What is Perimenopause?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Feb 18, 2012

What is PerimenopausePerimenopause or menopause transition is the stage of your reproductive life before actual menopause sets in. It usually starts about 8 to 10 years before menopause. This stage (perimenopause) is an interval in which your body gradually makes a natural shift from more-or-less regular cycles of ovulation and menstruation to irregular cycles and then permanent infertility, or menopause. During this period the oestrogen secretion from the ovaries gradually begins to decline.


Duration of Perimenopause


The age, at which perimenopause starts can vary. In most women this phase of the reproductive life usually starts in 40s, but can start in the 30s as well. The average length of perimenopause in most women is about six years. However, this stage of the reproductive life in some women may last only a few months. The perimenopausal phase lasts up until menopause starts. The periods become more irregular and infrequent over time and once you don’t have periods (menstruation) for 12 consecutive months it is considered as menopause, and the perimenopause period is over. When you enter menopause your ovaries stop releasing eggs. 

Signs and Symptoms of Perimenopause


The signs which indicate that you are probably in the perimenopausal phase are changes in period (menstrual flow and cycle) such as the periods may become irregular, longer, shorter, heavier or lighter, than your usual cycle and sometimes less than 28 days apart. You may start experiencing some of the menopause-like symptoms such as hot flushes, sleep problems, mood changes and vaginal dryness. Other symptoms of perimenopause include:


  • Breast tenderness.
  • Worsening of premenstrual syndrome.
  • Decrease in sex drive (libido).
  • Fatigue and tiredness.
  • Discomfort during sex due to vaginal dryness.
  • Urine leakage on straining (on coughing or sneezing).
  • Other urinary symptoms such as urinary urgency (a pressing need to urinate more frequently).


Menopausal symptoms become more intense in the last one to two years of perimenopause as the decline in oestrogen level accelerates. Most women tend to ignore these symptoms. However, if you have any bothersome symptom, consult your doctor. Effective treatments are available to relieve these symptoms. Besides treatment, your doctor can also confirm if the symptoms such as abnormalities in menstrual bleeding are due to perimenopause or some other medical problem (such as uterine fibroid and cancer). If needed, your doctor may do tests to rule out serious medical problems.


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