The transitional years between having a regular menstrual cycle and menopause is called perimenopause. Each woman experiences perimenopause differently. Generally, it starts in a woman’s mid-40’s, but could come earlier (early 30’s - early or premature menopause) or later and could last anywhere from 4 to 8 years. In perimenopause, estrogen and progesterone productions gradually decline, and in the last 1 to 2 years this drop drastically speeds up. Perimenopause takes place a few years in advance of actual menopause, which is when a woman’s ovarian functions gradually cease and there is an absence of menstrual periods for 12 - months.
What you may experience
During perimenopause, a woman may experience the following  :
- Hot flashes - is feeling flushed, feeling hot, sweating, and having red blotches on your skin, usually the face and neck.
- Breast tenderness - due to the fluctuation in estrogen and progesterone production during perimenopause, breast tenderness may arise.
- Worse premenstrual syndrome - during PMS, a woman experiences a combination of bloating, cramps, body aches, and headaches. These symptoms may get worse during perimenopause due to hormonal fluctuations.
- Lower sex drive - a woman’s sex drive declines as estrogen production declines.
- Fatigue - fatigue can be caused by many things like changes in diet, sleep, and lifestyle. Sometimes fatigue can be brought about by medical causes - one of which is anemia, which is iron deficiency, and is common during perimenopause due to irregular periods (too heavy periods)
- Irregular periods - the average blood flow in a menstrual period is about two tablespoons. However, women who are in perimenopause may experience lighter (just a spot) or heavier (sometimes up to 2 cups) periods. Very heavy menstrual flow can put women at risk of iron deficiency.
- Vaginal dryness; discomfort during sex - Estrogen helps maintain vaginal lubrication, keeping the lining of the vagina healthy, thick, and elastic. A drop in estrogen levels would affect the vagina’s natural lubrication.
- Urine leakage (when coughing or sneezing) and urinary urgency (an urgent need to urinate more frequently) - again, hormonal changes can affect you vaginal tissues, vaginal lining, and the strength of your pelvic floor.
- Mood swings - caused by hormonal fluctuations.
- Trouble sleeping - can be caused by hot flashes, night sweats, or an irritable/overactive bladder.
How to provide some relief
To ease these symptoms, you have to watch three things: your diet, your activity level, and your sleeping patterns. Make sure you eat a healthy diet and stay at a healthy weight. Incorporate light exercise into your daily activities and try to get at least 8 hours of sleep daily.