Pre-menopause and Perimenopause: What’s the Difference?

We NEED to talk about pre-menopause and perimenopause! As a woman of a certain age, I find myself shaking my head at the fact no one talks about the time BEFORE menopause. Many of us got a bit of a heads-up about what menstruation is and what it means. I received a lot of information about conception or lack of conception or in my case the ultimate struggle to conceive, but then I was left to investigate on my own. I have worked with countless women who share the same question. Why don’t we learn more about what happens before menopause?

This is a great question considering the time before “official” menopause is fraught with confusing physical, hormonal, and EMOTIONAL changes. Luckily, we can find information if we search for it, but let’s face it when you’re busy with life and you are a woman who has learned to cope with PMS, PMDD, or other hormonal problems you can easily chalk it up to a bad month. My advice to women who are noticing dramatic mood swings, weird periods, sleep disturbance, or a hunch that something is off, talk to your provider and talk to a therapist who understands women’s issues.

Pre-menopause and Perimenopause, What’s the difference?

This is where the waters get murky. Pre means “before” and peri means “around”. Those two are pretty similar in my opinion. In the medical community, pre-menopause is rarely acknowledged. Perimenopause is more widely recognized. Pre-menopause is the time one starts to notice dramatic mood swings that aren’t associated with your period, you may also notice that your periods are off schedule or heavier than usual, and sleep disturbance is a common complaint.

Perimenopause is often considered the time when a barrage of symptoms hits. These symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, missed periods, heavier periods, intense mood swings, anxiety, depression, and sleep problems. Sounds fun, right? I of course am joking, but when I read these symptoms and know that experts tell women that these symptoms can last from 2 to 10 years, I come back to my original question. Why aren’t we talking more about this very disruptive time in women’s lives?

The physical symptoms are often the least prominent symptoms of pre and perimenopause. The shifts in mood, anxiety levels, and depression are often overlooked leading to major disruptions in the lives of women. I am passionate about opening up this conversation and walking alongside women who fear their hormonal rage or depression or fill in the blank, could harm their relationships at home and in the workplace. I haven’t even spoken about the difficulties of parenting during major hormonal shifts, that’s for another post.

If you think you may be premenopausal or perimenopausal contact your healthcare provider for bloodwork and I encourage you to reach out to me today. You do not have to feel like you are crazy, lost, or alone during this time. There are ways to manage this time and even grow from it, but the key is to talk to someone who knows women.

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