Perimenopause is the span of years before menopause when a woman's hormone levels and menstrual periods become irregular. Perimenopause has been described as "going through menopause" or "being in menopause."
After 1 year of having no periods, a woman has reached menopause. This is usually around age 50. In the years before menopause, changing hormone levels, especially estrogen and progesterone, cause perimenopausal symptoms. These typically start in a woman's mid-40s, and they continue for a year or two after menopause.
Some women have mild perimenopausal symptoms. Others have severe symptoms that affect their sleep and daily lives. Symptoms can include:
Unpredictable changes in menstrual pattern, including heavier or lighter blood flows and shorter or longer cycles.
Night sweats and sleep problems (insomnia).
Vaginal itching or dryness, causing discomfort during sexual activity.
Decreased sex drive (libido).
Symptoms related to mood and thinking may also happen around the time of menopause. These include:
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Carla J. Herman MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine & Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine