The early signs of menopause also known as perimenopause and can occur as long as ten years before the actual onset of full blown menopause.
Basically, women in their late 30s up through the 40s can start the perimenopause cycle which is basically the reduction of the production of estrogen.
Once the ovaries stop releasing eggs, then a women is in full blown menopause and will experience a full onset of symptoms, those early signs of menopause you may experience for years leading up to the actual event.
What to Expect Symptom-Wise
Perhaps one of the most significant early signs of menopause is the hot flashes which can cause you to sweat at night or even during the day when everyone else is comfortable or even cold. These hot flashes may or may not be accompanied by red blotchy skin, flushed skin or even a prickly kind of heat.
If you normally experience pre-menstrual symptoms like cramps and mood swings, chances are that these symptoms will worsen as time gets closer to menopause. Other early signs of menopause include irregular periods, tenderness of the breasts, sleeping problems and fatigue. In terms of sex, your libido may decrease and there may be some pain during sex due to vaginal dryness.
Urinary problems may also be early signs of menopause but should always be checked out by a doctor to re-affirm the cause. Frequent need to urinate, development of a urinary tract infection and even leakage of urine when sneezing, coughing or exercising can also be attributed to perimenopause.
Irregular periods, of course, are early signs of menopause as well. However, because perimenopause can last years, whenever you start exhibiting signs of irregularity, you should be examined by a doctor to rule out other health issues like tumors, fibroids, cancer and more. There are many things that can cause irregular periods and should not be the “end all to end all” signals of menopause.
Diagnosis of Menopause
The early signs of menopause can help point the way to perimenopause, which mentioned early, can last for years. A doctor can perform a blood test to check hormone levels but these are not always conclusive. Therefore, you may have to take blood tests at various intervals in order to check for true hormonal fluctuations that can be early signs of menopause.
The actual event itself will likely come with little fanfare as you have been experiencing the early signs of menopause for years. You are in true menopause when you have not had a period for at least one year. Of course, those symptoms will likely continue for a while longer past the perimenopausal stage. The real kick in the pants comes with the fact that you can still get pregnant while still exhibiting the early signs of menopause. As long as you are still having periods, that means you are still ovulating and thereby there is always a small chance of pregnancy.