Your December Pink Prescriptions column is all about The “M” word. And we don’t mean merry. We mean peri – and menopause. We asked our local health experts to answer some before, during, and after questions. Here’s what they had to say:
Am I experiencing menopause or perimenopause? How do I know the difference?
Menopause is defined by no menstrual cycle for at least 12 months. It occurs when your ovaries stop making estrogen. Perimenopause is the time frame prior to menopause when you start experiencing menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and menstrual irregularities.
Most women start experiencing perimenopausal symptoms in their 40s, while the average age of menopause in the U.S. is 51. If you are still having menstrual cycles, but experiencing the above symptoms, then you are likely in perimenopause. If you have skipped your period for several months and are wondering if it is due to menopause, your gynecologist can check a lab called follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which is elevated after menopause.