Perimenopause – the years that approach menopause – often are the period where women experience the most intense and recurrent menopause symptoms. For many women, perimenopause onsets between the ages of 40 and 55 – though some women may experience perimenopause as early as their late 30s.

The First Signs of Peri Menopause

For most women, the first symptoms of perimenopause are irregular periods. Women entering perimenopause may notice that periods begin to vary in duration, flow level, and timing. Though many women’s natural cycles deviate somewhat, the irregular periods that occur during early perimenopause tend to vary by seven days or more. Late perimenopause can often be detected by two or more periods that are skipped entirely, or which occur with a lapse of 60 days or more in between them.

Peri Menopause and Fertility

Because ovulation – the release of eggs from the ovaries – becomes disrupted during perimenopause, many women find themselves with a decline in fertility. However, until menopause has been entered fully – signified by a year without a single period – women still remain hypothetically fertile. Despite this, many women struggle with trying to get pregnant during the perimenopause years.

Knowing the Physical Symptoms of Peri Menopause

There are 35 perimenopause symptoms in all, ranging from the psychological to purely physical signs of perimenopause. Some 70 percent of women may also begin to notice telltale symptoms that menopause is approaching as perimenopause begins, such as hot flashes and accompanying night sweats. Many women experience urinary and digestive problems – including urinary incontinence – due to loss in tissue tone, stemming from estrogen deficiencies.

Many women also notice their bodies changing shape during perimenopause. Women tend to gain weight more easily, encounter bloating and water weight gain, and may struggle to keep weight off their middle region. Perimenopause weight gain often occurs as a response to hormone deficiencies as the body begins the transition into menopause. Other signs of hormonal imbalance may also include other symptoms that affect a woman’s appearance, such as hair loss or thinning, dry skin, “flushing” or reddening of the skin, proneness to wrinkles, and even acne.

Psychological Symptoms of Peri Menopause

Menopause can also profoundly affect women’s psychological and emotional health. Symptoms such as anxiety and depression can occur as the result of a chemical imbalance, fueled by inadequate hormone production. As a result, many perimenopausal women can also find themselves at the mercy of chronic irritability and rapid mood swings, taking them from tears to laughter in a short window of time. Some women also experience loss of libido as perimenopause sets in – often a combination of physical symptoms such as vaginal infections or  vaginal dryness that can make sex uncomfortable, as well as a psychological decline in sex drive

Why Peri Menopause Symptoms Occur

When perimenopause begins to set in, hormonal request signals become more difficult for your body to transmit to and from the brain. As a result, hormones production begins to decline, causing imbalances in progesterone, estrogen and testosterone. Because hormones play a powerful role in the regulation of physical and psychological function, perimenopause symptoms arise. Until hormonal balance is restored, perimenopause symptoms can persist up to the point – and for some women, several years beyond the point – of menopause.