Perimenopause is the 10- to 15-year period before menopause, usually defined by a lack of periods for 12 months. Understanding perimenopause symptoms or searching for a list of symptoms of perimenopause can help you determine whether or not you might be experiencing perimenopause.
The root cause of perimenopause is hormonal imbalances. These imbalances can start when you are in your mid- to late-30s, but most women do not experience severe enough hormonal fluctuations until their forties to produce symptoms, which are often reported as:
- Hot flashes/night sweats
- Loss of sexual desire
- Vaginal dryness/itching
- Sleep disturbances
- Eating and weight issues
- Mood swings/anxiety
- Skin changes
Most women think that during perimenopause, their estrogen level goes into a free-fall. Actually, in early perimenopause progesterone declines, writes Christiane Northrup, M.D., in The Wisdom of Menopause. The result is too much estrogen in the body relative to progesterone and the onset of symptoms associated with "estrogen dominance," such as decreased sex drive, irregular periods, bloating breast swelling and mood swings, notes Northrup.
Whatever phase of perimenopause you are in, if you have symptoms, hormone balancing — with medication or natural remedies — is usually recommended for relief. If you have no symptoms, you can still be perimenopausal.
Common signs that you are gliding ever closer to menopause are a significant change in menstrual flow or duration; a missed period for at least three consecutive months; a seven-day change in the length of your normal menstrual cycle. For example, your period used to cycle every 25 days and has started coming every 35 days.