A season of change is upon us as Autumn draws near. Each year at this time I am reminded of the path of peri-menopause into menopause. As I reflect on my own journey I realize that this time changed the course of my life. Peri-menopause was filled not only with physical changes but also remnants of unresolved issues and the gateway to evaluate how I was living my life, what I wanted and the changes I was willing to make. The path into and through menopause can truly be a gift.
The menopausal transition spans 3-9 years, typically starting around age 45 with a range of age 44-56. The transition is dynamic, beginning with longer cycles, periods that are lighter and shorter or heavier and longer in length. During early peri-menopause progesterone levels begin to fall, estrogen typically remains the same or increases. When progesterone declines and estrogen remains the same, an imbalance is created. The first symptoms experienced are irregular periods and often excessive vaginal bleeding. This is often a time of weight gain, premenstrual headaches, bloating, mood swings and forgetfulness. As a woman moves closer to menopause, defined by 12 months without a period, estrogen declines and hot flashes often occur. A hot flash is a sudden sensation of warmth that can become intense heat over the face, scalp and chest area. (more…)