Kathryn Gruenwald, M.D.
Birthing Centers, Obstetrics & Gynecology (OB-GYN), Women's Health
Did you know the menopausal transition known as perimenopause begins four years before a woman’s final menstrual cycle? It’s true. Hormone production from the ovaries often starts to change when a woman is in her 40s, and thus the time between periods begins to shorten. Some women have menopausal symptoms clustered around the time of menses. Others do not. It’s important to know that perimenopausal symptoms are common and usually diminish with time.
- Vertigo (dizziness)
- Itchy skin
- Restless leg symptoms
- Heart palpitations
- Difficulty concentrating
- Breast tenderness
- Muscle and joint aches
Although most women have menopausal symptoms, only 20-30 percent seeks medical attention for treatment. If symptoms are significantly impacting quality of life, such as relations at work or home, medication may help. Unfortunately, well-designed trials do not support use of many over-the-counter supplements. However, there are some studies that show yoga and exercise can help some women.
Some medications used for depression may help with menopause symptoms. Hormone therapy is another option that can be considered, although there are health risks, including blood clots, breast cancer, gall bladder disease and stroke.
The bottom line is that perimenopausal symptoms are common; they’re typically mild for most women and usually diminish over the course of several years. However, if these symptoms are affecting your quality of life, see your health care provider to discuss your options.