Author: Stephanie Faubion M.D., Director, Mayo Clinic Women's Health Clinic and Office of Women's Health
Perimenopause is the time leading up to your final menstrual period and can last up to several years. During this time, menstrual cycles may be heavier or lighter than usual, and may come at shorter or longer intervals.
Behind the scenes, your hormone levels are all over the place. They can swing dramatically and shoot higher (and dip lower) than they did during your reproductive years. These swings can explain some of the bothersome symptoms that women experience, including mood swings, heightened anxiety, irritability, trouble concentrating, “brain fog” and difficulty sleeping, as well as the more familiar symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats.
If you’ve noticed changes in your waistline, you’re not alone. Weight gain and weight redistribution- especially around the middle- can also be problematic and is influenced by several factors including aging, changes in hormones, activity level, and diet. Vaginal dryness can start even before menopause and can lead to discomfort with sexual activity.
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What can you do to minimize the impact of these changes?
When should you seek advice from your medical provider?
While the changes associated with perimenopause can catch you off guard, you can take steps to make this natural transition into menopause as smooth as possible.