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Beenaturals Blog

Perimenopause: What You Need To Know

by Amanda Hirner 13 Sep 2023

Suppose you are losing hair, have dry skin, and no longer see your periods regularly; don't fret. Before you self-diagnose lupus or rheumatoid arthritis—you might be experiencing something much more benign. And perimenopause is a likely suspect. 

Perimenopause is a natural process that most women are bound to experience. However, many misconceptions surround when it starts, what it does, and how it affects women. In this comprehensive guide, we lay out, as simply as we can, what perimenopause is and how to get the best of your experience. Keep reading!  

What is Perimenopause?

Perimenopause, or menopause transition, is when your body transitions out of its reproductive years and into menopause. During this time, the ovaries release fewer hormones, leading the menstrual cycle to become slightly eccentric. The resultant erratic nature of the menstrual cycle leads to shorter and irregular menstrual periods and instances like ovulation without eggs. 

Perimenopause spans several years before menopause. When perimenopause starts varies widely for women. Some experience it as early as the mid-30s and as late as the mid-50s. Simply put, perimenopause is when menstruation becomes irregular and unpredictable due to hormonal imbalance. More so, it ends with menopause—the complete cessation of menstruation.

Note: Menopause follows perimenopause, and it is often hard to tell when a woman has entered menopause due to the irregular periods that occur during perimenopause. However, the rule of thumb in the medical line is—if you haven't seen your period for 12 months, you are experiencing menopause. 

What Age Does Perimenopause Start?

Perimenopause is a natural process "surrounding" menopause and can start around four years before menopause. After picking up, this condition can last several years. While the age perimenopause starts varies, it happens more commonly in the mid-40s. But it can begin much earlier or later. 

When perimenopause starts and ends before age 40, it is called premature menopause. Often, this might be influenced by medical procedures or conditions. If that's not the case, this situation is termed primary ovarian insufficiency in medicine. On the other hand, starting menopause in late 50 is late-onset menopause. That said, perimenopause leads to specific symptoms, and we will get to that in a minute. 

What Are the Symptoms of Perimenopause? 

A decline in estrogen release marks perimenopause. The female's body has been releasing estrogen since puberty; a slow decline will surely come with some characteristics. These characteristics are the symptoms associated with perimenopause. While women tend to experience perimenopause a bit differently, here are some common symptoms that persist:

  • Mood changes
  • difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches
  • Night sweats
  • Hot flashes
  • Changes in sexual desire
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Profuse sweating
  • Having to pee often

The perimenopause symptoms are usually similar to lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and more. Often, the time perimenopause occurs relates to many age-like diseases. Hence, it is always important not to conclude based on symptoms alone. Ensure you speak with a medical professional to get a proper diagnosis. 

Aside from the symptoms mentioned above, several others are linked to estrogen decrease, including, dry skin, acne, and even weak nails. If you hope to look your best even during perimenopause, we will get to that! 

How is Perimenopause Diagnosed?

Perimenopause is a slow process and a steady transition to menopause. It is close to impossible to point at when someone enters this transition. While it is strenuous to diagnose perimenopause properly, some features can help put the health professional in the right direction. 

Your medical history, age, symptoms, and physical tests are what a healthcare provider needs to drive to the right conclusion. You might also have to take blood tests to measure your hormone levels. With these factors thoroughly considered, doctors and other related professionals can conclude "you have begun perimenopause." 

How Does Perimenopause Affect Your Hair, Skin, And Nails

Aside from the well-known and acknowledged symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness, other symptoms relate to the hair, skin, and nails. It is best if you are informed so you know just how to tackle the hassle when it arrives. But before we deep dive into how best to prepare, let's discuss what you should prepare for: 

Skin Changes in Perimenopause 

Low estrogen levels don't just dry up the vagina and cause night sweats. Often, the skin takes a hit as well. The skin is the largest and most visible organ of the body. No doubt, as perimenopause lurks in, it loses some of its pristine qualities: 

  • Plumpness
  • Estrogen plays a massive role in keeping our skin nice and plump. With estrogen falling, women lose that plump look facilitated by collagen. A waning estrogen level leads to a lower production of collagen. The skin loses its volume and tightness. 

  • Dryness 
  • Estrogen is judiciously involved in water retention. Once women kick off perimenopause, they notice dryer and more itchy skin. The dry nature of your skin causes it to be more sensitive to creams. A property that might not have happened before perimenopause. You may not be able to tolerate products that you have used for several years. 

  • Darker Pigmentation 
  • Several spots of darker pigmentation might pop up all over your skin. While they can appear anywhere, they often seem more frequently on your hands, face, and arms. For the most part, these spots are harmless. But they often ruin an otherwise stunning and spotless look. 

  • Acne 
  • You thought you would never see those little friends again after puberty and pregnancy? Well, ta-da! The acnes often resurface like they never left. No doubt, perimenopause ushers in the tenacious tiny pops for another wrestle. Keep reading, as we have solutions. 

    Hair Changes During Perimenopause 

    Perimenopause sets the path for hair to brittle and thin. The hair is part of the integumentary system; hence, it is fair that what affects the skin also deals massive blows to the hair. Often, these blows are in the form of brittleness and loss. 

    As estrogen levels drop suddenly, the hair loses its initial integrity, and women can lose a great deal of hair due to the stress and the already-weak hair. This hair loss can also come as androgenic alopecia or female pattern hair loss. While balding happens differently in men, it occurs in a unique pattern. However, the results are the same. 

    Nail Changes in Perimenopause 

    Now, we are the last members of the integumentary system. If you have seen many supplements targeted at women in their 50s, they tend to mention revitalizing hair, skin, and nails. Similar to the hair, nails start to brittle and thin out. As estrogen level tapers off, the nails' keratin layers weaken, making the nails more vulnerable. 

    What Are the Best Treatment Options for Perimenopause Hair and Skin Changes? 

    Perimenopause symptoms are uncomfortable and often make women look much older. Hot flashes, night sweats, acne, and skin dryness can't go away from the whiff of a wand. Nonetheless, there are effective ways perimenopause women can regain their radiant glow and better it. 

    Treatment options for most symptoms range from therapy and medications to better lifestyle choices. Here are some intentional efforts you can take to preserve your skin, hair, and nail integrity as you enter perimenopause: 

    • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

    Often, this step helps to shut out all the discomfort you might have during the transition. This therapy is safe and involves introducing estrogen to your body. Often, the estrogen is given through tablets, skin patches, gel or spray, and implants. However, you must take progesterone if you have a womb to combat its effect on the lining. This therapy is called combined HRT. 

    Progesterone is given similarly to estrogen. Plus, this treatment often combats the symptoms that come with perimenopause since they are due to low estrogen levels. If you still have a low sex drive, you might be administered testosterone. 

    But if this therapy feels out of place, you can opt for the herbal alternative. Here, you take valerian root and opt for better dietary decisions to help balance the hormones. 

  • Good moisturizer with pro-aging ingredients
  • The pro-aging ingredients to look out for when you go moisturizer shopping include vitamin C, retinol, lactic acid, and glycolic acid. Also, SPF helps a lot (especially with the darker pigmentation that occurs.) Plus, ensure the cream is gentle and soothing. Look out for niacinamide, green tea, rosehip, and hyaluronic acid. 

  • Stay Hydrated 
  • You can combat dry skin by increasing your water intake and sleeping more. Also, reduce how often you consume caffeine, alcohol, greasy, and processed food.

  • Medications
  • Medications, such as clonidine, are often prescribed to fight the several symptoms that tag alongside perimenopause. You can also opt for supplements. Various supplements can help you retain your hair and nails. However, check with your doctor before including any medication in your routine. 

    Conclusion

    Perimenopause is a natural process that is followed by menopause. Leaving the reproductive phase has many implications, such as hormone imbalance. This imbalance leads to dry skin, brittle nails, and thin hair. While perimenopause attracts several unsuitable characteristics, you can easily combat them. Here, we cover some proven steps to look and feel better while in perimenopause! 



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