Cramping and other menstrual symptoms are normal occurrences during perimenopause due to the elevated estrogen levels, according to the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research, or CeMCOR. Both heavy and intermittent flows are common during perimenopause.
Menopause specifically refers to the year after the last period, according to CeMCOR. Perimenopause precedes menopause and lasts between four to 10 years. The term refers to the stage when menstrual flow slowly stops. Estrogen levels rise unpredictably during perimenopause, but progesterone levels do not rise accordingly. The imbalance causes much of the cramping, bloating and tenderness that characterizes perimenopause.
Hot flashes, lowered sex drive, fatigue, vaginal dryness and mood swings are common symptoms of perimenopause, according to WebMD. Periods often become irregular during perimenopause. However, periods that become very heavy, contain blood clots, last longer than usual or happen closer together are warning signs that changes in menstruation may be caused by something other than perimenopause. Spotting between periods and after sex is not a symptom of perimenopause and should be evaluated by a doctor.
Exercise, sleep, increased calcium and multivitamins can help reduce perimenopause symptoms, reports WebMD. Medication is available to help lowered sex drives, and women are still capable of becoming pregnant despite lowered fertility during perimenopause.