When you were nearing the approach of adolescence, you were made to endure the talk in which you were briefed on menstruation and other pertinent points of womanhood. Now that you have entered your perimenopausal phase of life, you realize that no one has given you the talk to prepare you for the symptoms that you are now experiencing. Most women are familiar with the most common signs of perimenopause, such as irregular periods, hot flashes and mood swings, but some are discovering some less common signs through their own experiences and through conversations with their peers who are in the same boat. Empower yourself and reassure your friends by learning about these additional symptoms that can present during perimenopause.
As your body produces lower levels of the hormone progesterone, which helps to promote sleep, you may experience difficulty falling asleep. To make matters worse, when you finally slip into dreamland, your brain is rudely awakened by a night sweat, the nocturnal variation of a hot flash. This frustrating cycle of inadequate sleep can result in some additional symptoms during your waking hours, such as the following:
- Inability to concentrate
You joyously coasted through puberty with only the occasional pimple, and now you look at the mirror in horror as your face erupts with unsightly acne. The hormonal upheaval that your body went through as a teenager was to blame for those blemishes then, and once again, the perimenopausal shift in hormones is to blame for round two with the zits. The emotional stresses of going through perimenopause can also contribute to the acne outbreaks. Another dermatological symptom that occurs during perimenopause is dry, itchy skin.
Everyone gets the blues on occasion, but when feelings of despair linger on for days into weeks and impact your productivity and enjoyment of life, then you may be suffering from depression. Some women experience profound sadness that they cannot always explain, and these feelings can incite bouts of crying that they may find difficult to control. Other signs of clinical depression include the following:
- Withdrawing from friends and family members
- Loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
There are other psychological symptoms that can accompany perimenopause, including the following:
- Panic disorder
You may notice lately that more of your hair has been landing on the floor of the shower stall, or you may be pulling more hair off of your hairbrush than you used to. This symptom results from the lacking level of estrogen that hair follicles need to support and promote hair growth and maintenance. Hair loss is a particularly alarming symptom for women as they observe their youthful, shiny and silky locks become the dry, dull and brittle hair of advanced age. In addition to hair, nails become dry and brittle as well.
The shifts in estrogen hormone levels can trigger your circulatory system into irregular heart rates and rhythms that are downright scary as you get older. Everyone experiences an occasional palpitation, and they are usually benign. If your irregular heartbeat is accompanied by chest pain or shortness of breath, err on the side of caution and seek medical attention immediately.
An important fact to remember is that not all women experience all of these symptoms. Some women are fortunate and have a somewhat uneventful transition into menopause. Two women may have experiences that are polar opposites of one another. For example, one common symptom is a decrease in libido, but some women, conversely, experience a higher sex drive than ever before. You should address any physical or behavioral changes that you experience to your gynecologist or primary care physician at places like Health Care for Women. Some symptoms can also be signs of other problems that should be ruled out. Once your concerns have been determined to be the result of the hormonal changes that are occurring in your body, you can relax and speak with your doctor about how to relieve or cope with your symptoms.