Perimenopause (or premenopause) refers to the years preceding menopause (the permanent end of menstruation). It is accompanied by an array of symptoms, including irregular menstruation caused by hormonal imbalances. These symptoms start appearing at 48 years of age on average, and can last from one to seven years.
In early perimenopause, oestrogen levels fluctuate. High levels of oestrogen cause symptoms such as water retention, bloating (of the stomach, legs, etc.), weight gain and painful breasts.
As menopause approaches, oestrogen production drops off. During menopause, oestrogen production stops completely, which leads to hot flushes, night sweats and dry skin and mucosa.
During menopause, the body no longer produces oestrogen. Adjusting to this change takes time. Once the body has adapted, hot flushes gradually disappear.
However, the drop in oestrogen increases the risk of cardiovascular problems and osteoporosis. It is therefore important to continue to take oestrogen to minimise these risks.
Progesterone should also be taken to prevent the side effects that can be caused by taking oestrogen.
There are many different Hormone Replacement Therapies (HRTs) containing oestrogen to reduce hot flushes and the risk of cardiovascular problems or osteoporosis.
Another option, which is gentler on the body and has fewer side effects, is to take phytoestrogens such as soy isoflavones. Phytoestrogens do not require you to take progesterone supplements.
Whatever your situation, we recommend you consult your doctor.
Dr. Gilles Brami