Are you experiencing some new symptoms but are still having regular periods? You are most likely in the stage before menopause. According to Harvard Health, perimenopause “begins with irregular menstrual cycles — courtesy of declining ovarian function — and ends a year after the last menstrual period.” Menopause doesn’t actually begin until an entire year has passed without a menstrual cycle. The stage before that is called perimenopause which is also known as the menopausal transition. During this stage, women can experience symptoms usually linked with menopause such as hot flashes. This is all caused by hormonal alterations, specifically the variation in estrogen levels as they rise and fall during this time.

What Age Does Perimenopause Develop?

Perimenopause usually affects Americans in their mid-40s, but it can develop earlier. Some women may notice changes as early as their mid-30s. The following risk factors may cause early menopause and perimenopause:

-Smoking
-A family history of early menopause
-Undergoing cancer treatments such as chemotherapy
-Having a hysterectomy

If you have one or more of these risk factors, you should pay attention to the symptoms of perimenopause to see if it happens to you early.

Symptoms

Some symptoms that indicate perimenopause might be those that one would expect during menopause. Those going through perimenopause might have an irregular period. However, menopause doesn’t actually start until it has been an entire year without a menstrual cycle. During perimenopause, you can expect lighter or heavier periods as your body adjusts to the change. Hot flashes may also start to occur which can cause loss of sleep. The Mayo Clinic states perimenopause may also cause “mood swings, irritability or increased risk of depression may happen during perimenopause. The cause of these symptoms may be sleep disruption associated with hot flashes.” It can also cause changes in sexual function such as lack of desire and vaginal dryness.

Mood swings and irritability can put pressure on familial relationships and the lack of sleep may affect work performance. At Complete Care Centers, we have many specialists who can help you find solutions to the symptoms and provide more information about hormones and your body. If any of these symptoms begin affecting your personal or professional life, you should consider seeing a primary care provider.