Menopause is that inevitable time in every woman’s life when her menstrual periods end and her reproductive years come to a close. It’s a natural process, but it’s one that comes with many unpleasant changes.
Symptoms like hot flashes, weight gain, and changes in libido can all make you anxious about the arrival of menopause. And if you’ve noticed new symptoms — or your period is getting more irregular — you might be wondering if you’ve officially entered menopause.
Every woman’s experience in menopause is different, so it’s not always easy to know what your symptoms mean. Sudha Challa, MD, and our team at Lenox Medical Clinic, located in Chamblee and Johns Creek, Georgia, specialize in women’s health care, and we’re here to help you learn about what’s happening to your body and what to expect next.
The signs of perimenopause
For American women, the average age of menopause onset is 51. However, it’s not uncommon to start experiencing menopausal symptoms much earlier than that. Perimenopause is the transitional period before menopause begins, and it can start while you’re still in your 30s.
During perimenopause, your fertility naturally starts declining. Your body produces less estrogen than it did before, and you may start experiencing symptoms that mimic those of menopause.
Common perimenopause symptoms include:
- Hot flashes
- Low libido
- Mood swings
- Urinary incontinence
- Vaginal dryness
The main difference between perimenopause and menopause is that you still get a menstrual period when you’re in perimenopause, even if it’s irregular. Perimenopause may last from a few months to up to 10 years, and the average duration is about four years.
The start of menopause
As perimenopause progresses, your periods may become more infrequent. After you go one full year without a period, menopause officially begins, and your ovaries stop releasing eggs.
You’ll no longer have periods, and you’re no longer able to get pregnant.
The symptoms of menopause are very similar to those of perimenopause, but they may get more intense. The good news is that your symptoms aren’t permanent. In most cases, menopausal symptoms dissipate 4-5 years after the onset of menopause.
Navigating menopausal symptoms
Menopausal symptoms aren’t permanent, but years of dealing with hot flashes, mood swings, and more can take their toll. Severe symptoms can erode your quality of life, and we can help you navigate these changes successfully.
Dr. Challa works with women to find lifestyle changes to minimize bothersome symptoms of menopause. When lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough, we may recommend Biote® bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.
Bioidentical hormone therapy addresses hormonal imbalance, which is often the cause of severe menopausal symptoms. Dr. Challa and our team develop a personalized program based on your needs, and we adjust your plan as needed to ensure you’re getting the most effective relief.
You don’t have to figure out menopause on your own. If you’re wondering whether your symptoms mean you’re in perimenopause or menopause, book a women’s health appointment at Lenox Medical Clinic. Call our team or request an appointment online now.