How Is Early Menopause Diagnosed
The time leading into menopause is called perimenopause. During this time, you may have irregular periods and other symptoms that come and go.
Youre generally considered to be in menopause if you go 12 months without menstrual bleeding, and you dont have another medical condition to explain your symptoms.
Tests arent usually needed to diagnose menopause. Most women can self-diagnose menopause based on their symptoms. But if you think youre experiencing early menopause, you may want to see your doctor to be sure.
Your doctor can order hormone tests to help determine whether your symptoms are due to perimenopause or another condition. These are the most common hormones to check:
- Anti-Mullerian hormone . The
When To Contact A Doctor
Having a light period is not usually a cause for concern. However, if someone has consistently light periods or starts skipping periods altogether, they should talk with a doctor.
A person should also contact a doctor if a light period coincides with other symptoms that are causing concern, such as pelvic pain.
Menopause Symptoms Can Feel Like Pms
Some women develop symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome for the first time or have more acute levels of their normal PMS. These symptoms can be physical, psychological, or emotional. Most of us will have had some level of PMS during the second half of the monthly cycle over the years. Symptoms may have been getting stronger during your 30s and 40s, approaching menopause. Most common symptoms are irritability, aggression, tearfulness, mood swings, breast pain and fluid retention.
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When To Call Your Provider
While some of the causes of frequent periods are not serious and don’t need treatment, dont assume thats the case if you have two periods in one month.
- Your period becomes irregular, especially if its sudden or without an obvious cause
- Your periods are less than 21 days apart
- You have a period that lasts more than seven days
- You have an unusually heavy or painful period
- You bleed between periods
- You bleed at all after menopause
Heavy Bleeding Flooding And Perimenopause
Very heavy bleeding occurs when your oestrogen levels are high relative to progesterone causing the lining of your womb to thicken more than usual. During perimenopause, your body’s main systems are working hard to adjust to the changing hormone levels that are taking place in advance of full menopause. The most difficult situation to handle is probably very heavy, extended bleeding, or flooding cycles. Some women find they are changing tampons every hour, sometimes having a very heavy bleed during inopportune times for example, at a formal dinner. This often happens at night as well as during the day. Make sure to wear liners and change tampons or pads very regularly.
If you have recurrent heavy and prolonged periods you may become anaemic as the body doesnt have time to make up for blood loss before the next period. You can end up feeling weak, exhausted, and maybe even depressed as a result of the anaemia, which then becomes associated with the menopause. Make sure to get help early on and don’t the situation develop.
Very heavy bleeding can also be caused by fibroids. If you experience prolonged heavy bleeding, seek professional advice from your GP, homoeopath or another health expert. Vaginal bleeding is not normal after the menopause so again get professional advice if this occurs.
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The Likeliest Cause Of Abnormal Uterine Bleeding: Ovulation
You ovulate about day 14 of your cycle. For many women, the days around ovulation go completely unnoticed. But for some, ovulation is an event they notice other associated symptoms around. Those symptoms can include light spotting.
During reproductive ages, the ovary releases an oocyte every month. This event occurs when ovary follicles rupture and release the oocyte, which travels to the fallopian tube and becomes an ovum or egg. The rupture of the ovary follicles can cause some light spotting and some women can even feel it happen.
When To See Your Healthcare Provider
Many of us avoid consulting medical professionals about menstrual or intermenstrual concerns. However, if youre anxious or stressed due to uncertainty, its always worth talking to your healthcare provider about non-period bleeding.
If theres nothing to worry about and it’s normal vaginal bleeding, theyll be able to set your mind at ease. However, there are times when spotting, breakthrough bleeding, or other bleeding between periods could be a cause for concern. And if thats the case, the sooner you see your healthcare provider, the better.
If spotting is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, you should definitely seek medical advice.
- Heavy periods with a lot of clotting
- Irregular periods
- Pain or a burning sensation when peeing
- Unusual vaginal discharge and/or redness and itchiness
Even if you dont have any of the above symptoms, dont ever ignore spotting, abnormal vaginal bleeding, or abnormal uterine bleeding in the following situations:
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What Are Irregular Periods
You have irregular periods if the length of your menstrual cycle keeps changing.
Your periods may come early or late.
The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, although it’s normal for it to be a bit shorter or longer than this.
After puberty, many women develop a regular cycle with a similar length of time between periods. But it’s not uncommon for it to vary by a few days each time.
What Treatments Are Available For Prolonged Menstrual Bleeding
Many causes of prolonged bleeding can be treated with birth control pills of estrogen and progesterone. This not only provides contraception, it can regulate hormone production and so treat bleeding caused by hormones. Birth control pills generally decrease the overall amount of flow and so should lessen the length of your period, Thielen says.
In some cases, such as for endometrial hyperplasia, the hormone progestin may be prescribed alone.
Other medicines may also be used. Lysteda is a prescription drug that treats heavy menstrual bleeding. It comes in a tablet and is taken each month at the start of the menstrual period.
Prolonged bleeding caused by uterine fibroids can be treated with medication or with minimally invasive procedures such as endometrial ablation, uterine artery embolism, or laparoscopic surgery . In severe cases an abdominal myomectomy or a hysterectomy may be recommended.
Treating endometriosis can be challenging. Surgery to remove the unwanted lesions seems to provide the most long-last results.
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My Experience Of Periods Changing Prior To Menopause By Aisling Grimley Founder My Second Spring
“At 47 I missed my period one month and thought I might be pregnant as I also experienced some hormone surges that reminded me of pregnancy. I had some red rage moments and very tender breasts.
During the following 5/6 years of perimenopause, I went through times of having regular monthly periods in my classic pattern for a few months. Then I might skip up to 6 months only to have periods return to normal again. During the gaps with no period, I sometimes had PMS like symptoms and mild cramps when I reckon I should have had a period. Sometimes my cramps were very painful, at other times I had no pain at all. My last periods were quite light and I never experienced flooding but I know it is very usual to have one or two very heavy periods before they stop altogether.
At 53 I had my last period and I am now period-free for 15 months so I declare myself to be in The Menopause!” Aisling
Uterine Polyps Or Fibroids
Uterine polyps are soft growths in the endometrium. They can be as small as a sesame seed or larger than a golf ball.
You can have one or multiple polyps, which are usually not cancerous. They’re more common with age and rare in people under 20.
Symptoms of uterine polyps include:
- Post-menopausal bleeding or spotting
- Bleeding after vaginal penetration
Uterine fibroids are growths in the muscle tissue rather than the endometrium. They’re also called leiomyomas, myomas, or fibromas.
Fibroids can be inside or outside the uterus. As with polyps, you can have one or several.
Symptoms of uterine fibroids include:
- Bloating and swelling in the abdomen
- Frequent urination and being unable to empty your bladder
- Pain during vaginal penetration
- Vaginal discharge
Both polyps and fibroids can cause problems with your menstrual cycle. You may have more frequent periods , longer and heavier periods, and bleeding between periods.
Uterine growths can also affect your fertility and may even cause miscarriages.
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Causes Of Irregular Periods
There are many possible causes of irregular periods. Sometimes they may just be normal for you.
Common causes include:
- puberty your periods might be irregular for the first year or two
- the start of the menopause
- early pregnancy take a pregnancy test to rule this out
- some types of hormonal contraception such as the contraceptive pill or intrauterine system
- extreme weight loss or weight gain, excessive exercise or stress
- medical conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome or a problem with your thyroid
Is It Ovulation Or Anearly Period
Ovulation usually occurs in the middle of your cycle, and that can roughly be two weeks before youre supposed to get your period. Therefore, what you think is your period coming early, could actually just be spotting.
Spotting is caused by normal hormone fluctuations in your cycle and can be recognized by the color and length of bleeding. The main difference between your period coming earlyand entering ovulation is that spotting is much lighter and doesnt increase in volume.
It only lasts for about one or two days and is usually pink or red in color. Some light cramping can be expected, too.
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You’ve Recently Taken Emergency Contraception
If youve taken an emergency contraceptive and found that you bled shortly after, its because the hormone levels in Plan B, for example, are similar but higher than the ones released in your body when you use birth control, resulting in spotting. Dr. Lincoln describes it as short-term and not harmful to your body.
Why Are You Bleeding Again 7 Days After The Period
Bleeding a week after period is a frustrating and stressful experience since you dont have any idea why they would occur between periods. Perhaps your period has ended in the past week but then you found out youre spotting again. Perhaps this is the first time youve experienced blooding or spotting after your period or it could be the second or third time that you notice youre bleeding again. Whether bleeding or spotting between periods occurred to you for the first time or in frequent occasions, still it is a frightening experience.
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What Happens During Puberty
Puberty begins when an area of the brain called the hypothalamus starts signaling to the rest of the body that it is time to develop adult characteristics.
It sends these signals through hormones, which cause reproductive organs the ovaries in females and the testes in males to produce a range of other hormones. These hormones cause growth and changes in various parts of the body, including the:
- external reproductive organs
The skin becomes oily and the body produces more sweat. Many people develop some form of acne. Some people start using deodorant.
Changes in hormones also affect the persons emotions and thoughts. Puberty usually has the following psychological effects:
- heightened emotions
- the start of sexual thoughts and desires
- the start of sexual and romantic attractions to others
During puberty, many people begin to explore their sexuality and start to figure out whether they are homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual, or have another identity. This is totally normal, and each persons experience is different.
Not everyone will have feelings of attraction for others, and this is nothing to worry about either. People who do not develop sexual attraction may choose to identify as asexual.
During puberty, some people begin to notice that their gender identity how much they feel like a girl, a boy, or neither does not match their body. If this happens, the physical changes of puberty can cause emotional distress known as gender dysphoria.
Understand Your Reproductive Options Ahead Of Time
Endometrial ablation isnt meant to be a sterilization procedure, but it usually is. Although your reproductive organs remain intact, conception and successful pregnancy afterward is unlikely.
If youre planning to have children, you should choose to wait to have this procedure. You should discuss your reproductive options with an infertility specialist before having the procedure.
Your healthcare provider can test your egg quality and quantity through an anti-Müllerian hormone or follicle-stimulating hormone blood test. If your eggs are of good quality, you can opt to freeze your eggs or fertilized embryos prior to the procedure.
Although it isnt guaranteed that frozen eggs or embryos will result in pregnancy, having them may provide this option later on. A surrogate might carry the pregnancy for you.
If freezing your eggs or embryos isnt an option, you may decide to use an egg donor and a surrogate to conceive. If you can choose to delay the procedure until you have children, you might want to do so. Adoption is also a consideration.
Weighing these options, as well as the need for the procedure, may feel overwhelming. Talking to your healthcare provider about your feelings may be beneficial. They can recommend a counselor or therapist to help you process and provide you with support.
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You Have Uterine Or Cervical Polyps Or Fibroids
Uterine issues like polyps or fibroidsbenign lesions or tumors that can grow in the uterusare very common and may be related to hormonal issues. Uterine polyps can cause bleeding in between periods, says Dr. Dweck, especially if they are touched, like during sex, and fibroids can cause pain, back pain, abdominal bloating, anemia, pain with intercourse, and spontaneous bleeding because theyre not associated with the menstrual cycle, explains Dr. Richardson.
While fibroids can affect women of any age or race, Black women are about three times more likely to develop them compared to white women, and their symptoms tend to emerge at an earlier age with greater severity. Its unclear why exactly Black women are disproportionately impacted by fibroids, but some studies suggest that greater exposure to racial discrimination or genetics could play a role.
As the Black Womens Health Imperative notes, heavy, painful periods may seem like a fact of life since theyre so commonand many women wait years to seek treatment for fibroidsbut you dont have to needlessly suffer.
Changes To Your Hormone Levels
Young women often spot, or bleed very slightly, when they ovulate . It happens about 10 to 14 days after their period and is usually caused by a temporary drop in levels of the hormone oestrogen. This is quite normal.
As well as reduced oestrogen levels, you may also experience other hormonal imbalances, which are completely harmless. This could be as a result of stress, or a recent change of diet.
Girls who have just started their periods and women going through menopause are more likely to have irregular periods, which can be confused with bleeding between periods.
Your doctor may take a blood test to investigate your hormone levels and will advise you on possible treatments.
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You Have Suddenly Put On Some Body Weight
The body weight of a woman plays an important role in her menstrual cycle. Women with low body weight may experience delayed or fewer periods. However, with the sudden rise in the body weight the odds are high that you will have periods that last more than 3 weeks. High body fat increases the estrogen level in the body. Estrogen regulates the menstrual cycle at multiple levels. Higher levels of estrogen can lead to heavy and longer periods.
What Are Possible Complications From A Long Period
Delaying a diagnosis could result in a more invasive procedure or intensive treatment for the underlying cause.
Additionally, if your long period causes heavier blood loss, you could be at risk of developing anemia. This may contribute to feelings of tiredness and weakness.
Your doctor can use results from a blood test to diagnose anemia. If your iron levels are low, your doctor may recommend boosting your diet with iron-rich foods and a possible iron supplement to get your levels back to normal.
Long periods may also be painful and interfere with your well-being and quality of life. You may miss days of school or work, or withdraw from activities you enjoy because of your long period.
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Symptoms Of Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
- bleeding for more than eight days
- heavy blood loss during the menstrual period for example, soaking through one or more sanitary pads or tampons every hour for several hours in a row
- needing to change your pad or tampon during the night
- have to change or restrict your daily activities due to your heavy bleeding
- bleeding or spotting between periods
- cramping and pain in the lower abdomen
- any vaginal bleeding after menopause.
If you think you may be experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding, you may find it useful to keep a pictorial blood loss assessment chart this can help you give your doctor an idea of how heavy your period is.