You've probably heard of menopause, the change that marks the end of
your reproductive years. But symptoms associated with menopause can begin
much earlier, during a phase known as perimenopause or the menopausal
Perimenopause begins before menopause. It most commonly starts in a woman's
40s. During this time the ovaries gradually begin making less estrogen.
Menopause is defined as going a year without a menstrual period, but perimenopausal
symptoms can start before and last after this point.
Perimenopause is different for every woman. For some lucky women, the menopausal
transition lasts less than a year. They have a few hot flashes and barely
notice. But for other women it can last several years and lead to hot
flashes, night sweats, heavy bleeding and mood swings.
"It can be hard because some of their friends and family are telling
them it's nothing,” Dr. Wilder said. "If you feel like
a freak and something is wrong with you, you're probably within the
realm of normal—just not something you knew was normal."
Many women don't realize there are ways to make the menopausal transition
a little easier. Dramatic headlines in the late 90s and early 2000s scared
many women away from hormone-replacement therapy. But more recent studies
have found the risk of life-threatening events like breast cancer and
heart attacks is very small.
"That message never got out,” Dr. Wilder said. "Only the
scary message of breast cancer. As it turns out, that risk is very, very
small. It's a much more complex issue, which is why you never hear
about it in the media. You can't talk about it in sound bites."
Dr. Wilder educates her patients so they can make the best choice for their
own situation. If you want to make an appointment with Dr. Wilder or any
of our experienced, compassionate providers at Columbia River Women's
Center, please call 541.296.5657.