Ladies, it will happen to all of us. Menopause.
And if you have an autoimmune disease, you might experience it sooner than other women.
A little while ago on this blog’s companion Facebook Page, a few women expressed interest in learning more about perimenopause, or the transitional time between the end of your reproductive years and menopause.
Today I want to share a few tips I learned from The Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research, Healthline and the Mayo Clinic.
1. You can experience perimenopause symptoms in your mid-30s.
It may seem young, but this transitional phase can sneak up on women and go unnoticed. The symptoms and side effects vary for each woman, so it’s best to talk with your gynecologist who knows your reproductive cycle and health history.
2. Women with autoimmune disease may experience early menopause.
In addition to genetics and chromosome defects, women with thyroid disease or rheumatoid arthritis may experience the start of menopause before age 40, according to Healthline. Chronic inflammation can affect the functioning of the ovaries, and expedite perimenopause.
3. You will notice menstrual irregularity.
Your periods may last more days than usual, or become shorter in duration. Your flow may become heavier or lighter. And, you may skip cycles occasionally. These symptoms usually start occurring in your mid-30s or 40s due to a fluctuation in estrogen levels. Some women start perimenopause as late as age 59. Check with older women in your family. You will likely experience perimenopause around the same time they did, thanks to heredity.
4. Non-menstruation symptoms are common.
As perimenopause progresses toward full menopause, or the end of your menstrual cycles, you may notice vaginal dryness, urinary tract infections, vaginal infections, hot flashes, night sweats, depression, mood swings, headaches, change in libido, weight gain, decrease in bone density, sore breasts, increase in blood pressure, changes in cholesterol levels and insomnia. Whew! Talk with your doctor about treatments for these side effects.
5. You can get pregnant during perimenopause.
As long as you still have a menstrual cycle, you can conceive. Ovulation does become irregular, so you’re less likely to get pregnant, but it is possible. You should still use birth control, if that’s your personal preference, if you aren’t planning on having children.
6. Perimenopause starts earlier for some women due to lifestyle choices and medical procedures.
Women who smoke, have undergone chemotherapy, pelvic radiation treatments for cancer or a partial hysterectomy that left the ovaries in tact, may experience perimenopause sooner than other women.
Perimenopause ends, and menopause begins, when you’ve gone 12 months without a menstrual cycle. Talk with your gynecologist to learn more.
Until next time,
PS: Visit me on Twitter to see what else I’ve been writing about!
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