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Perimenopause

The Signs and Symptoms of Perimenopause

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Updated June 04, 2014

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The signs and symptoms of perimenopause can occur 10 to 15 years before actual menopause occurs, which is the final cessation of your menstrual cycle. Perimenopause actually is the time you have the notable symptoms of menopause (such as hot flashes, and when a woman might say "I'm menopausal."). Once that has ended, you are considered postmenopausal. Most clinicians will say a woman is postmenopausal once she hasn't had a period for a year.

The age when the signs of perimenopause occur varies among women. Most women notice perimenopausal signs in the 45-55 age range, although it varies, and some women never experience any symptoms. The average age for the final menstrual period is 51.

Women who have had hysterectomies with one or both ovaries removed usually experience immediate surgical menopause. Some hyterectomized women whose ovaries were left intact also experience perimenopause.

The Symptoms of Perimenopause

  • Hot flashes, night sweats, coldness
  • Irregular periods that can be heavy, light, shorter or longer cycles
  • Difficulty sleeping either getting to sleep or staying asleep
  • Mood changes, anxiety, depression, irritability
  • Heart palpitations (if you experience any heart disturbances, always consult a physician)
  • Dry skin and/or hair loss
  • Loss of or decreased sexual desire
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Incontinence -- the inability to hold your urine

There are many other symptoms that women may experience during the perimenopause years. Sometimes the symptoms of perimenopause can be mimicked by other conditions -- commonly thyroid disorders, so it's important anytime you experience symptoms that are different for you that you consult your physician.

Source:

Midlife Transitions. ACOG Education Booklet AB013. http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/ab013.cfm Accessed 08/26/09.

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