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Understanding Your Periods Before Menopause

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 8 Sep 2013 | comments*Discuss
Menopause Periods Menstrual Cycle Heavy

For some women, changes to their periods are one of the first signs of menopause that they experience. The change can be to the heaviness of their flow or the frequency. You may find that one month you miss a period but then have two in the next.

Hormonal Changes Before Menopause

Your periods are the result of natural processes involving hormones. It is therefore not a surprise that when your hormones shift in the years coming up to menopause, periods are affected. These changes to your periods can occur shortly before you reach menopause or they can start occurring even a decade sooner.

It is a very small percentage of women who will reach menopause with few to no symptoms at all. For a number of women, in fact, irregular period frequency and flow may begin ten to fifteen years before they reach menopause.

Other symptoms that may occur alongside changes to periods are hot flushes, breast tenderness and mood swings. When occurring with periods, it is likely that your irregular periods are a sign of menopause.

There is no way yet to predict exactly when the signs of menopause may occur. Research, however, is ongoing into this area, with hopes of helping women make better family planning decisions.

Unpredictable Periods

Some women will find they experience spotting, bleeding in the middle of their cycle or very heavy periods. It tends to be unique to each woman and there is no way to predict how a woman’s periods will be affected by changes to hormones.

Even the length of time from one period to another can be influenced. This unpredictable aspect of periods is often frustrating for women, particularly as they can be taken by surprise with their period or may suffer cramps when they normally don’t have this issue.

Other Conditions and Your Menstrual Cycle

It’s also still wise to see your doctor if your periods begin to change. It is likely the beginnings of the menopausal transition if you are experiencing other menopause symptoms and in particular, you are near the average age of menopause.

You should, however, still keep in mind that it could be another condition that is affecting your period such as a thyroid problem or even stress. Other problems could be ovarian cysts or even cancer. Where bleeding is particularly heavy, a woman is also more likely to become anaemic, so it’s important to ensure you are consuming enough iron-rich foods.

Handling Periods Before Menopause

There is not much you can do prior to menopause in terms of changing the pattern of your periods. It is best to make sure that you have a healthy diet and lifestyle.

In particular, maintaining a healthy body weight can support the changes leading up to menopause. Some studies have suggested that those who are not at or near a healthy body weight may be more likely to experience the signs and symptoms of menopause. Ensure you are prepared to handle an unexpected period or one with heavy bleeding. Fortunately, you are not alone and changes to your period are a common part of menopause.

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Can you tell me if it is normal to see spotting, bleeding after two years of not having any period?
bopha - 8-Sep-13 @ 5:53 PM
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