Over the next few posts I’ll be sharing the first chapter of my book, “How Your Doctor is Slowly Killing You: A Woman’s Health Survival Guide” – I hope you enjoy it!
Women in perimenopause will experience three phases of hormone deficiency marked by very distinct symptoms: testosterone deficiency, estrogen deficiency (perimenopause), and menopause. Keep in mind that if you talk to doctors or look this up in a medical textbook, the actual terminology is much more complicated. For the sake of simplicity, here is a breakdown of the main symptoms and differences among the stages.
The hallmarks of testosterone deficiency include low libido, weight gain, low libido, anxiety, low libido, depression, and did I mention low libido? You may also experience mood swings, memory loss, sugar cravings and a “beer belly” appearance from the weight gain. Shapely curves take a turn in the wrong direction. Instead of carrying weight in our thighs, it moves to the belly. This usually starts in the mid- to late-30s, but certain medications, illnesses and genetics can cause it to begin sooner.
Estrogen Deficiency or Perimenopause
(Early, mid and late stages)
During the early stage of estrogen deficiency, many women will experience hot flashes and insomnia right before and/or during their period. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) gets worse, and you may have migraines for the first time in your life.
The mid stage of estrogen deficiency sees the onset of hot flashes during random times throughout month (not just during periods), worsening PMS (just when we thought it couldn’t
possibly get any worse), insomnia, forgetfulness and night sweats.
The late stage is usually marked by irregularity in menstrual cycles, and oh yes, worsening symptoms overall. You might go several months without getting a period (things are looking up), but suddenly, Aunt Flo is back with a vengeance, often becoming heavier and lasting longer (spoke too soon). Worse yet, your periods may become more frequent and have all of the delightful hallmarks outlined in the previous sentence. Terrific.
What About Progesterone?
You also need progesterone to prepare your body for pregnancy and to help you have regular periods. Progesterone is the controlling hormone that causes worsening PMS symptoms, and this hormone is produced after ovulation by the follicle remnants. However, if you don’t make enough estrogen – which happens when your ovaries slow down – then you won’t have enough progesterone, either. This leads to an estrogen dominant state, meaning the estrogen level is higher than the progesterone level. You won’t ovulate due to low estrogen, and your periods get irregular. This usually begins in the early to mid-40s, but again, certain factors can trigger it to start earlier.
NEXT WEEK: Welcome to Menopause (at last)
Recognize these signs and symptoms? Call DeRosa Medical to schedule a hormonal health checkup today. 480.610.4097