Perimenopause is the time of life leading up to the menopausal transition. The definition of menopause is 12 months without a menstrual cycle. This can happen anytime between the ages of 45 and 55. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a common sign of perimenopause is a change in your menstrual cycle. Cycles may become longer than usual for you, or they may become shorter. You may begin to skip periods. The amount of flow may become lighter or heavier. Although changes in menstrual bleeding are normal as you approach menopause, you still should report them to your health care provider. Abnormal bleeding may be a sign of a problem. Talk to your health care provider if you have any of the following:
Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of perimenopause. A hot flash is a sudden feeling of heat that spreads over the face and body. The skin may redden like a blush. You also may break out in a sweat. A hot flash may last from a few seconds to several minutes or longer. Hot flashes are not harmful, but they sometimes are embarrassing and may interfere with daily life.
Some women have hot flashes a few times a month. Others have them several times a day. Hot flashes that happen at night (night sweats) may wake you up and cause you to feel tired and sluggish during the day.
Vaginal and Urinary Tract Changes
As estrogen levels decrease, changes take place in the vagina. Over time, the vaginal lining gets thinner, dryer, and less elastic. Vaginal dryness may cause pain during sexual intercourse. Vaginal infections also may occur more often.
The urinary tract also changes with age. The urethra can become dry, inflamed, or irritated. Some women may need to urinate more often. Women may have an increased risk of urinary tract infections after menopause.