Perimenopause refers to the phase before menopause when women haven’t menstruated for 12 successive months. This natural occurrence can bring about physical and emotional disruptions. Common ones include menstrual inconsistencies, mood fluctuations, hot flashes, and sleep disturbances, among others. This guide dives into varied treatment routes, from self-care to medications, herbs, supplements, and even surgical interventions.
Steering the Physical Symptoms of Perimenopause
Perimenopause is characterised by hormonal changes leading to physical discomforts such as menstrual variations, sleep challenges, and more.
For relief, consider the following treatments:
- Hormonal Interventions: Medical professionals may prescribe low-dose birth control or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to mitigate symptoms. These may contain estrogen, progesterone, or both, and come in varied forms like pills, patches, or sprays.
- Over-the-Counter Remedies: Options like Panadol and Nurofen can address menstrual cramps. For sleep issues, ask your doctor about melatonin or seek out a good quality natural supplement valerian root.
- Vaginal Care: Lubricants like YES! VM Moisturising Gel or NutraBlast Vaginal Suppositories can combat vaginal dryness, making intimacy more comfortable.
- Pelvic Therapies: Pelvic floor exercises and biofeedback can help with issues like painful intercourse or urinary issues.
Addressing Mental Health Changes in Perimenopause
Apart from physical symptoms, emotional and mental shifts, like mood swings or brain fog, are common. Therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy or self-hypnosis might help. In certain cases, antidepressants can also be beneficial.
Self-Care Techniques during Perimenopause
- Sleep: Cultivate good sleep habits, from maintaining a steady schedule to setting up a conducive bedroom environment.
- Relaxation: Embrace practices like deep breathing or meditation to manage stress. Acupuncture can also be beneficial, especially for sleep issues.
- Dietary Habits: Opt for a nutrient-rich diet, emphasizing whole foods, to balance hormones and sustain overall health.
- Stay Hydrated: Drink ample water daily. A cool sip can even mitigate hot flashes.
- Physical Activity: Regular exercise promotes mood elevation, sleep quality, and overall health.
- Heat: Warm compresses can be soothing, especially for cramps. Consider a warm bath for total relaxation.
- Aromatherapy: Oils like lavender can enhance sleep quality and mitigate anxiety.
- Herbs & Supplements: Some herbs might alleviate perimenopausal symptoms. However, always discuss with a healthcare provider due to potential side effects or interactions.
Considering Hormonal Treatment for Perimenopause
If contemplating hormone replacement therapy, factor in:
- Symptom intensity: When considering hormonal treatment for perimenopause, one of the primary factors is the severity and intensity of the symptoms being experienced. Perimenopause can present with a wide range of symptoms, from mild to severe, including hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, sleep disturbances, and menstrual irregularities. For some women, these symptoms may be subtle and manageable with lifestyle modifications, while for others, they can be debilitating and significantly affect their quality of life. The more intense the symptoms, the more likely a woman may benefit from hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, it’s essential to weigh the symptom relief against potential side effects and risks of HRT.
- Existing health conditions: Before opting for hormonal treatment, it’s crucial to take into account any pre-existing health conditions. Conditions like liver disease, a history of blood clots, certain types of cancers, or a history of stroke can influence the decision, as hormone therapy might exacerbate these issues or increase the risk of complications. It’s always advisable to have an in-depth consultation with a healthcare professional who can review your medical history and recommend the best treatment options based on your unique health profile.
- Personal risk factors like obesity or smoking: Personal risk factors play a crucial role in the decision-making process for hormonal treatments. Obesity can enhance the risk of developing certain side effects or complications from hormone therapy, such as blood clots or cardiovascular issues. Similarly, smokers, especially those over 35, may face an increased risk of serious cardiovascular events while on certain types of HRT. Taking these factors into consideration can help tailor the approach and may influence the type and duration of hormone therapy prescribed.
- The type and method of hormone therapy: There are various forms and methods of hormone replacement therapy available. They range from systemic treatments like oral tablets, patches, and gels to localized solutions such as vaginal creams, rings, or suppositories. Each method has its advantages, potential side effects, and risks. Some therapies include only estrogen, while others combine estrogen with progesterone or progestin, especially important for women with an intact uterus. The choice often depends on the specific symptoms being treated, individual risk factors, and patient preferences. Discussing the pros and cons of each with a medical professional can help determine the best fit.
- Fertility concerns: For women in their late 30s or early 40s experiencing perimenopause but still considering the possibility of having children, fertility can be a significant concern. Hormonal treatments can potentially affect fertility or mask the natural decline in fertility that occurs with age.
While HRT can alleviate perimenopausal symptoms, it is not a contraceptive method. If pregnancy is not desired, contraceptive measures should still be considered. On the other hand, if future pregnancies are a possibility, it’s essential to discuss fertility preservation and suitable treatments with a healthcare provider.
Surgical procedures available in extreme circumstances
Endometrial Ablation: In instances of extreme menstrual bleeding during perimenopause, a surgical procedure called endometrial ablation might be suggested. This procedure is suitable only for those not considering future pregnancies.
From Perimenopause to Menopause
Perimenopause may segue into menopause over several years. Even without menstrual periods in menopause, symptoms can persist. As you transition, treatments might evolve. For example, you might shift from birth control to HRT.
While perimenopause is a part of the natural aging process, the accompanying challenges needn’t overshadow it. By prioritising self-care and exploring diverse treatment options, you can navigate this phase with greater ease and confidence. For more information and an online health consultation, contact the Menopause Centre
Disclaimer: This article provides general information only, and does not constitute health or medical advice. If you have any concerns regarding your physical or mental health, seek immediate medical attention.