NPR

Menopause Starts Younger Than You Think: Here's What You Need To Know

Would you recognize the signs that your body is going through the big hormonal changes that lead to menopause? Here's what to look for — and what you can do about it.
Source: Katherine Streeter for NPR

Sarah Edrie says she was about 33 when she started to occasionally get a sudden, hot, prickly feeling that radiated into her neck and face, leaving her flushed and breathless. "Sometimes I would sweat. And my heart would race," she says. The sensations subsided in a few moments, and seemed to meet the criteria for a panic attack. But Edrie, who has no personal or family history of anxiety, was baffled.

She told her doctor and her gynecologist about the episodes, along with a few other health concerns she was starting to notice: Her menstrual cycle was becoming irregular, she had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, and she was getting night sweats. Their response: a shrug.

It wasn't until Edrie went to a fertility clinic at age 39, because she and her partner were having trouble conceiving, that she got answers. "They were like, 'Oh, those are hot flashes. It's because you're in perimenopause,'" she says.

If you haven't heard the term "perimenopause," you're not alone. Often when women talk about going through menopause, what they're really talking about is perimenopause, a transitional stage when who directs the Women's Mood Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins University.

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