Symptoms of Perimenopause & Menopause

Menopause technically does not occur until a woman has not had a menstrual period for a period of one year. However, symptoms of menopause can occur up to five years before menopause, during the period known as perimenopause. Talk to your health provider if symptoms of menopause are affecting your quality of life.

Menopause & Perimenopause symptoms may include:

Irregular periods

Changes in the menstrual cycle may be one of the first symptoms. Some women will skip an occasional period, others may have a period every two to three weeks. Others may not have a menstrual cycle for months.

Vaginal dryness

Decreasing estrogen levels can lead to decreased lubrication and inflammation of the vagina as a result of thinning and shrinking of tissues. This may be accompanied by itching or discomfort. Some women may experience pain during sex.

Hot flashes/night sweats

The term “hot flash” generally refers to a sudden feeling of heat in the upper body. It may start in the chest or face and spread. Skin on the face or neck may redden, and the woman may begin to sweat. Some women experience a racing heartbeat. .

Hot flashes often occur in the first year after a woman’s last period. If hot flashes occur at night, they are often referred to as “night sweats.”

Urinary problems

Some women may become more susceptible to urinary tract infections or may feel the need to urinate more frequently.

Weight gain

Some women may experience weight gain during perimenopause or menopause, and find that there is more fat buildup around the abdomen.

Trouble sleeping

Sleeping problems are a common symptom of menopause. Some women have trouble with night sweats; others have difficulty falling and staying asleep. Sleep disturbance may also be caused by anxiety or insomnia.

Mood swings

Many women experience mood swings during perimenopause and menopause. Some of this may be caused by poor sleep or a lack of sleep.

Trouble focusing or learning

Some women find that they have trouble focusing or learning, or feel as though they have a “mental fog.” One study found that women may not be able to learn as well as usual shortly before menopause when compared with other stages in their lives. Short-term memory problems are also a common symptom of menopause. Fortunately, these issues tend to resolve once a woman has gone for one full year without a menstrual period.

Hair loss

Thinning hair is a symptom of menopause in some women.