Although you may have welcomed the end of uncomfortable cramps, inconvenient bleeding, and extreme mood swings since the advent of your very first period, actually encountering perimenopause or menopause symptoms when you're still well within your childbearing years can be an emotional roller coaster as well. Around 4 percent of women enter perimenopause in their twenties or thirties, with symptoms lasting as long as 10 years before the transition to full menopause. You may worry about the health-related consequences of taking hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) for the next several decades but be anxious for anything that will relieve your night sweats, plummeting sex drive, and constant spotting. Read on to learn more about the best long-term options for treating symptoms of perimenopause that crop up at a relatively early age.
Begin making lifestyle changes
Perimenopause symptoms like irregular periods, hot flashes, and night sweats are the earliest physical signs of the hormonal fluctuations that accompany the end of your period. While these symptoms can be obvious (albeit unpleasant), other conditions—like osteoporosis—may show no signs until it's too late. It's a good idea to increase your calcium and Vitamin D intake to prevent your bones from leaching calcium and preserve their strength.
You'll also want to curb bad habits like smoking and binge drinking. They not only are bad for your overall health but also can exacerbate the hormonal fluctuations you're experiencing and actually make your symptoms worse.
Rule out any outside physical causes
Because there are a variety of glands and organs that regulate the body's hormones, it's important for you to visit a gynecologist or endocrinologist early in the process to ensure there aren't any physical issues that could be throwing you into perimenopause. Often, problems with the thyroid or issues like ovarian cysts can interfere with your normal estrogen and progesterone production. Solving these problems through medication or surgery can often send your perimenopause symptoms packing for decades.
You should be able to pinpoint a number of potential endocrine issues simply by having a panel of blood tests. These tests can be performed on an outpatient basis at your doctor's office and are often fully covered by health-insurance plans as a preventive or diagnostic measure.
Look into hormone replacement
If the women in your family tend to go through menopause early, and you've ruled out any other potential physical causes that could be complicated by hormone-replacement therapy (HRT), you may want to consider supplementing your lower estrogen and progesterone levels with medication, either prescription HRT or naturopathic methods using herbs and soy derivatives. Both these types of medication can keep your hormonal levels stable, and you may need to increase your dosage as your body's production of estrogen and progesterone continues to decline over time.
Depending upon the specific hormones you're taking, you may need to make additional lifestyle changes to minimize any side effects. For example, ultra-high levels of estrogen can sometimes feed certain reproductive cancers (like breast, ovarian, and cervical cancer). Having regular cancer screenings performed and undergoing periodic blood tests to ensure your estrogen levels are within the ideal range can keep you healthy. Other hormones may increase your risk of heart attack or stroke, making it crucial to keep a close eye on your sodium and saturated-fat intake to avoid cardiac problems down the road.
Fortunately, by taking these minor measures (which are good for your health regardless of whether you're going through perimenopause), you'll be able to enjoy the rest of your twenties, thirties, forties, and beyond without dealing with inconvenient and disruptive symptoms of perimenopause.
Make an appointment with a healthcare provider such as Bay Area Women's Care to learn more.