Menopause is an important landmark in a woman’s life. At this stage, women no longer have periods. The process of ovulation stops, and the hormones that make this happen, like estrogen, reduce considerably. Besides reproduction, estrogen and other hormones created during reproductive years help with important functions of the body. The reduced hormones translate into a host of symptoms and conditions that can make life difficult at first. Perimenopause is the timeframe where the signs of menopause start appearing for 4-8 years before menopause. Here are some early signs of perimenopause to look out for.
More than a night owl
Some women with perimenopause struggle to sleep. Sleeplessness is more than being a night owl but a sign of insomnia. Women with insomnia sleep shorter hours, wake repeatedly, and are tired and anxious. The reduced estrogen production can bring an early onset of symptoms menopausal women feel. Changes in body temperature and increases in adrenaline produce hot flashes at night. Some research has found that over 60% of menopausal and perimenopausal women struggle with sleep.
Look out for dry skin
The skin depends on several hormones to produces oil and help with cell turnover. These processes allow the skin to be smooth, moisturized, and protect against the sun’s rays. Some perimenopausal women tend to see dryness, itchiness, flaking, and more paper-like skin. For women, estrogen plays a part in skin health. The hormone signals to other hormones to produce collagen and sebum, which keeps the skin hydrated and wrinkle-free. If topical treatments and a skincare routine aren’t showing signs of improvement, see a doctor about perimenopause.
Not quite in the mood
A lack of estrogen is behind this perimenopausal symptom as well. For women, estrogen is involved in hundreds of functions, including brain health. Estrogen helps with the production of serotonin, the mood stabilizer. The hormone also has a hand in endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in the brain. During the teen and early adult years, changes in estrogen cause conditions like premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and postpartum depression. However, as estrogen slows during perimenopause, women are prone to unintentional mood swings. These physical changes can be stressful, further creating mood changes.
Getting ahead of perimenopause
For women with perimenopause and menopause symptoms, all is not lost. For starters, see a doctor if these symptoms are frequent, affecting the quality of life. After an assessment, the doctor can suggest some treatment options. Hormone replacement therapy or HRT is a medical regimen that can restore lost hormones. HRT can come in the form of pills, patches, ointments, or suppositories. The goal is to give an extra boost of estrogen, progestin, or progesterone. In some cases, the doctor can suggest small doses of testosterone to help balance symptoms. Perimenopause is also an excellent time to try lifestyle changes like a healthy diet, exercise, reducing smoking and alcohol use.
Be prepared and take action
Symptoms like insomnia, mood swings, and dry skin are some of the many challenges of menopause. Unfortunately, some women experience these changes earlier than others. While menopause is a part of life, early menopause can be addressed with medication and lifestyle changes. If these and other perimenopausal signs impact social, physical, and emotional wellbeing, get help from a doctor.