“I think when you get into perimenopause, you notice a lot of changes,” she said in the video. “I can feel the hormonal shifts happening: the sweating, the moods. You’re just like all of a sudden furious for no reason.”
Paltrow also shared what it was like when her own mother, actress Blythe Danner, went through menopause. “It was such a big deal,” she said, “and I think there was grief around it for her and all of these emotions.”
She adds, “I don’t think we have in our society a great example of an aspirational menopausal woman.”
The literal translation of perimenopause is “around menopause,” according to the Mayo Clinic, and it describes the time when a woman’s body makes the transition to menopause, i.e., the end of her reproductive years. “Perimenopause begins several years before menopause (the full cessation of the menstrual cycle and when the ovaries stop releasing eggs) and is defined as the time when the ovaries start to slow down and produce less estrogen,” women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, MD, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
As for when women typically experience it, “it can vary,” Wider says. It usually happens in a woman’s 40s, but it can also happen as early as her mid-30s. It can also be a drawn-out experience. “The average duration is four years but can last less than a year in some women and more than 10 years in others,” Wider says. “It officially ends when a woman has not had her period for 12 consecutive months. That is defined as menopause.”
There’s a “large variation” with perimenopause symptoms, Wider says, including “hot flashes, mood swings, lack of libido, vaginal dryness, pain during sex, breast tenderness, sleeping issues, stress incontinence, and fatigue.”
Women can take steps to alleviate the symptoms or discomfort that comes with them, but it ultimately depends on what the symptoms are. “Women have used low-dose hormone replacement, birth control, lubricants, antidepressants, and sleeping aids,” Wider says.
It’s worth pointing out that menopause typically starts between ages 45 and 55, according to the National Institute on Aging, so it’s tough to say that the symptoms that Paltrow is experiencing are due to perimenopause or actual menopause, which has similar symptoms.
If you’re having the symptoms of perimenopause or menopause, talk to your doctor, who may be able to recommend next steps to make the process more comfortable for you.
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