Perimenopause is the transition to menopause which starts a few years before menopause begins. This is the time where your ovaries gradually slow down its estrogen production. The perimenopause phase usually starts when a woman reaches her 40s. In some cases, there are also women who start their perimenopause phase in there 30s or even earlier. This perimenopause phase starts and lasts until menopause, a point where the female body no longer releases eggs for the function of reproduction.
In the last few years during perimenopause, the estrogen level drops dramatically causing women to experience many symptoms. Perimenopause can last an average of 4 years. However, in some women, the perimenopause phase may be as short as a few months or can last as long as 10 years. After 12 years of no longer menstruating, the perimenopause phase ends and the woman is deemed to have menopause.
This phase may start earlier if there is a family history of early menopause, if you have had a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) or oophorectomy (surgical removal of the ovaries), have gone through treatments for cancer, or are a smoker.
Symptom #1: Change in Menstrual Cycle
In perimenopause, as the estrogen level declines, your menstrual cycle may change leading to irregular vaginal bleeding. In some women, their menstruation becomes lighter while some women experience much heavier bleeding. The cycle duration also starts to vary in length. For example, if your usual cycle lasts 28 days, during the perimenopause phase, your cycle may become shorter or longer causing you to have more frequent or less frequent menstruation before finally coming to a cessation (menopause).
It is common for women who are in their perimenopause phase to experience menstruation even after months of not having one. If you are experiencing irregular vaginal bleeding and is of the perimenopause age, you should still seek medical attention to ensure that your irregular menstrual bleeding is not due to life-threatening conditions such as cancer.