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Summary: The basics of the first stage of menopause -- perimenopause.
Did you know that there are actually three stages of menopause? The fist stage which is the topic of discussion, is known as perimenopause. This is the stage when the menopausal symptoms are felt, usually a few years before the actual menopause. Some experts believe that perimenopause can last from 5-15 years while others say that it is a 3-4 year phase. However, most women experience menopausal symptoms during perimenopause than during the actual menopause or after it. A woman still has her menstrual periods during the perimenopause stage, although these are very erratic and she may find herself skipping some periods as a result of fluctuating hormonal levels. This phase usually happens to a woman between the ages of 35 and 50. Although menopausal symptoms vary in every woman, she may begin to feel some changes, either physically or emotionally, during the perimenopause stage. Some symptoms may be felt gradually over a longer period of time, while others may notice abrupt changes in a shorter span of time.
A perimenopausal woman may also start having PMS if she hasn't had these or her PMS may become more intense. Menopausal symptoms most commonly felt during this phase are hot flushes, mood swings, urinary incontinence, and sleep disorders.
Some health practitioners suggest using hormonal therapy during the perimenopause stage to replace the decreasing supply of hormones. Since there are women who do not know that they have gone through perimenopausal, and they just suddenly realized that their menstruation have stopped, only a few are able to address the problems that come with it. There are also women who have noticed intense menopause symptoms during the perimenopause stage, but have never asked for medical advice. Some of these symptoms, if not treated, can lead to surgical procedures. These surgical procedures, among other things, are responsible for premature menopause.
Women should pay more attention to what their bodies say especially if they fall between the menopause age range. Bone loss is a likely possibility during these years. Estrogen slows down bone breakdown. So a low level of estrogen during menopause is likely to lead to osteoporosis unless you act fast. Although bone loss also happens in men, women have the tendency to accelerate bone loss more than men do. The perimenopause phase is when bone density starts decreasing without women knowing it.
Looking at perimenopause like it's a welcome party for something like cancer, will not make the situation any easier to deal with. To successfully live with perimenopause and its symptoms would mean seeing your doctor about making lifestyle modifications and considering hormonal therapy, so a healthier life will await you during your menopause years.