In a nutshell
- Perimenopause is the period of time that leads up to menopause. Hormone levels of estrogen start to decline which causes menstrual cycles to become less predictable. Aside from that, other side effects that you may experience are hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood swings.
- Menopause happens when you’ve stopped ovulating completely and haven’t had a period for 12 months in a row. After this life event occurs, you enter post menopause.
- Post Menopause comes directly after menopause, and you’ll stay in this phase for the rest of your life. Those in post menopause have increased risk of health conditions like osteoporosis and heart disease.
The stages broken down
Perimenopause means “around menopause” and refers to the time when your body is transitioning from your reproductive years to menopause. It is sometimes also called the menopausal transition.
Estrogen levels during perimenopause rise and fall unevenly which can cause your menstrual cycles to lengthen or shorten. You may also begin having menstrual cycles in which you don’t ovulate at all. Along with irregular fluctuations in estrogen levels, other menopause-like symptoms that are often experienced are hot flashes, sleep problems, vaginal dryness, and mood swings.
Progesterone and estrogen have a harmonious relationship that gets thrown off when estrogen decreases. Their dance together dictates ovulation and menstruation, so it’s common for them to go up and down similar to a rollercoaster during perimenopause.
Menopause in its simplest terms means that you no longer have menstrual periods. After you haven’t had a period for 12 consecutive months, you have reached menopause. At this point, your body makes too little estrogen for your ovaries to release eggs.
Post menopause is simply when your ovaries have stopped releasing eggs and you haven’t had a menstrual period for more than 12 months in a row. The menopausal symptoms you’d previously had may be milder now or, if you’re lucky, go away completely. Some people, however, continue to have symptoms for a decade or more after menopause.
Although these are similar to what you may have experienced in perimenopause, they may be less intense now. Some symptoms are:
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Vaginal dryness and sexual discomfort
- Changes in sex drive
- Dry skin
- Weight changes
- Hair less
- Urinary incontinence
UTIs and the transition to menopause
As you progress through menopause, your chance of recurrent UTIs increases. One study reports that 19-36% of premenopausal people experience recurrent UTIs, however, the rate of recurrence increases to 55% after menopause.
As estrogen decreases during this time, it can lead to changes in the bladder lining, which can result in changes in the urogenital microbiome. This change reduces the natural defense mechanisms against UTIs.
If you take probiotics, you are probably familiar with the bacteria, Lactobacillus. This bacterium colonizes a healthy vagina before menopause. The vaginal walls release glycogen, a type of glucose, which Lactobacilli ferment producing lactic acid. This aids in inhibiting other types of bacteria from populating the area. It acts as a protection against other types of bacteria and pathogens.
This is important because authors of the study noted that reduced estrogen levels during menopause lead to lower levels of Lactobacilli and an elevated pH which creates an environment more vulnerable to infection.
Never fear—here at Semaine, we’ve got your back! Get yourself a bottle of Urinary Cleanse & Protect to help support your overall bladder health during this transition. You can take it daily for prevention or as needed. It’s jam-packed with a full spectrum of cranberry polyphenols in addition to our special ingredient, hibiscus, which has tons of vitamin C for immunity. Hibiscus is also a gentle diuretic loaded with antioxidants to help flush your system and is helpful in preventing kidney stones.
Managing menopause symptoms
The good news is there are plenty of options for managing unwanted menopause symptoms. You should always chat with your medical professional but we’ll list off a few popular medications they may prescribe as well as some at-home changes you can try.
Medications You May be Prescribed
- Antidepressants for mood swings for depression
- Vaginal creams for pain during intercourse and vaginal dryness
- Gabapentin (Neurontin®) to relieve hot flashes
Another option is hormone therapy, but healthcare providers often recommend it’s used for a short amount of time and in people under the age of 60. Blood clots and stroke are some of the health risks associated with hormone therapy.
Lifestyle/At-Home Changes You Can Try
- Water-based lubricant used during sex can help make it more pleasurable and help with dryness and pain.
- Regular exercise, and relaxing activities like mediation can help with depression and other post menopause side effects.
- Eating foods rich in phytoestrogens (plant-based sources of estrogen) like whole-grain cereals, flaxseed, chickpeas, and legumes. Reducing caffeine and alcohol have also been shown to help.
- Take Menopause Essentials! Formulated with red clover from Spain, and bergamot and olive extract from Italy, it’s practically a Mediterranean diet in a bottle! These ingredients work together as estrogen is decreasing to support you during hot flashes, night sweats, and mood changes.
- Add The Daily to your routine. Our hormone supplement can combat issues with increased insulin which will in turn help with the increased risk of heart disease and diabetes as we reach menopause.
While all these stages can sound daunting, it’s important to remember this transition is a natural part of a menstruator’s life and the best thing we can do is to support our bodies through the change. It might even be helpful to talk to other people in your life who have already gone through this change. Equally important, chat with your doctor about any concerns you have so you can be proactive about a plan for this journey.