
- Some of the symptoms of perimenopause include
- Not all women experience all the symptoms of perimenopause to the same
degree, and symptoms vary among women.
- Treatment of perimenopausal symptoms includes
hormone therapy and lifestyle
measures such as diet, exercise, and smoking cessation.
- Estrogen therapy may decrease the severity of symptoms of perimenopause.
How does the menstrual cycle work?
Every woman is endowed at birth with a set number of eggs within each ovary.
As she enters adolescence, the higher brain centers that are responsible for the
onset of puberty begin to mature and function in a coordinated fashion.
Menstrual cycles begin and once a month, one of the ovaries releases an egg,
which may be fertilized if intercourse occurs during the days when the egg is
viable. If fertilization does not occur, the egg, which is composed of a
single cell, degenerates and dies within the abdominal cavity. Without
fertilization of the egg, the uterine lining is shed off approximately two weeks
after ovulation (i.e. release of an egg by the ovary). This cycle is
repeated monthly unless a pregnancy is conceived. As a woman ages, her
ovaries begin to run out of eggs. At this point ovulation may
become erratic. This results in irregular bleeding episodes that may be
heavy and unpredictable.
Throughout the normal menstrual cycle, hormones are produced from the ovaries
in a rather precise sequence. This can cause numerous side effects (for
example, menstrual cramps,) which may or may not be predictable. As the
ovaries become depleted of eggs and bleeding episodes become more erratic, there
are alterations in the quantity and frequency of ovarian hormone production,
which can lead to numerous physical manifestations. The time period when the
depletion of ovarian eggs results in irregular bleeding and other related
symptoms has been termed "perimenopause."
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/5/2016