For some women, the perimenopause stage is a wake-up call. Their bodies are changing and good health becomes a greater issue. For women in early perimenopause, this happens sooner and is sometimes unexpected.
Perimenopause is the period around the onset of menopause when a woman first starts to notice physical symptoms. Menopause usually occurs naturally for a woman between the ages of 45 and 55. Early menopause occurs before mid-life, in one’s thirties or even twenties. Women who do start menopause as early as their twenties often have a family history or it has been surgically induced by a hysterectomy.
Most people have heard of the usual symptoms of menopause: hot flashes, night sweats, irregular menstruation. There’s also more less-than-common symptoms, such as crawly, itchy skin. As estrogen and progesterone decrease and become more depleted, this is a sensation that some women experience.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is one option that women use to deal with their menopausal symptoms. But HRTdoes not take symptoms away for good; it only brings relief for a time. For women with a history of cancer and/or heat disease in her family, hormone replacement may be of great concern. Of course there is still debate about whether or not it actually causes cancer, but a woman should not be shy about talking to her doctor. There are also herbal alternatives, which should be discussed with a physician as well.
Aside from taking Calcium and Vitamin D supplements for bone loss, women should exercise regularly, eat healthy and consider dietary alternatives like garlic, which is beneficial to the cardiovascular system. A woman’s chances for heart disease increase dramatically during and after menopause. Estrogen helps maintain normal levels of cholesterol in the body. When this is upset by depletion, the risk of dangerous cholesterol levels rise. If a woman is already in good health at the onset of perimenopause, then she should consider what else she should do to further protect her heart and her bones.
Social and Family Concerns
Perhaps one of the most important issues for a woman experiencing early menopause is on a social level. She may initially feel a bit ostracized. She should talk about it with friends and relatives she trusts. A woman’s peers may not go through the changes she is experiencing for another 15 or 20 years, but she can still find a supportive ear. She can also gloat over the fact that she will be completely finished with this cycle before they ever begin – been there, done that!
If a woman in early menopause does not have her own biological children yet, she of course will have to come to terms with the possibility of remaining childless. If she is single, she may experience fears of being alone. Will she ever marry if she cannot have a child with a potential husband? How soon should she tell a boyfriend that she is in menopause? Of course there are alternatives now even beyond adoption, but these are real fears that some women face. All in all, she should dismiss the fears as early as possible because if she is rejected by a man because of menopause, then it makes sense to say that he will not be the supportive one that she is looking for. Move on. It is not the end of her world. It can be a wonderful new beginning of a fresh start in health awareness and positive social changes. She will now have another group of women to share an experience with: those in middle age who are experiencing menopause at a more natural time.
For a married woman, the support of a spouse can ease her mind, even if she and her husband have discussed a desire for having their own biological children. Realizing that no one is to blame for early menopause will simply take them down a different path and lead them to new awarenesses in their shared lives. It can be a new beginning rather than an end to a biological function.
Some women turn to the Internet for a support group. This is a great way to remain relatively anonymous while pouring out the emotions which can sometimes be confusing. Her judgment may be off at first and she may be even more susceptible to changes in her moods. This could be a great outlet and a way to keep in mind that she is not going through these changes alone. There are plenty of others just like her who are at first in shock, then dealing with their changes in stride. It all takes time and adjustment. Then when her friends turn 50, she can sit back, relax, and lend a helping hand.