While most women don’t enter the full swing of menopause until their late 40s or 50s, others may experience the very first signs of changing hormone balances as early as their mid 30s. Known as “perimenopause,” the first signs of menopause occur when the ovaries slow their production of estrogen and continue until they stop releasing eggs entirely.

Keep an eye out for these first signs of menopause.

Irregular Menstruation

One of the hallmark signs of the beginning of menopause is a change in the frequency or duration of your periods. Although some women will experience steady cycles until they suddenly stop, most will skip months, have shorter or longer periods, or experience spotting while not on their periods.

Problems Sleeping

Perimenopausal women often have issues maintaining a consistent sleep schedule. Some find they are plagued by insomnia; others can fall asleep, but may wake up frequently and might have trouble falling back to sleep. Still others may experience night sweats that wake them up.

Hot Flashes

In addition to night sweats, most women (85%, in fact) are affected by sudden instances of feeling hot, flushed, and sweaty. Hot flashes are caused by a hormone surge that makes your body think it’s too hot, which results in an increased skin temperature and large amounts of perspiration to try to vent off some of that heat. They can happen at any time, and are frequently a serious source of distraction.

Mood Changes

Increased levels of anxiety and depression are common complaints of women just entering their menopausal years. If you suddenly feel incredibly unhappy or worried for no reason, or tend to respond more emotionally than you normally would to events that don’t warrant such a response, consider talking to your doctor about how to even out your mood.

Skin Issues

Decreased estrogen production can lead to skin that is less elastic, rougher, and drier due to a dampening of the production of collagen in your body. In addition to causing wrinkles, these menopause-related skin changes may also result in discomfort during sex due to changes to vaginal and urinary tissues.

Although these symptoms may simply be an annoyance for some women, others find that their quality of life is significantly decreased during the perimenopausal years.

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