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The Very Peri Summit Resource Centre: The Science of Perimenopause with Dr Sonia Davison.

Dr Sonia Davison MBBS FRACP PhD, is an Endocrinologist with a special interest in Women's Health. 

She is a Clinical Fellow at Jean Hailes for Women’s Health and has an adjunct appointment at the Women’s Health Research Program, Monash University, Victoria, Australia. 

Sonia is in private practice at the Melbourne Endocrine Clinic, Malvern, and at Jean Hailes for Women's Health. Sonia is Past President of the Australasian Menopause Society.

In this session, she explains exactly what perimenopause is, and how you can work out if you're in it. 

Here's what we learned from her chat:

What is perimenopause?

In a nutshell, perimenopause is hormonal fluctuations in the body that take place as it runs out of eggs.

"It's like the reverse of puberty," Dr Sonia says of peri.

"So we are running out of eggs and as we run out of eggs, the poor pituitary, which is just situated up here, it's desperately trying to do what we did throughout reproductive life, which is make eggs, which make the estrogen, progesterone as well, but that process sadly unravels... So periods will change."

When that happens, periods can change in volume or frequency. Symptoms will often start to occur as women approach their forties and fifties with the whole process lasting up to 11 years.

"Menopause is the last period," Dr Sonia says, which on average happens to women between 45 and 55 years-old.

And it will affect all women differently. 

20% of women can have severe symptoms, and 20% can have no symptoms at all. 

The majority of women fall somewhere in between, with symptoms fluctuating over time.

"One month might be normal, the next one [you] might be thinking, 'oh God, I'm menopausal.' It will fluctuate up and down until that last egg comes out, the last period happens and then that's menopause," Dr Sonia says.

So, you think you might be going through peri?

As tempting as it might be to get a hormone test, Dr Sonia explains that it will not be able to provide you a sure diagnosis, as these tests only measure hormones at the time of testing. 

In perimenopause, these will fluctuate day-to-day.

So, Dr Sonia Davison recommends finding a doctor with expertise in the area.

"You might love your GP. You might have been with them for years, but they might not get it. Just say to them, I like you, I trust you, you are my trusted doctor, but I would like to see someone who has some expertise in this area."

You can find a doctor through the Australasian Menopause Society here.

"You've gotta find a solution. You can't be sleep deprived. You can't be feeling like you're going to kill your kids or your partner, and you can't struggle."

Resources: 

Information discussed in The Very Peri Summit is for education purposes only and is not intended to provide professional medical advice. Readers should seek their own medical advice, specific to their circumstances, from their treating doctor or health care professional.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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