We all know menopause as that dreaded stage of life when wacky hormones bring hot flashes, mood swings and weight gain as our menstrual period comes to an end. But what about the time period leading up to menopause? Perimenopause may be less talked about, but it is a stage of life that can be equally frustrating and disrupted by hormone fluctuations.
Perimenopause refers to the time in which a woman’s body makes its natural transition toward permanent infertility (menopause). Women go through perimenopause at different ages, but the most common time is around the early 40s. The level of estrogen rises and falls unevenly during perimenopause causing the menstrual cycles to lengthen or shorten and to become heavier or lighter. Many women also experience symptoms similar to menopause, such as hot flashes, sleep problems and vaginal dryness. Unfortunately, this phase can last longer than you want it to.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, “the average length of perimenopause is about four years. Some people may only be in this stage for a few months, while others will be in this transition phase for more than four years.” Once it has been more than 12 months since your last monthly period, you can consider yourself out of perimenopause.
You Can Still Get Treatment
Just because you are not in full blown menopause, doesn’t mean you don’t qualify for treatment. As your trusted physicians at North Pointe OB/GYN, we understand the setbacks of menopause as well as the frustrations of perimenopause that lead up to this stage of life. This transition phase can be difficult to manage on your own, especially if you are not expecting it at such an early age. Some women experience the onset of perimenopause in their 30’s!
Women typically notice a change in their menstrual cycles or length of periods when perimenopause begins. The following are considered common warning signs that you may be in the inevitable stage of perimenopause:
- Irregular periods
- Hot flashes and sleep problems
- Mood changes
- Vaginal and bladder problems
- Decreasing fertility
- Changes in sexual function
- Loss of bone
- Changing cholesterol levels
Depending on your tolerance for hormone replacement, we can recommend conventional menopause therapy as well as holistic therapies such as lifestyle adjustments and supplements to manage your symptoms. Call North Point OB/GYN today to book your consult in Cumming. We believe in a better quality of life – despite your changing hormones.
It’s no surprise that pregnancy causes changes throughout the body. While most of these changes are healthy and necessary, there may also be some changes that need attention. It is critical that you attend your regularly scheduled prenatal visits to ensure unhealthy body changes don’t go unnoticed and cause harm to your unborn baby. One of the concerns that your doctor will monitor closely throughout your prenatal care is your blood pressure.
As your heart is working overtime to support the growth of a fetus, it is understandable that your blood pressure may change a bit during pregnancy. During the first two trimesters, it is not uncommon for your blood pressure to drop. This is due to released hormones in early pregnancy that relax blood vessels. Blood pressure can also be lower than normal during these initial weeks due to dehydration, or when an expectant mom has not yet increased her water intake to suitable levels.
By the time the third trimester begins, however, your blood pressure may swing to be higher than normal instead of lower. At this point, your body is producing an extra pint of blood to support the pregnancy so it can naturally increase. Healthy blood pressure is measured at 120/80 mm Hg or below. When it’s elevated beyond these measurements, it is considered hypertension (or high blood pressure). High blood pressure is not ideal for any patient, but especially those that are pregnant.
While not all forms of hypertension during pregnancy are cause for serious concern, it is important to let your OB manage your condition. Gestational hypertension is temporary and may not be noticeable. However, it does put you at risk for preeclampsia, a serious complication of high blood pressure during pregnancy.
Symptoms of Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia typically develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy and is marked by the following symptoms or warning signs:
- Pain in your upper abdomen
- Poor liver function
- Protein in your urine
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden weight gain
- Swelling in your hands or feet
- Vision changes
Why is Preeclampsia Serious?
Preeclampsia can be life-threatening for both mother and baby! This type of high blood pressure can cause damage to the mother’s organs as well as low birth weight, premature birth and a higher risk of infection for the baby.
What is your risk factor for high blood pressure during pregnancy? We can help you at North Pointe OB/GYN. Our Cumming obstetricians can provide complete prenatal care that also includes managing your gestational hypertension or preeclampsia. Our highest priority is keeping mothers and babies safe.