Perimenopause is the time in a woman's life when her estrogen and progesterone levels begin to drop. This normal experience lasts anywhere between four and ten years. It often begins when a woman is in her 40s, but can start earlier, too.
Change is the first sign
One of the first symptoms a woman may notice as she enters perimenopause is changes to her usual menstrual cycle. Bleeding may become lighter or more substantial, the duration of her period may last longer or become shorter and can come in varying intervals.
Many women experience heavy bleeding during perimenopause due to lower levels of progesterone, which causes the uterine lining to become thicker before shedding. Other health conditions affecting the uterus, like fibroids, could also be responsible for an increase in flow, so a doctor should evaluate any abnormality you may experience.
Perimenopause and pregnancy
Even though hormone levels are decreasing, a woman can still become pregnant during the perimenopause years. It's important to use birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections during this time.
All women experience the onset of symptoms differently. However, it’s usually during the last two years of perimenopause (when the decline in estrogen speeds up) that most women begin to experience menopause symptoms.