Skip to main content

Perimenopause & Menopause

Perimenopause is the months and years prior to menopause. For some women the perimenopause period may be short, only a year or two. For others it may be as long as seven to ten years. Some women in their late thirties and early forties may begin to show symptoms. 

Menopause is defined as one year after menstrual periods have ended. 

  • Hot flashes, flushes, or power surges- sense of warmth that starts suddenly, usually over your face, neck, and chest
  • Related to fluctuations in estrogen, occurs only during peri-menopause when estrogen levels are decreasing
  • Fluctuating estrogen levels may cause an imbalance in the hypothalamus. The body is tricked into thinking it is too hot. To cool itself blood is rushed to the surface of the skin, therefore resulting in a flushed appearance
  • Night sweats - when hot flashes interfere with sleep
  • Vaginal dryness, itching, and irritation
  • Thinning of the vaginal lining may cause painful intercourse
  • Urinary tract infections, need to urinate frequently, burning on urination, itching in the urethra area
  • Urinary incontinence if the uterus and bladder slip lower into the pelvis
  • Osteoporosis – or bone density loss occurs when estrogen diminishes to a low level. The most rapid bone loss occurs during the first 10 years of menopause.
  • Heart rate rises after menopause. Estrogen helped to dilate the arteries. Menopausal women are at greater risk of heart attacks.
  • Skin changes with an increase in wrinkles. The decreasing estrogen levels makes the skin less elastic.
  • Women who experience a Major Depression in the postpartum period may be at greater risk of experiencing a depression in menopause. If a woman’s body is sensitive to hormonal shifts in the past, it may be sensitive to shifts in the future. However, not all women who experience a Major Depression in the postpartum period will experience a Major Depression during peri-menopause or menopause.

    Women who experience Major Depression during menopause can be successfully treated with anti-depressants alone or in conjunction with hormone replacement therapy.

    • Vitamin E may alleviate hot flashes.
    • Eat foods rich in natural estrogens - yams, lentils, oat bran, tofu, and soy milk.
    • Get plenty of relaxation and sleep - the brain regulates its biochemistry during sleep.
    • Take time for yourself. Read, keep a journal, and take a class you have always wanted.
      Exercise regularly to reduce your stress and to help regulate your sleep cycle (e.g. walking, swimming).
    • Prevent osteoporosis.
      • Take 1,500 milligrams calcium supplements each day if you don’t use estrogen.
      • Take 1,000 milligrams each day if you do use estrogen.
      • Take calcium in 500 milligram doses at a time since that is all the body can absorb at once.
      • Take calcium citrate with Vitamin D or oyster-shell calcium 0, these are the easiest to absorb.
      • Chew Tums – each Tums contains 500 milligrams of calcium.
    • Eat calcium rich foods:
      • non-fat yogurt (8 oz. = 400 milligrams of calcium)
      • skim milk ( 8 oz. = 200 milligrams)
      • cheddar or Muenster cheese ( 1 oz. = 200 milligrams)
      • soft ice cream (1 cup = 300 milligrams)
      • broccoli, soy beans, turnip greens ( 1 cup = 100 to 200 milligrams)
    Menopause & hormone replacement

    Only consider hormone replacement therapy after looking at your psychological and physical risks, your personal history, and your family history.

    SOURCE: Perimenopause & Menopause ( )
    Page printed: . Unofficial document if printed. Please refer to SOURCE for latest information.

    Copyright © BC Women's Hospital. All Rights Reserved.

      Copyright © 2023 Provincial Health Services Authority.