Perimenopause: Puberty In Reverse

by WV Marshall

Adolescence. That time when the world turned upside down and inside out. Hormones are ragin’ and bodies are changing’.

Perimenopause. That time when the world turned upside down and inside out. Hormones are ragin’ and bodies are changin’.

It’s time to recognize that the hormonal shifts women experience when they are perimenopausal can be as dramatic as when they entered adolescence, the American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists said.

“I think we downplay how much perimenopause affects women,” Octavia Cannon, president of the American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said in a February 2019 news release. “During this reverse puberty stage, women’s bodies are under a profound amount of stress that causes physical, mental and emotional strain – and yet, it’s rarely addressed outside of the doctor’s office.”

Women enter the perimenopausal stage eight to 10 years before of menopause, typically during their late 30s or early 40s. The duration of perimenopause averages four to five years, but it can last anywhere from three to 10.

During this transition phase, women could irregular menstrual cycles, heavy bleeding, vaginal dryness, decreased libido, headaches, brain fog, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, night sweats, and more.

“Compound this stress with the fact that career and familial responsibilities peak around this time, and you can understand why perimenopause is often associated with a feeling of burnout,” said Betsy Greenleaf, DO, an OB/GYN and urogynecologist. “I’m checking on emotional and mental health as much as physical symptoms during consultations with perimenopausal patients.”

Greenleaf said new bio-identical hormones coming to market show promise, “but it’s a balance between easing symptoms and managing risk.”

She noted that some perimenopause symptoms could mimic other, more serious health concerns, and recommended women discuss their perimenopausal symptoms and concerns with their healthcare provider.