As you get older and make your way towards menopause, your body will begin changing in a few different ways, and one of the symptoms of those changes is having irregular periods. At first, you might be concerned about what your irregular cycle means, but you probably don’t have anything to worry about, as this is a normal process that many women go through.
Of course, you can talk to your doctor if you are worried at all about any symptoms that you are experiencing leading up to menopause, but if you want some information on the link between an irregular menstrual cycle and menopause, we’ve compiled some helpful information below for you to check out.
Are Irregular Periods Something to Worry about as you Approach Menopause?
Many women will find that their otherwise regular menstrual cycle will change to an irregular one as they approach menopause. In fact, irregular periods could be one of your first symptoms when you are in perimenopause, which can last anywhere from 2 to 10 years before menopause.
Perimenopause, which is also referred to as menopause transition, lasts an average of 4 years. It is defined as the time during which your ovaries will start producing less estrogen. This occurs gradually, so you could reach perimenopause in your 40s or even in your 30s, and it ends once you have gone a full 12 months without getting your period. Every woman is different, so the year in which you start your menopause transition is not set in stone.
Also, you may not even experience the symptoms of this transition until the last couple of years of perimenopause, as this is the time during which your estrogen will drop more rapidly. Once perimenopause has started, it will last until you reach menopause, which is the point at which your ovaries no longer release eggs.
What are the Symptoms of an Irregular Period During Perimenopause?
As you start to experience irregular periods, you might notice that they occur more frequently or less frequently than they used to. Or you might notice that your periods are longer or shorter than they used to be. Some women might even go months without getting their period before suddenly getting it again. Others may experience spotting in between their already irregular periods, thanks to fluctuations in hormone levels as the body changes.
Just keep in mind that, even though you might be making your way towards menopause and your periods are irregular, it does not mean that you can’t get pregnant. You may not be as fertile as you used to be, but the chance of conceiving may still be there.
Again, it is important to keep in mind that every woman’s body is unique, so what one woman experiences could be vastly different from what another woman goes through.
Why does Menopause cause Irregular Periods?
In order to understand why the time leading up to menopause causes your body to have irregular periods, you need to have an understanding of the hormones that affect your periods in the first place.
Put simply, your menstrual cycle is regulated by progesterone and estrogen. Normally, the levels of progesterone and estrogen will rise and fall in a consistent pattern when you are experiencing your usual menstrual cycle.
Typically, you would experience ovulation around the middle of your cycle and then have your period roughly two weeks later. It is during perimenopause, though, that this otherwise regular pattern starts to shift, leading to symptoms like spotting and periods that no longer occur in the same pattern.
Your levels of progesterone and estrogen decline as you get older and as you reach menopause, but these hormones will fluctuate along the way, leading to periods that are irregular. One month, your period might be light and short, while the next month, it might be heavy and long.
You might skip one or more periods, and the length of time between each period might change as well from one month to the next. This all happens because your hormone levels are in a state of flux.
Consulting with your doctor once you start experiencing these symptoms is a good idea, as he or she will be able to diagnose you and determine if you are truly in perimenopause or if there is another reason for your irregular periods.
What are the Remedies for Irregular Periods?
Having irregular periods as you reach menopause is considered normal, but if you want to get some relief, you could talk to your doctor to see if there is anything that you can do to support your body through these changes.
Some steps that you can consider taking on a daily basis include eating a healthy diet and staying active. Supporting your body with a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables, which are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, may help you feel better overall. You may also find that you feel more energized and balanced when you reduce your intake of processed foods and sugar, and some experts also recommend cutting back on your caffeine intake.
Staying physically active by exercising a few days each week might also help you maintain a state of balance, and it may even help you feel better overall. A consistent workout routine could relieve stress and tension throughout your body, and it may also be beneficial when it comes to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.
Plus, exercise might even boost your mood, so if you are going through perimenopause and experiencing mood swings along with your irregular periods, being more active could be the way to go.
Stress could have an impact on the regularity of your periods even before you enter perimenopause, so taking some extra steps to reduce the amount of stress you encounter in your daily life is also recommended. Consider making it a point to give yourself time to relax and get away from it all, even if it means just going for a relaxing walk or heading to the spa. Overall, reducing your stress level is great for your whole body, but it may also help keep your hormones balanced as well.
Other things that you could try in order to keep your body in a state of balance include getting enough sleep, which is the time during which your body is able to repair and rejuvenate itself, and quitting unhealthy habits like smoking.
With a better understanding of the connection between an irregular menstrual cycle and menopause, you could avoid some of the stress that might otherwise be caused by the changes that you encounter during perimenopause. If you aren’t sure about whether or not you’re actually going through perimenopause, or if you’re worried about what could be the actual cause of your irregular periods, be sure to talk to your doctor.
He or she will be able to discuss the symptoms of perimenopause that you should expect, as well as examine you and use a blood test to check hormone levels and determine if you’re making your way towards menopause. These steps could help put your mind at ease, but just know that irregular periods as part of menopause are typically considered normal.