Perimenopause, or menopause transition, begins several years before menopause, when your ovaries gradually begin to produce less estrogen. It usually starts in the 40s, but can start in the 30s as well.

Perimenopause lasts up until menopause, the point when the ovaries stop releasing eggs, and estrogen production all by stops. This decline in estrogen accelerates in the last one to two years of perimenopause. In this period, many women experience menopausal symptoms.

The average length of perimenopause is four years, but for some women this stage may last only a few months or continue for 10 years. Perimenopause ends the first year after menopause when a woman has gone 12 months without having her period.

You will know you are transitioning into menopause when you begin experiencing some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Hot flashes.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Fatigue.
  • Mood swings.
  • Breast tenderness.
  • Worsening of premenstrual syndrome.
  • Irregular periods.
  • Decreased libido or sex drive.
  • Vaginal dryness; discomfort during sex.
  • Urine leakage when coughing or sneezing.
  • Urinary urgency or a pressing need to urinate more often.

Not all women get all of these symptoms.

Menopause symptoms:

  • Irregular or skipped periods.
  • Insomnia.
  • Fatigue.
  • Mood swings.
  • Irritability.
  • Depression.
  • Racing heart.
  • Headaches.
  • Joint and muscle aches and pains.
  • Changes in libido or sex drive.
  • Vaginal dryness.
  • Bladder control problems.

Not all women get all of these symptoms.

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