Because the symptoms in perimenopause can be so nebulous, women can feel unwell during their menopause journey. Often, women even feel sickly because of the nature of the symptoms they endure. But keep in mind there are so many factors that contribute to the way you feel during your menopause years. From work and family stressors to other changes that happen in your body during these years, its no surprise that women can feel crummy at times (or all the time, for that matter). The good news for women asking, will I ever feel normal and healthy again is that yes, you will feel better after menopause. Let’s take a look at when you can expect to feel better.
How long does perimenopause last?
Perimenopause is defined as the time “around menopause.” On average, women are in perimenopause for 4-8 years, but there is a lot of variety in how long women can be in this phase. Some women find that they experience perimenopause symptoms for 10 years, whereas others have symptoms for just a few years before menopause.
Women often enter perimenopause in their mid-forties but you can enter perimenopause even in your late 30s to 60s. When women start perimenopause in their 30’s, it is often considered that you are in early menopause.
Why can perimenopause make you feel unwell?
No matter how long you are in perimenopause, the symptoms can make you question if you are struggling with more than just this natural transition in a woman’s life. There are 34 symptoms associated with perimenopause. Yet, these symptoms may also be related to other health conditions. Here are some examples of symptoms you may experience during perimenopause.
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Brain fog
- Joint pain
- Tingling extremities
- Pelvic issues (vaginal dryness, stress incontinence, increased risk for urogenital infections)
- Heart palpitations
- Weight gain
Although this list is not complete, one can see why perimenopause can make you feel unwell. When you start to think you are in perimenopause, it is a great time to see your doctor. A complete health exam can help you feel more secure that your symptoms are related to hormones as opposed to other health conditions. Furthermore, if you do experience symptoms that concern you even if you know you are in perimenopause, it is always important to tell your doctor. For example, even though dizziness a symptom of perimenopause, it can also be a sign that something else is going on. (How frustrating, right?!)
How long does menopause last?
The average age of menopause is 51. But, that is just an average. Women can reach menopause in their forties and even their sixties. Menopause is confirmed when a woman has been period-free for at least 12 months. At that point, it is safe to say you are no longer ovulating and no longer able to get pregnant naturally. It is also the point where you really need to start focusing on preventing bone loss through osteoporosis.
The menopause stage typically lasts between 3-5 years. During this time, women can still experience symptoms they experienced during perimenopause. However, the longer you are from your last period, the less severe your symptoms (generally). Once you reach postmenopause, you can expect your symptoms like hot flashes to go away. Many women also find they have more energy and are less affected by moodiness and anxiety.
When you start to think you are in perimenopause, it is a great time to see your doctor. A complete health exam can help you feel more secure that your symptoms are related to hormones as opposed to other health conditions.
Steps to Feeling Healthy During Perimenopause and Menopause
Having symptoms that make you feel crummy during menopause is regrettably normal and part of the journey. Yet, there are so many things you can do to better your symptoms and your overall health during menopause. Indeed, menopause is a perfect time for you to start focusing more on your whole-body health, well-being, and happiness. By the time you reach perimenopause, you may have children that are growing, parents that are aging, a demanding career, a house to maintain, etc. Now, more than ever, it is important to take care of yourself, so you can function as best as possible no matter what your life looks like. Here are some tricks to feeling as normal and healthy as possible during perimenopause.
- See your doctor regularly and when you have concerns
- Eat a wholesome, healthy diet
- Quit smoking – Women who smoke have more severe hot flashes and are more prone to chronic health conditions like heart disease.
- Find a physical activity that you enjoy
- Cut back on the alcohol
- Re-connect with your partner
- Focus on mental and emotional health
- Re-kindle friendships
- Talk with a therapist
- Find a creative outlet
- Allow yourself to sleep
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, does not take the place of medical advice from your physician, and is not intended to treat or cure any disease. Patients should see a qualified medical provider for assessment and treatment.