Many people entering late reproductive stage (LRS) assume that perimenopause marks the beginning of the end of uncomfortable period symptoms, including cramps. Yet for some, not only can cramping continue during perimenopause, but the pain associated with cramping can also become even more severe.
If you’re experiencing worsening cramps during perimenopause you’re not alone. Here are some of the factors that can contribute to your cramping, and tested strategies that may help to soothe your discomfort.
Perimenopause, also known as the menopausal transition, refers to the time when your body makes its natural transition to menopause (which is defined as having gone 12 months with no menstrual period).
During perimenopause, you may begin to experience changes and symptoms—including hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness—which are rooted in hormonal alterations, especially changing estrogen levels.
Throughout the reproductive years, estrogen levels fall and rise relatively predictably during the menstrual cycle. But once you enter perimenopause, all of that changes.
Though some may have periods that end abruptly and others may experience irregular periods for years, the changes in hormone levels during perimenopause can cause new or worsening symptoms.
Because estrogen levels often rise during perimenopause, this can cause your uterus to release more prostaglandin, which can increase the likelihood and severity of your cramps (also known as dysmenorrhea).
Cramps may also be a sign of another condition, including:
Thankfully, you don’t have to suffer through perimenopausal cramps. Research shows that there are several strategies that can help you find relief:
If cramps interrupt your quality of life and cannot be managed with at-home treatments, reach out to your doctor. It’s possible that your cramps may be a sign of another condition, like uterine fibroids or pelvic inflammatory disease.
The hormonal changes that take place during perimenopause can be difficult, but working with a specialist menopause provider can help. At Evernow, we offer hormone therapy that can help you find relief safely and effectively, both for cramping and other bothersome symptoms of perimenopause.
Dysmenorrhea. (2020). https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4148-dysmenorrhea
Menopause 101: A primer for the perimenopausal. (n.d.). https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/menopause-101-a-primer-for-the-perimenopausal
Perimenopause. (n.d.). http://www.cemcor.ca/resources/life-phases/perimenopause
Perimenopause. (2021). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/perimenopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20354666
Perimenopause: Rocky road to menopause. (2020). https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/perimenopause-rocky-road-to-menopause
Vitamin E and fish oil, separately or in combination, on treatment of primary dysmenorrhea: a double-blind, randomized clinical trial. (2018.) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29542390/