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3 Sneaky Signs You've Entered Perimenopause

3 Sneaky Signs You've Entered Perimenopause

Before you officially reach menopause — 12 months without a period — you transition through perimenopause, a time when hormone levels fluctuate dramatically. Perimenopause can bring a host of unpleasant symptoms, and if you aren’t aware you’ve entered this phase of your life, you may wonder just what is going on.

Here at Ideal Gynecology, board-certified gynecologist Lillian Schapiro, MD, and our board-certified women’s health nurse practitioners Tiffany Morgan, WHNP, and Olivia Taylor, WHNP, can help you make sense of changes that tend to occur in your early to mid-40s (earlier for some women). Although these changes are unavoidable, you can take steps to lessen the impact perimenopause has on your life. 

What is perimenopause?

 

As you head toward the end of your reproductive years, a lot of changes are going on in your body. Levels of progesterone and estrogen swing erratically and unpredictably from high to very low, and this can change from day-to-day. For many women, this can feel as if you’re on a rollercoaster in terms of your energy, mood, motivation.

What’s more, many women don’t realize what’s happening. You may just know that you don’t feel like yourself. Perhaps you were driven, organized, and on top of things most of your adult life, and now suddenly find yourself tired, unmotivated, and disorganized. 

There’s a reason this is happening, and it’s usually a sign that you’ve entered perimenopause. Take a look at five of the most common signs that you’ve entered perimenopause. 

#1: Mood swings

Estrogen is a hormone that, among other things, drives nurturing and caretaking. As levels fluctuate dramatically during menopause, you may find yourself with a short fuse. Irritability, heightened emotions, and mood swings are common. 

If you are normally a calm, patient person, it may take you by surprise if you’re suddenly moody and irritable, but this is a sign that you may have entered perimenopause. Some women experience anxiety, low mood, or depression during this transition.

#2: Weight gain and changes in metabolism

If you’ve entered perimenopause, the days of being able to eat what you want and keep your weight manageable might be behind you. Weight gain, particularly around the midsection, is typical during perimenopause. 

You may find it easier to gain and harder to lose during this time. This means that you must practice mindfulness when it comes to the foods with which you’re fueling your body and how much you’re eating.

As you age, muscle mass decreases, and with less of the positive weight management effects of estrogen, your body needs fewer calories. Though frustrating, incorporating strength training into your exercise routine can help combat this by building muscle mass, which in turn boosts metabolism. 

Paying close attention to what you’re eating, focusing on nutrient-dense foods, and managing portion sizes can also help manage this perimenopausal weight gain.

#3: Brain fog and problems with focus

Perimenopause can also take a toll on cognitive functions, leading to trouble concentrating, difficulties in focusing, and the experience of "brain fog." Many women report feeling less mentally sharp or having a harder time managing tasks. 

You may notice issues with your short-term memory. Perhaps you start forgetting where you put things, or you notice that you put something in the wrong place. If you open your fridge and find your notebook inside, there’s a high chance you’ve entered perimenopause.

In fact, WebMDs ADDitude magazine conducted a first of its kind survey of 1,500 women and found that more than half reported memory problems during perimenopause severe enough to significantly disrupt their lives. What’s more eye opening? More than 80% of the women reported experiencing ADHD symptoms for the first time during perimenopause. 

Though we’ve discussed three of the sneakiest signs of perimenopause, other symptoms include:

This isn’t an exhaustive list. Because hormones have a wide-ranging impact, you may experience symptoms that are not listed here. 

If you experience any unexplained symptoms or just don’t feel like yourself and are over the age of 35, it’s wise to discuss the possibility of perimenopause with our team here at Ideal Gynecology. 

Open communication with healthcare providers, seeking support from peers, and prioritizing self-care are pivotal steps in navigating perimenopause with confidence and positivity. The good news is that you can take back control of your life and how you feel and function.

To schedule a visit to discuss perimenopause and anything else related to women’s health, give us a call at Ideal Gynecology today!



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