Prior to menopause is a period that is known as Perimenopause. This is a natural transition phase that could last anywhere from 4-8 years.
Perimenopause starts with changes in the amount of time between one period and the next. It ends one year after a woman has had her final period.
This time of transition could begin as early as your mid-30s, but most women begin to see menstrual irregularities in their 40s. Every woman is different, and perimenopause will begin at various ages.
Because your estrogen level will rise and fall in an uneven manner throughout perimenopause, you will notice that your menstrual cycle will become shorter or longer, and you might have cycles during which you don’t ovulate and skip your period.
You might even have symptoms that are typically associated with menopause, such as vaginal dryness, trouble sleeping, and hot flashes.
Ovulation will become unpredictable, and your menstrual flow might change as well, becoming lighter or heavier.
Other symptoms include changes in mood or sexual function, bone loss, an increase in LDL cholesterol, vulnerability to urinary and vaginal infections, urinary incontinence, and loss of vaginal lubrication and elasticity.
When 60 days or more pass between your periods, you have entered the latter stage of perimenopause.
Perimenopause is completely normal and something that all women go through. However, if your symptoms become bothersome, your doctor can help by prescribing medications to ease those symptoms.
Treatment options include vaginal estrogen, hormone therapy, antidepressants, and Gabapentin. As you progress through perimenopause, your symptoms may change, so treatments may change as a result.