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Understanding Perimenopause: Symptoms, Mental Health and Anaemia Risks

| Updated: March 7, 2024 20:14

Namita Thapar, an executive director at Emcure Pharmaceuticals and a judge on Shark Tank India, recently opened up about her struggles with perimenopause. Through a video shared on Instagram and during her appearance on the business TV show, she shed light on the challenges faced during this transitional phase in a woman’s life.  The post has reached over 5 lakh views and netizens have filled the comments section with different responses.

Along with the video, Namita posted a caption where she shared her struggles related to perimenopause. She Wrote , “Women often neglect their health and remain silent. Through the @sharktank.india platform, I’ve openly discussed my mental health, IVF experiences, fitness journey, and now perimenopause. Menopause marks the complete stoppage of periods, while perimenopause, occurring 2-10 years before menopause, brings erratic periods. Typically starting in the mid-40s, perimenopause brings mood swings, insomnia, hot flashes, and other symptoms. Unfortunately, many women are unaware of these signs and treatment options, making this phase challenging and disruptive. My journey has been tough, but I’m glad to use the Matri pitch to raise awareness and empower women to prioritize their health!”

Here’s all you need to know about Perimenopause, its Symptoms, Can Perimenopause lead to Anaemia and Does it affect mental health?

What is Perimenopause?

Perimenopause is the transitional time around menopause. Menopause is when a woman’s periods stop. It’s marked by changes in the menstrual cycle, along with other physical and emotional symptoms. This time can last 2 to 10 years. Perimenopause is a natural process caused when your ovaries gradually stop working. Ovulation may become erratic and then stop. The menstrual cycle lengthens and flow may become irregular before your final period. During this time, your body:

  • Releases eggs less regularly
  • Produces less estrogen and other hormones
  • Becomes less fertile
  • Has shorter and more irregular menstrual cycles

Symptoms Of Perimenopause

Perimenopause is a stage in a woman’s life when her body is transitioning toward menopause. During this time, various symptoms may occur as a result of hormonal changes. Common perimenopause symptoms include:

  • Irregular Periods: Menstrual cycles may become unpredictable in terms of timing and flow.
  • Hot Flashes: Sudden feelings of warmth, often accompanied by sweating and a flushed face.
  • Night Sweats: Experiencing intense sweating during sleep, leading to waking up damp or soaked.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, which can contribute to fatigue.
  • Mood Swings: Fluctuations in mood, ranging from irritability and anxiety to sadness.
  • Vaginal Dryness: Reduced moisture in the vaginal area, leading to discomfort or pain during intercourse.
  • Weight Gain: Many women may notice weight gain, especially around the abdomen.
  • Changes In Skin And Hair: Thinning hair, dry skin, and increased facial hair growth may occur.
  • Memory And Concentration Issues: Some women may experience forgetfulness or difficulty concentrating.

Can Perimenopause lead to Anaemia

Several factors related to perimenopause can lead to the onset of anemia in certain women. Below are some ways in which perimenopause can be associated with anemia:

  1. Heavy Menstrual Bleeding: As women enter perimenopause, their menstrual cycles may become irregular, and some may experience heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding. This increased blood loss can result in iron deficiency since iron is crucial for hemoglobin production in red blood cells. If the body loses more iron through menstruation than it can replenish through diet, it may lead to iron deficiency anemia.
  2. Decreased Iron Absorption: Aging can impact the body’s ability to absorb iron from the diet. Perimenopausal women may undergo changes in their gastrointestinal tract that affect iron absorption, potentially resulting in insufficient iron levels in the body and subsequent anemia.
  3. Changes in Diet and Nutrient Intake: Women undergoing perimenopause may alter their dietary habits, potentially leading to inadequate intake of iron and other essential nutrients. A diet lacking in iron-rich foods can contribute to the development of anemia.
  4. Hormonal Fluctuations: Hormonal changes, particularly a decline in estrogen levels, can influence the menstrual cycle and contribute to irregular and heavy periods during perimenopause. Estrogen is vital for maintaining the health of the uterine lining, and its reduction can lead to increased menstrual bleeding, potentially exacerbating the risk of anemia.
  5. Gastrointestinal Issues: Perimenopausal women may be more prone to gastrointestinal problems, such as gastritis or gastrointestinal bleeding, which can impact iron absorption and contribute to the development of anemia.

Does it affect mental health?

The hormonal changes that occur during perimenopause, particularly alterations in estrogen levels, can have various effects on mood and mental well-being. Here are some ways in which perimenopause may impact mental health:

  1. Mood Swings: Hormonal fluctuations can lead to mood swings, resulting in feelings of irritability, anxiety, and occasional episodes of low mood or depression.
  2. Sleep Disturbances: Insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns are common during perimenopause. Poor-quality sleep can negatively affect mood and contribute to feelings of stress or irritability.
  3. Anxiety: Hormonal changes can contribute to heightened feelings of anxiety or worsen existing anxiety disorders.
  4. Depression: Although not everyone experiences depression during perimenopause, hormonal fluctuations may lead to feelings of sadness or depression in some women.
  5. Irritability and Stress: Hormonal changes may increase susceptibility to feelings of irritability and stress during perimenopause.

How is Perimenopause Treated?

Treatment for perimenopause isn’t usually necessary unless symptoms are troublesome. Treatment options may involve:

  1. Hormone therapy: This can include estrogen alone or a combination of estrogen and progestins to balance hormone levels.
  2. Antidepressants: These medications may be prescribed to stabilize mood swings and manage mood-related symptoms.

Your healthcare provider might recommend additional lifestyle adjustments:

  • Maintain a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Ensure a daily intake of 1,000-1,200 mg of calcium through diet or supplements.
  • Engage in regular exercise.
  • Identify triggers for hot flashes, such as alcohol, coffee, or tea, by maintaining a record.

Thapar’s openness about her experiences with perimenopause has sparked conversations and raised awareness about this often overlooked phase in women’s lives. It serves as a reminder for women to prioritize their health, seek support, and educate themselves about the symptoms and potential risks associated with perimenopause.

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