Being female comes with a variety of amazing experiences. Yet, it can also bring its share of challenges and difficulties as well. That is especially true when it comes to the reproductive cycles that women experience over their lifetimes.
Perhaps one of the most commonly known challenges facing women is menopause. Menopause is something that is a bit of a taboo topic, though recent years have been chipping away at that taboo. However, menopause is far from the only disruption a woman might experience in her life.
Something less well-known but closely related to menopause is called perimenopause. This time period in a woman’s life may bring some surprises, and it’s good to be aware of what may happen as hormone levels change and fluctuate during perimenopause. Let’s explore what perimenopause is and some of the things that you may experience as you enter this stage, including increased symptoms of high anxiety in the mornings.
First of all, knowing what perimenopause is and what it means for women is where we want to start. For those who may not have heard of perimenopause before, it basically translates to “around menopause,” according to Mayo Clinic’s website. It signals that your body is beginning to move toward menopause, which is when a woman no longer gets her monthly period.
During perimenopause, hormone levels tend to fluctuate. Estrogen, in particular, will increase or decrease throughout this time. A change in how much estrogen your body has can impact the symptoms you might experience in both perimenopause and menopause. Premenopausal women might experience sleep problems, weight gain, feelings of anxiety, hormonal shifts, hot flushes, night sweats, or even symptoms of depression.
As with anything related to health, perimenopause will be different for each person. The same goes for when someone enters perimenopause. Women may start perimenopause sometime in their mid-30s, or they might experience it once they reach age 40 and up.
Since perimenopause has to do with menstrual cycles, one of the more common perimenopausal symptoms women experience is when her monthly cycle becomes erratic, and she begins to have irregular periods. Mayo Clinic notes that this can encompass a range of things, from missing a period to experiencing more bleeding one month. It may also mean that periods occur less often.
Those just entering perimenopause might notice that the length of their periods fluctuates by around seven days. Late perimenopause often involves going more than 60 days without having a menstrual cycle.
As with menopause, perimenopause may also bring on hot flashes. They may cause sleep disorders, but perimenopause, in general, can also be responsible for a sleep disturbance.
A noticeable change or two in menstrual cycles may not be a surprising symptom of perimenopause. One rather unexpected sign of perimenopause can be a change in cholesterol levels. Your LDL levels may increase, and HDL levels may actually decrease during this time.
In addition to the symptoms noted above, perimenopause can also cause some shifts in mood. These mood changes might mean you feel more irritable at times or that you feel depressed at other times. This could be related to a number of physical changes, including hormonal fluctuations and even the disruption of sleep (and lack of good sleep) that might occur with perimenopause.
As part of a general shift in moods, you may notice some anxiety as you enter perimenopause. To be sure, anxiety can come with entering this period of life when you may not know what exactly you can expect from your body.
Some people can also experience an increase in anxiety during perimenopause. For some women, this increased anxiety is actually more prevalent in the mornings. This could be because estrogen levels are closely tied to cortisol levels, which is a hormone that tends to increase with feelings of stress.
When estrogen levels dip lower, that can make cortisol rise. As a stress hormone, cortisol could then be contributing to a feeling of increased anxiety for a lot of women in the mornings.
Experiencing mood swings or increased anxiety as you go through perimenopause is relatively common. Each woman is different and will experience different symptoms. Dealing with perimenopausal anxiety in the morning will depend a bit on each person as well.
An important thing to remember is that you are the one that knows your body and your moods best. Adding regular exercise like yoga or meditation to your morning routine may help relieve some of your anxiety symptoms. In other cases, this may not be enough. If you feel that your anxiety or other emotional symptoms have increased to the point of interfering with your ability to function in your everyday life, you may want to talk with your healthcare provider. She can work with you to find the right treatments to help you through perimenopause.
Similarly, if your perimenopausal anxiety becomes severe or causes panic attacks, you will want to speak with a trusted healthcare professional right away. They may suggest a variety of options, from changing your diet to trying a few herbs, supplements, or prescription medicine to help relieve that anxiety.
Becoming aware of what perimenopause is and what you might expect is a great way to be prepared. Keep track of any changes in your menstrual cycle or any concerning symptoms, such as a noticeable increase in anxiety (especially severe anxiety) in the morning so that you can discuss them with your doctor. It’s a good idea to be proactive about managing any mental health symptoms, including perimenopausal mood swings, emotional changes, or even a basic loss of interest in things that used to be important to you.