Understanding what the “menopausal transition” actually is, can be confusing. In this quick video, Bonafide Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Alyssa Dweck, explains what is really going on during this transitional period, and what symptoms can be considered commonplace.
What is the Menopausal Transition?
Hi there, Dr. Alyssa Dweck, your Chief Medical Officer here at Bonafide. Today I wanted to talk to you about perimenopause, also known as the first stage of the menopausal transition. This is a natural stage of life where the ovaries are producing less estrogen. One result of this is a change in the balance of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone hormones, and this can lead to symptoms iconic of perimenopause.
Perimenopause to Menopause Transition
In general, perimenopause can start in the early to mid-40s; although some people will experience changes that point to their transition to menopause starting as early as their mid to late 30s. Perimenopause usually lasts about four to eight years, but this can be variable. The perimenopause to menopause transition occurs once a woman has gone a full 365+ days without a period.
Possible Symptoms Experienced During the Stages of the Menopause Transition
The symptoms [of perimenopause] can include the usual change in menstrual habits, where people may skip periods, or have a change in bleeding amount, or duration. And this may need to be checked out to ensure no other issue is going on to cause these changes. But this is a typical symptom of perimenopause [regarding menstrual changes].
In addition, people will complain of hot flashes, night sweats, and sleep disturbances; [which can occur] in addition to mood changes, specifically irritability. In fact, many of my patients will come in kind of blindsided telling me that they really don't recognize themselves, because of this mood change that can go on.
Vaginal changes can occur during the menopausal transition, including vaginal dryness. Urinary habit changes can also occur, like frequency or other signs of overactive bladder. Decreased fertility [is common], although the potential for pregnancy still exists.
One is not menopausal until they've gone a full 12 months consecutively without menstruating. But until this time, contraception is indicated if one does not want to get pregnant.
Every woman’s experience with the menopausal transition will be unique, so it’s important to be mindful of your own, personal symptoms, and to not hesitate in speaking with your healthcare provider to help make this transitional period more comfortable for you.