The First Symptoms of Perimenopause

07 June, 2020
The first symptoms of perimenopause are a series of sudden changes in a woman's body. Therefore, you must be aware of them and see a gynecologist, if necessary. Continue reading to find out more about it.

Experiencing the first symptoms of perimenopause doesn’t mean your life is over, only that you’ve entered a new stage. But what are the first symptoms?

Firstly, you must know there’s a difference between menopause and female climacteric (perimenopause) — some women confuse them. They’re definitely related but different. Continue reading to find out more about it.

Menopause and climacteric

Menopause is the definitive disappearance of menstruation after a period of approximately twelve months. It’s the result of the shutdown of the ovarian function. It’s early menopause if it happens before the age of 40.

In contrast, climacteric is the period of transition from reproductive to non-reproductive life, at least according to medical research. This literature also highlights other guidelines with which to differentiate them:

  • Menopause takes place twelve months after the last spontaneous menstruation occurs and marks the end of a woman’s fertile life
  • Climacteric is the period of decrease of reproductive capacity in men and women, culminating in the menopause in the case of women
A seemingly happy woman.
Menopause is the moment when the fertile stage of a woman ends. It comes along with physical and emotional changes due to the hormonal processes.

Premature menopause

Definitions of premature menopause often confuse some women as well. This is probably because the medical community doesn’t seem to agree on a specific term. Some studies use “premature menopause” and “ovarian insufficiency” interchangeably and define it as:

“The cessation of ovulation and endocrine ovarian functions in women younger than 40 years”.

Note that the term “ovarian insufficiency” was coined in 1942 by Fuller Albright — considered the father of endocrinology. It was the first time anyone mentioned this phenomenon. Other scientific journals also mention various terms to refer to ovarian shutdown.

According to Muntané, a health researcher, we can say that “premenopause” is:

“The period of life before menopause, in which women undergo biological changes that can lead to a series of disorders. The absence of menstruation is one of the external manifestations of these metabolic changes. Internally, it’s the end of ovulation.”

Even though the terms aren’t too precise, it’s still possible to recognize some signs to determine whether a person is facing premenopause or not.

It may interest you: Seven Factors That May Cause Early Menopause

Symptoms of perimenopause

One can’t say there’s menopause unless a woman’s period is absent for 12 continuous months, at least. However, you’re probably experiencing premenopause if you notice some of the symptoms listed below. We recommend you consult a doctor if so.

  • Irregular menstrual cycles. If your menstruation is more than seven days late or ends early, then you should consider visiting your gynecologist
  • It’s common to have sleep imbalances along with hot flashes, insomnia, or sweating at this stage. They may just be the consequence of a hormonal disorder.
  • Physical changes such as weight gain, a feeling of bloating in the abdomen, breast pain, headaches, or nausea. The symptoms are similar to PMS.
  • Mood changes as a product of hormonal alteration. Perhaps you’re more irritable than usual and have a more negative perspective about life in general; you often think that things will go badly
  • There may be urine leakage when you sneeze and this means there’s something wrong with your pelvic floor
  • Loss of sexual desire is also related to hormonal imbalance. There may also be vaginal dryness, lack of lubrication, and vaginal itching, among others.
A woman with a headache.
There are changes during menopause that compromise a woman’s physical and mental well-being. They include mood swings, weight gain, and loss of sexual desire in addition to the typical hot flashes.

Find out: Early Menopause Increases the Risk of Dementia

How to deal with the first symptoms of perimenopause?

Being in the premenopausal period can be difficult to assimilate. However, this is a natural process and you shouldn’t be afraid of it. This is because you’re merely entering a new stage in which there’s less pressure. There are other health-related risks worth taking care of after the age of 40 such as:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Ovarian, breast or uterine cancer
  • The appearance of fibroids
  • Myomas

Consult a doctor when you experience the first symptoms of perimenopause as they can do a balanced analysis of your family history and determine the best treatment for you. They can also alleviate any discomfort. Perhaps all you need is a new personalized diet.

In any case, if you smoke then try to quit, and adopt healthy habits. Also, take vitamin D and calcium supplements and spend at least a few minutes a day on the physical activity of your choice.

  • Baena Antequera, M. J., & Vázquez Ramos, F. J. (2003). La actividad física y la menopausia precoz. Lecturas: Educación Física y Deportes.
  • Gomez Fernandez, J. (2008). Hemorragia uterina disfuncional: diagnóstico y tratamiento. Clases de Residentes.
  • López Villaverde, V., Flores Aznar, E., & Romeu Sarrió, A. (2015). INSUFICIENCIA OVÁRICA PRIMARIA (IOP) E INSUFICIENCIA OVÁRICA OCULTA (IOO). Sociedad Española de Ginecología y Obstetricia.
  • Piñeiro Chousa, F., Donís Otero, M., Ramos Ruiz, P. (1999). Menopausia y Climaterio. Protocolos de Obstetricia y Ginecología Para Atención Primaria.
  • Rodríguez, R., Emilio, Z. D., Payá, B., & Obstetricia Y Ginecología, S. (2000). ASPECTOS PSICOLÓGICOS DEL CLIMATERIO. Jornadas Ginecologicas Del Levante Almeriense.