Perimenopause

What is perimenopause?

Perimenopause is the transitional
time around menopause. Menopause is when a woman’s periods stop. It’s marked by changes
in the menstrual cycle, along with other physical and emotional symptoms. This time can
last 2 to 10 years. During this time, your body:

  • Releases eggs less regularly
  • Makes less estrogen and other
    hormones
  • Becomes less fertile
  • Has shorter and more irregular menstrual cycles

What causes perimenopause?

Perimenopause is a natural process caused when your ovaries gradually stop working. Ovulation may become erratic and then stop. The menstrual cycle lengthens and flow may become irregular before your final period.

Symptoms are caused by the changing levels of hormones in the body. When estrogen is higher, you may have symptoms like you might have with PMS. When estrogen is low, you may have hot flashes or night sweats. These hormone changes may be mixed with normal cycles.

What are the symptoms of perimenopause?

No two women will experience perimenopause in the same way. These are the most common symptoms:

  • Mood changes
  • Changes in sexual desire
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Headaches
  • Night sweats
  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Trouble with sleep
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Heavy sweating
  • Having to pee often
  • PMS-like symptoms

The symptoms of perimenopause may
look like other health conditions. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a
diagnosis.

How is perimenopause diagnosed?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you are having symptoms of
perimenopause. Your symptoms, health history, age, and a physical exam may help your
healthcare provider with the diagnosis. You may also have blood tests to measure your
hormone levels.