Perimenopause is a gradual process of transition in a female body where her reproductive activity gradually slows down to finally come to a complete halt. Perimenopause is followed by menopause. A female body stays in perimenopause phase from 4 to 10 years. In this phase, though her reproductive capability slows down, there are some chances of her still getting pregnant.
There is no specific test to diagnose whether a woman has entered perimenopause. But there are a set of symptoms which helps in diagnosing perimenopause. The doctor normally checks thyroid level, age, menstrual cycle and other factors which might be giving a signal of your body entering perimenopause. Following are the symptoms which help to diagnose perimenopause:
Irregular Menstrual Cycle
During perimenopause, a woman experiences irregular periods. The periods will not follow a regular 28 or a regular 30 days cycle. It will vary widely. Sometimes it will be as early as 20 days and sometimes it will be as late as 40-60 days.
The periods flow will also vary largely. Sometimes it will be scanty and sometimes it will be heavy lasting 6-8 days. In few cases, women have complained of spotting when not in periods.
Being one of the most common symptoms of perimenopause, hot flashes are experienced by 70-80 percent women. Some feel hot flashes around their periods date. Hot flashes are characterized by sudden rise in body temperature, feeling extremely hot and uneasiness and sweating. Face turns red. When hot flashes occur during night with heavy seating, it is called ‘night sweats’.
One of the side effects of hot flashes is the abrupt arousal from sleep. In some women sleep pattern is disturbed even in absence of hot flashes. Usually hot flashes occur during night and hence disturb sleep pattern.
Less Control Over Urinary Bladder
With the decrease in the estrogen level, the urinary bladder also loses its muscular strength. A woman might feel the urge to pass urine all of a sudden. A woman might not be able to control urine as she sneezes or coughs and there would be some urine leaks.
Dryness Of Vagina
As the level of hormone estrogen decreases during perimenopause, the walls of vagina lose its lubrication. The walls of vagina become dry and might itch as well. Women might face pain during intercourse due to lack of lubrication. This is one of the early signs of perimenopause.
Few women have also reported of a joint pain during perimenopause. Joint pain also prevails during menopause and post menopause. Joint pain is more prevalent in women who are obese and lead a sedentary life style.
During perimenopause, women have complained of a breast pain accompanied by tenderness in the breast. Breasts appear saggy. Breast pain might not be perpetual but the pain might show a cyclical pattern. This is due to the fluctuation of hormones inside the female body.
If a woman is showing signs of perimenopause, she should consult the doctor. As perimenopause is a natural process of ageing in women, in most of the cases no medical attention is required. However if the symptoms are interfering with the general well being of a person and is affecting her life style, she should seek medical advice.