What is the difference between Perimenopause, Menopause and Post menopause?

It is important to know the causes of menopause and the symptoms to understand what is happening to your body. Knowing what is happening can help you take care of your health and feel more confident in your day-to-day life. If you are experiencing any symptoms and want to know if they are due to perimenopause, menopause, or postmenopause then you would want to read about these symptoms and causes.

What is the difference between Perimenopause, Menopause and Post menopause?

What is Perimenopause?

Perimenopause is a transitional stage that most women go through about 3-5 years before menopause. This is when the ovaries stop producing eggs and hormone levels will fluctuate. Women will experience fluctuations in their menstrual cycle, changes in mood and sleep patterns, hot flashes, weight gain or loss, and vaginal dryness. It usually starts in a woman's 40s, but can also start in their 30s as well or even earlier in certain circumstances.

The Perimenopause conditions last until menopause starts and at this stage, many women start to feel the menopause symptoms. Perimenopause typically ends when women have gone 12 months without having their period.

What are the symptoms of Perimenopause?

Some women in perimenopause may also experience menopausal symptoms, such as:

  • Irregular Period
  • Fatigue
  • Mood Swings
  • Trouble finding sleep
  • A lower sex drive
  • Hot flashes and night sweats
  • Breast tenderness
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Urine leakage
  • Urinary urgency
  • Bad premenstrual tension (PMS syndrome)

Irregular periods are very common in the perimenopausal period. But, there can be other causes of abnormal bleeding besides those found in this period. If any of these apply to you, talk to your doctor to make sure it's not due to something else:

  • During your period, you have blood clots.
  • Your period lasts longer than usual.
  • You spot between periods.
  • The laps time between your period is short.
  • You have spotting after sex.

Perimenopause - Can You Get Pregnant In the Perimenopausal Stage?

Yes, you can get pregnant in your perimenopausal stage, despite a drop in the fertility level.

For some women in their late 30s to early 40s, getting pregnant can be difficult. Understanding the treatment options for fertility could help increase the chances of conceiving a child.

Perimenopause - Treatment

Many women find relief from symptoms of vasomotor symptoms (VMS) after taking low-dose birth control pills for a short time. The other options that might assist with these symptoms include the birth control skin patch, vaginal ring, or progesterone injections. Talk to your doctor about whether hormonal birth control is the right choice for you before trying.

You might also want to try taking care of your general well-being by doing things such as:

  • Stop Smoking
  • Have fewer or no alcoholic drinks
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting more sleep
  • Weight Control
  • Have a good calcium diet
  • Taking Multivitamin

Other treatments available that can help with the symptoms of perimenopause include antidepressant medications for mood swings and depression Let your doctor know what treatments you want. This will help to draft the perfect plan for you.

What is Menopause?

Menopause is a natural period in the life of a woman. It happens when the ovaries stop making the female hormone estrogen and progesterone, which are necessary for reproduction. This condition happens when your periods have completely stopped for 1 whole year.

Menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, but the minimum average age is 51. However, a woman may experience menopause before turning 40. This is known as premature menopause. The age at which the menopause period will start for a woman is typically determined by her genes.

What are the symptoms of Menopause?

The first sign of menopause is often an irregular menstrual cycle. When it gets off-schedule, it should stop within 4 years round. You might notice several vasomotor symptoms (VMS) like hot flashes and night sweats. Other common symptoms of menopause include:

  • Sweating
  • Heart racing
  • Headaches
  • Weight Gain
  • Thinning Hair and dry skin
  • Loss of breast fullness
  • Trouble with sleep
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Lower sex drive
  • Painful sex

Always seek medical advice if you have bleeding from your vagina after menopause.

What are the main causes of Menopause?

Menopause is a natural stage in a woman's life. However, there can be other factors that can lead to the menopause stage. They include:

  • Naturally decline in Reproductive Hormones - As you get older, your hormone levels change. Your ovaries produce less estrogen and progesterone which affects your menstrual cycle and also impacts fertility.

  • Surgery such as the Oophorectomy - A surgery to remove the ovaries will result in instant menopause

  • Chemotherapy and Radiation therapy - Chemotherapy and Radiation therapy are treatments that are often used to stop the spread of cancerous cells. They work by destroying cancer cells or by stopping them from dividing. However, this can have a prompt menopause effect.

  • Primary Ovarian Insufficiency - Primary ovarian insufficiency is a condition in which the ovaries do not produce enough eggs. It is caused by reduced function in the follicles, or egg-producing cells, of the ovaries. This condition is also known as "late onset" fertility and sometimes as a primary ovarian failure.

Menopause - Treatment

Menopause is normal and requires no medical treatment. Instead, treatments help relieve your signs and symptoms as well as prevent or manage chronic conditions that are more likely to occur with age. Treatments can vary from person to person and may include:

  • Hormone Therapy - Hormone therapy such as estrogen therapy is an effective treatment option to provide relief from menopausal hot flashes.

  • Vaginal Estrogen - Estrogen can be administered directly into the vagina to provide relief from vaginal dryness.

  • Low-dose antidepressants - Certain antidepressants such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can help to provide relief from menopausal hot flashes.

  • Clonidine - A pill that typically helps to treat high blood pressure and which can also provide relief from hot flashes.

  • Medication for Osteoporosis - Depending on individual needs, doctors may suggest that their patients take medication to prevent or treat osteoporosis. Your doctor might also advise you to take vitamin D supplements to strengthen your bones.

Menopause - Self Homecare

Menopause is a topic that affects many women and fortunately, the symptoms are temporary. Here are some tips to help to reduce and prevent the effect of menopause:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Strengthen your pelvic floor
  • Practice relaxation techniques.
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Don't smoke and drink alcohol
  • Cool down hot flashes
  • Decrease vaginal discomfort

What is Postmenopause?

Postmenopause is the stage that is followed after menopause. During this phase, many of the irritating symptoms that a woman may have experienced before menopause decreases gradually.

However, as a consequence of this, women in the postmenopausal phase are at a greater risk for several health issues such as Osteoporosis and heart-related disease. Once a woman has entered this stage, it will last for the rest of her life.

Postmenopause - Can You Get Pregnant In the Postmenopausal Stage?

The probability of getting pregnant once a woman has been without her period for a whole year is near zero. You may continue to use contraception until your GP confirm your postmenopausal stage.

What are the symptoms of Postmenopause?

Most women in postmenopause will feel symptoms similar to those of menopause. The level of these symptoms is typically less intense, but they might also disappear entirely. This is usually caused by low levels of reproductive hormones. Some further symptoms include:

  • Insomnia
  • Weight changes
  • Hair Loss
  • Depression
  • Dry Skin
  • Hot Flashes and night sweats
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Urinary incontinency

If the symptoms appear more severe or life-limiting, speak with your healthcare provider. They may want to rule out certain underlying conditions that are causing these symptoms.

Postmenopause - Treatment

Healthcare providers may prescribe medications and advised therapies to help manage symptoms of the postmenopausal stage. They include:

  • Hormone Therapy
  • Antidepressants
  • Vaginal Creams for vaginal dryness
  • Gabapentin Pills to relieve hot flashes

Postmenopause - Self Homecare

Certain lifestyle or home changes can help with to manage the postmenopausal stage, they include:

  • Exercise Regularly
  • Have diets rich in Phytoestrogens (whole-grain cereals, flaxseed, and vegetables)
  • Lower or completely stop the consumption of caffeine and alcoholic drinks

If you are going through menopause, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider. They can guide you and make sure that you are on the right track throughout this stage to minimize the risk of health conditions.

Related: Premenstrual Tension | Period Cramps - A Comprehensive guide

Related: Can you get Pregnant with Low sperm count | Oligospermia - A Comprehensive Guide

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