Declining estrogen levels are usually associated with menopause. But menopause doesn’t happen all at once. In fact, it takes years from the first signs of changing estrogen levels to full menopause.
The years leading up to menopause involve a transition stage called perimenopause. Just like your early teenage years and puberty, this time of transition can be confusing and cause different, sometimes problematic symptoms.
At Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare in Fayetteville, Newnan, and Stockbridge, Georgia, our board-certified OB/GYN providers help women prepare and transition through perimenopause and menopause. We also know that it can be difficult to tell when a decline in estrogen begins.
So we’ve created this guide to help you understand more about perimenopause and the signs of declining estrogen levels.
Estrogen is a hormone produced by your ovaries. While there are a number of injuries and health conditions that can cause a decline in estrogen levels, the most common reason is advancing age.
As you approach the age of menopause, it’s normal to experience a decline in estrogen production. This time of transition, which may include surges and declines in estrogen, is called perimenopause. You stay in this transition stage until you stop menstruating for at least 12 consecutive months.
There’s no set age for women to enter this transitional period. However, on average, women begin perimenopause sometime in their late 40s. It’s possible, however, to experience symptoms in your late 30s or not until your early 50s.
Most women spend about 4 years in perimenopause before officially entering menopause. In the United States, the average age of menopause is 51, though many factors, such as genetics, medical history, stress, certain medications, and lifestyle factors can trigger menopause at any age.
Declining estrogen levels can cause a wide range of symptoms. But although every woman experiences declining estrogen levels differently, there are some common signs you can look for, including the following:
You may experience periods that are longer, shorter, heavier or lighter, and you may skip periods or have periods that come very close together.
Estrogen plays a key role in vaginal lubrication, and when levels decline, it can trigger vaginal dryness, which can lead to painful intercourse.
More than two-thirds of women experience these sweaty symptoms as a result of changes in estrogen levels, and when they happen at night, they can interrupt sleep.
Depression, increased irritability, and mood swings can result when your hormone levels change.
When estrogen levels change, it can lead some women to experience issues like brain fog, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and cloudy thinking.
Estrogen plays a key role in bone health, and as levels decline, you may experience bone loss and an increased risk of developing osteoporosis.
Although declining estrogen levels are a natural part of the female reproductive cycle, it doesn’t mean you have to live with troublesome symptoms. The providers at Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare can recommend different treatments based on your needs and unique symptoms.
To learn more about perimenopause and menopause, book an appointment online or over the phone with Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare today.