Women May Experience Years Of Perimenopause
Posted July 24, 2006 5:20 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — Many women can experience hot flashes or other common symptoms of menopause long before they turn 50 years old. There are some ways, however, to manage early symptoms.
Even before a woman goes through "the change of life," she might experience many years of perimenopause.
"That word means change -- a time when your menstrual cycle is changing," said OB/GYN Dr. Hope Riciotti. "It's more painful. It's shorter. It's heavier. It's longer in between and it's often a time when a woman has symptoms."
Nancy Walsh began having symptoms in her late 40s.
"It came on rather slowly for me and it was the hot flashes it started with," she said. "They were very intermittent, maybe only one a day. As time went by, they became closer together."
Doctors believe women usually reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55. Nearly three-quarters of them have reported having hot flashes and night sweats.
Experts have said that to ease the symptoms, one should dress in layers, avoid spicy foods and caffeine, drink water and exercise. Although research shows hormone replacement therapy can increase a woman's risk of cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and stroke, HRT is still an option for some women.
"They are still useful in the short-term treatment of hot flashes, and we use them for the lowest dose possible for the shortest amount of time," Riciotti said.
Foods such as tofu and flaxseed also provide natural plant estrogens which some experts say can offset some symptoms of menopause.