A woman's body goes through many hormonal changes from puberty through menopause. Life stages, as well as pregnancy, can bring about certain physical and emotional changes. Perimenopause is the period leading up to a woman's final menstrual cycle. Vaginal spotting and other symptoms commonly occur during perimenopause.
Menopause commonly occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. This normal cessation of menstrual cycles marks the end of a woman's reproductive years. Perimenopause, the phase that leads up to menopause, can vary between women, sometimes lasting as long as 10 years. During this time, your fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone can cause a multitude of symptoms.
Changes in menstrual cycles are common during perimenopause. You may notice your periods become longer or shorter, making it difficult to predict your next menstrual cycle. Some periods may have a heavier flow of blood while others resemble light spotting. Your menstrual cycles can range between short, light periods to heavy, long periods. You may even notice spotting between periods and skip your periods some months.
In addition to irregular bleeding, perimenopause may cause additional symptoms. During this life stage, you may experience hot flashes that cause your skin to flush and feel excessively warm. Blotchy skin, sweating and shivering may accompany hot flashes. You may also have trouble sleeping, lose interest in sex, have trouble focusing and gain fat.
While spotting and other symptoms are a natural part of perimenopause, some types of vaginal bleeding require your attention. Notify your doctor if you experience vaginal spotting after sex or between normal menstrual cycles. Let your doctor know if your bleeding or spotting occurs more often than every three weeks or if you have very heavy periods of bleeding. These symptoms can indicate the presence of polyps, ovarian cysts, infections or certain types of cancer.
While some women seem to sail through hormonal changes, including menopause and perimenopause, others require treatment to reduce their symptoms. Talk to your doctor about symptoms that interfere with your daily life, such as urinary incontinence, depression, memory problems, insomnia, vaginal dryness and frequent hot flashes. Proper nutrition, regular exercise and medications may help ease some of the symptoms associated with hormonal changes during perimenopause.