Perimenopausal women often face significant challenges when it comes to understanding and managing changes in their menstrual cycles as they approach menopause. A recent study led by researchers from UCL highlights the need for improved education and support for women experiencing these changes.
During the perimenopausal phase, which typically occurs between the ages of 40 and 55, women may encounter unpredictable and heavy periods, along with heightened premenstrual symptoms. These symptoms can manifest as mood swings, breast tenderness, and headaches. The research involved interviews with 31 perimenopausal women from the UK, shedding light on their experiences.
The study revealed that almost all of the participants reported experiencing irregular periods as they entered the perimenopausal stage. These changes included alterations in cycle length, period duration, and blood flow. Even women who previously had regular periods faced unpredictability during this phase of life.
Women attributed these constant changes in their menstrual cycles to difficulties in planning and committing to activities outside their homes. The fear of being unable to cope emotionally or physically due to unexpected periods created anxiety. Furthermore, many women expressed concerns about the increased heaviness of their periods during the perimenopause. Such circumstances could result in embarrassing situations or lead to lower iron levels and subsequent exhaustion.
The study also shed light on the intensity and duration of premenstrual symptoms during this phase. Women reported new feelings of anxiety, uncontrollable mood swings, and longer durations of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). These experiences can have a significant impact on both work and mental well-being.
The research emphasized the urgent need for comprehensive support for perimenopausal women, addressing the challenges they face in managing their periods. Recommendations from the participants included workplace support, such as the flexibility to work from home to accommodate unpredictable periods, greater understanding from employers and colleagues, mandatory managerial training, and improved education at schools.
In response to these findings, UCL has recently announced plans for the UK’s first menopause education and support program. Developed in collaboration with Well-being of Women, Sophia Forum, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and the British Menopause Society, this program aims to provide education and support to women across the country, empowering them with a deeper understanding of their bodies during menopause.
By offering women access to accurate information and support, this program seeks to alleviate the negative impact of menstrual changes during the perimenopausal period. Inclusive menstrual education during school years and specialized women’s health training for healthcare professionals will also play a vital role in supporting women’s well-being.
With increased knowledge and accessible support, women can navigate their perimenopausal journey with confidence and make informed decisions regarding their health.