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What are Pre-Menopause Symptoms?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 17, 2024
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Pre-menopause, also called perimenopause, is the time period before menopause. During this time, which often lasts for two to eight years, a woman’s body changes in preparation for moving on to menopause, which is marked by an end to ovulation and menstruation. There are many pre-menopause symptoms a woman may notice as her body prepares for menopause. For example, her periods may become irregular, she may have hot flashes, and she may feel more tired yet have trouble sleeping. A woman may also deal with decreased fertility, decreased sex drive, less vaginal lubrication, and even the leakage of urine when she laughs, coughs, or sneezes.

One of the most obvious pre-menopause symptoms is irregular menstruation. A woman who has reached this stage may notice that her periods have become longer or shorter than usual. She may even skip periods at times. Her menstrual flow may change as well, as her periods become heavier or lighter than usual. Many women experience decreased fertility during this time, but most women are advised to use birth control for a whole year after menstruation stops in order to avoid unplanned pregnancy.

In many cases, a woman’s desire for sex may change during pre-menopause. She may feel less desire for intercourse or have more trouble becoming aroused. Sex may even become painful because of decreased vaginal lubrication. The vaginal walls may gradually become less elastic as well, which may only make matters worse.

Pre-menopause symptoms may also include those related to a woman’s urinary tract. For example, a woman may be more likely to develop stress incontinence during this time, which means she may leak urine when she sneezes, coughs, or even laughs. In fact, she may be more prone to infections of the urinary tract or vagina because of falling estrogen levels.

Many people associate hot flashes with menopause, but they are also among the most common pre-menopause symptoms as well. Hot flashes are marked by a flushed, hot feeling followed by sweating that occurs suddenly and does not appear to be related to the weather. For example, a woman may appear to be hot and flushed despite the fact that it is cold outside or while she is in an air conditioned room. Sometimes these hot flashed become enough of a problem that they interfere with a woman’s ability to sleep well. Insomnia and difficulty falling a sleep may occur during pre-menopause, even if a woman does not have hot flashes, however.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By sweetPeas — On Aug 01, 2011

@Clairdelune - I, also, had problems during pre-menopause. I was tired, just dragging around some days. Maybe the reason I was so tired was because I had a lot of trouble sleeping. And I had numerous bladder infections. My periods were very irregular. This "change of life" really takes its toll.

As most women do, I had hot flashes, especially at night. I would wake up in the middle of the night, hot and soaking wet. Not fun! I'd have to get up and change my nightgown and try to get back to sleep. My doctor offered me estrogen, but I decided not to take it. Just like all woman, you do get through it!

By Clairdelune — On Aug 01, 2011

Did anyone else have an awful time during pre-menopause? I sure did. It seemed to start with weird menstrual periods. They were heavy and became irregular. I felt tired and grouchy a lot of the time. I kept getting bladder infections even though I had never had them before.

Then the hot flashes - they were a nightmare. Even during the winter months, I would wake up in the middle of the night, with my night gown soaking wet and I felt so hot. The lower levels of estrogen are what's mostly to blame for all the misery of pre-menopause and menopause. I did take some supplements of estrogen, and that helped some. Fortunately, the condition eventually comes to an end.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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