Some early signs of perimenopause include hot flashes, irregular menstrual cycles, mood swings and trouble sleeping, according to WebMD. Other signs include tenderness of the breast, lowered libido, worsening premenstrual syndrome, fatigue and an increased need to urinate. Women may also experience discomfort during sex, vaginal dryness and urinary leaking when sneezing or coughing.
Perimenopause, which is also referred to as menopause transition, often begins a few years before the onset of actual menopause, notes WebMD. During this time, the ovaries begin to produce less estrogen, which triggers the onset of perimenopause symptoms. In most women, perimenopause lasts for about 4 years, while in others it lasts for just a few months but can last up to a decade. A woman is officially through the perimenopause phase when she goes without a menstrual cycle for 12 months.
The majority of perimenopause symptoms occur during the last year or two of the condition, which coincides with the time that the drop in estrogen is more pronounced. Women can reduce the symptoms of perimenopause by exercising, getting more sleep, maintaining a healthy weight, and drinking less alcohol. Doctors sometimes prescribe birth control pills, patches and rings or progesterone injections to help control hot flashes caused by perimenopause.