Women's Health

Perimenopause: Understanding the transition

Middle aged woman going through perimenopause, holding a personal sized fan.


By Laura Twist, MD

Perimenopause, often referred to as the “menopausal transition,” marks a significant phase in a woman’s life, characterized by hormonal fluctuations and various physical and emotional changes. While menopause itself signifies the end of menstrual cycles, perimenopause encompasses the years leading up to this milestone, typically starting in a woman’s 40s but sometimes occurring earlier. In recent years, increased awareness and research have shed new light on perimenopause, leading to a better understanding of its complexities and implications for women’s health and well-being.

Advances in symptom management of perimenopause

One primary focus of recent developments in perimenopause research has been on symptom management. Hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and sleep disturbances are among the most common symptoms experienced during this transitional phase. While hormone therapy has traditionally been a go-to treatment for alleviating symptoms, recent studies have explored alternative approaches. From lifestyle modifications to dietary changes and mindfulness practices, women now have a broader array of options to manage their symptoms effectively. Consult with your doctor on symptom management.

Find a gynecologist near me

Hormone replacement therapy revisited

The debate surrounding hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in perimenopause and menopause has been ongoing for decades. While HRT can provide relief from symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness, concerns about its long-term risks, such as an increased risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease, have prompted caution. Recent research has sought to clarify the risks and benefits of HRT, including identifying subgroups of women who may benefit more from this treatment and exploring alternative formulations with potentially fewer adverse effects.

Related content: Myth busters: separating fact from fiction about breast cancer

Cardiovascular health and bone density during perimenopause

Perimenopause brings about hormonal changes that can impact cardiovascular health and bone density. Estrogen, which declines during this phase, plays a crucial role in maintaining cardiovascular function and bone health. Recent studies have delved into understanding the mechanisms behind these changes and identifying strategies to mitigate associated risks. From lifestyle interventions to pharmacological treatments including HRT, efforts are underway to safeguard women’s cardiovascular and skeletal health during the menopausal transition.

Related Content: Heart disease in women: Uncovering the silent killer

Mental health and well-being during perimenopause

The hormonal fluctuations and life changes associated with perimenopause can also affect mental health and emotional well-being. Anxiety, depression, irritability and mood swings are among the psychological symptoms commonly reported by women during this phase. Recognizing the impact of perimenopause on mental health, recent initiatives have focused on improving support systems, increasing awareness, and enhancing access to mental health resources tailored to the needs of women navigating this transitional period.

Related Content: Stretch your summer: Mindful practices and mental health strategies

Empowering women through education and support

Empowering women with knowledge about perimenopause and its potential effects is essential for promoting health and well-being during this phase of life. Recent efforts have been made to improve education and support for women experiencing perimenopausal symptoms. From online resources and support groups to specialized healthcare services, initiatives aim to provide women with the information and support they need to navigate perimenopause with confidence.

Learn more about women’s health services at Nuvance Health

The bottom line: The latest developments in perimenopause research and healthcare underscore the importance of understanding and addressing the unique needs of women during this transitional phase. By advancing our knowledge of perimenopause and enhancing support systems for women, we can empower individuals to embrace this natural stage of life with vitality and resilience.

Learn more about Dr. Twist