Recognizing Pre-Menopause Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of pre-menopause are, in most cases, easily identified by most women. They’re basically the same symptoms of actual menopause, but occur at an earlier age. This condition is also called “peri-menopause,” and can last for five or six years. For some women the symptoms of pre-menopause are subtle and gradual. But for others, these symptoms are so severe that they become intolerable and require aggressive medical treatment.

Menopause, by definition, occurs when menstruation stops for a period of one year. This signifies that a woman’s ovaries have stopped producing eggs, therefore there is no need for the uterus to develop a lining of blood and tissue to cushion a developing fetus. After menopause, a woman is no longer fertile. Pre- menopause symptoms have been occurring during this one-year period.

What are the Symptoms of Pre-Menopause?

These symptoms are different for every woman, but the majority of women experience erratic menstrual periods, heavy and painful periods, insomnia, night sweats, changes in appetite, mood irregularity, weight gain, heart palpitations, vaginal dryness, urinary tract changes, hot flashes, fatigue, and dryness and wrinkling of the skin. These symptoms are caused by fluctuating estrogen levels; once actual menopause is complete, the symptoms are eliminated.

Physicians often disagree about whether pre-menopause symptoms should be medically treated with estrogen hormone replacement therapy, antidepressant medication and progestin that chemically stops menstrual periods. If the symptoms fall within normal range, most women do well without medications. In severe cases that involve very heavy menstrual periods that can result in life-threatening anemia, medications and even a hysterectomy should be considered. Each woman must assess her own symptoms of pre-menopause to determine their severity and whether or not medical intervention is necessary.

Since symptoms of pre-menopause can occur as early as age 30, this part of a woman’s life can last up to twenty years! If early peri-menopause occurs, a woman’s fertility will be compromised. Instinctively, women refer to their “biological clock” if they experience early symptoms of pre-menopause and still hope to have children. Once peri-menopause begins, it cannot be reversed except through expensive and aggressive fertility treatments. Thus, women who recognize their pre-menopause symptoms can become very apprehensive, thinking, “But I’m too young!”

An additional problem for women experiencing early symptoms of pre-menopause is that they become prone to ovarian cysts. These cysts are formed by unreleased eggs; they become hard and can cause heavy and prolonged bleeding and severe abdominal pain. Ovarian cysts can be eliminated either by using birth control bills or, in serious cases, by the surgical removal of the affected ovary. Either way, the woman will develop fertility problems and in some cases, pre-menopause symptoms.

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