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What is Perimenopause?

Are you a woman over 35 having changes in the length, flow or frequency of your period?  Have you experienced a momentary flush of intense heat on your face and upper body, lasting from one to 3 minutes?  Have you experienced interrupted sleep by night sweats?  Do you feel like there are changes going on in your body that you just can't control and you just don't understand?

If so, you may be in perimenopause.  Perimenopause is the two to ten year time-frame before menopause.  Hormonal changes during this transitional phase can cause many menopausal symptoms.  However, many women are not aware that these symptoms are related to their hormones and may attribute them to other causes.

The symptoms of perimenopause include any of the menopausal symptoms:  hot flashes, insomnia, fatigue, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, and vaginal dryness.  Some women--or their doctors--think they have "stress", thyroid problems, anxiety disorders, or depression.

What can be done? The answer depends on your symptoms and your risks.  For many women, low-dose birth control pills may be a very effective solution.  Other approaches include antidepressant therapy, lifestyle changes, and even sleep medication. 

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Created: 12/4/2000  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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