It is good that women are now more interested in knowing the facts about menopause and the changes that take place in their body, before, during and after menopause. By knowing these facts, they can easily handle the changes and manage the stress. Cessation of menstruation, or the end of ovulation and fertility, is termed as menopause.
While perimenopause is a phase when a woman starts experiencing some of the early symptoms of menopause. Women around the age of 45 are referred to as perimenopausal women; but some women may experience symptoms of menopause even after 37-38 years of age. Since women menstruate during menopause, how do you know that they are approaching menopause? Certain hormonal tests help diagnose perimenopause in a woman.
The term 'perimenopause' is also used to describe the time period of about one year after the last menstrual cycle. The terms premenopause and postmenopause are also used to describe perimenopause.
Symptoms of Perimenopause
You should discuss all the symptoms with your doctor. Doctors need to examine the symptoms while diagnosing perimenopause. You may experience menopause at the age of 50, but the symptoms may begin several years earlier. Here are the symptoms of premenopause:
- Abnormally less or heavy bleeding during periods
- Delayed menstrual cycles
- Very short cycles
- Vaginal dryness
- Loss of libido
- Breast tenderness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Night sweats
- Hot flashes
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
- Dry eyes
- Urinary tract infection
- Reduced metabolic rate
- Increased vulnerability to many diseases
- Emotional disturbance, crying spells
- Anxiety, moodiness
- Depression, frustration and helplessness
- Increased irritability
- Sudden inability to handle stress.
It is true that most of these symptoms can be noticed in various other conditions. Certain other health complications can also lead to irregular or abnormal periods. These days, more and more women are found reaching menopause at 'premature age'. So, what is the best way to diagnose menopause or perimenopause? Here follows the answer.
FSH and LH Levels in Women
Genetic factors, your overall health, diet, race, the biological clock that regulates your body functions and the place where you live (latitude) determine the age at which you will reach puberty and menopause. Various hormones play an important role in reproduction and menopause (end of reproduction). For example, the drop in the level of estrogen during premenopause is responsible for most of the symptoms listed above.
Measurement of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) helps diagnose perimenopause or menopause. These hormones are released by the anterior pituitary gland and they help regulate reproductive processes of the body. As high levels of FSH in the body trigger ovulation, FSH and LH levels start rising with diminishing function of the ovaries. The normal range of FSH in a menstruating woman is 5-25 mIU/ml. FSH levels higher than 25 suggest that the woman is in the premenopausal stage.
A menopausal woman has FSH level around 50. A woman in postmenopausal stage may have FSH between 50 to 100 mIU/ml. In a menstruating woman, FSH levels drop down after ovulation. So, a consistently high level of FSH (more than 25 mlu/ml) indicates the onset of premenopause and very high FSH levels (more than 50 mlU/ml) confirm menopause. I hope you have got answer to the question 'how to diagnose perimenopause'.
After menopause, women are more susceptible to bladder infection, stress incontinence, loss of bone density (increasing the risk of bone fractures) and they may develop heart diseases. But remember, certain other diseases and disorders like infertility, ovarian cyst, polycystic ovarian syndrome and stress, certain medications can lead to elevated FSH levels.
Chemotherapy, removal of ovaries, drug addiction, excessive smoking, obesity, etc. can affect the hormonal levels and can bring about artificial menopause. Women suffering from certain autoimmune diseases, nutritional deficiencies, or diseases like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa (eating disorders) or women athletes may attain menopause at premature age. In such cases measurement of hormones helps confirm perimenopause. Women should consult the health care provider regarding how to deal with the symptoms of perimenopause.