By Womaness Editors 1-Minute Read
Welcome to ASK AN EXPERT, a series where we pose your real questions to our menopause experts for the answers you need. Have a question? Post it on The After Party, our private Facebook Group.
“OKay, what the heck is perimenopause?”
From Dr. Somi Javaid, board-certified OB/GYN physician/surgeon & founder & Chief Medical Officer of HerMD:
“The average age of menopause in the United States is 51. Perimenopause can begin up to a decade before then. And the biggest distinction is perimenopause can have every annoying symptom of menopause, but with perimenopause there's still some degree of bleeding.
Now, it may not be normal like a once-monthly menses, because your periods can start to change. In fact, they can actually get closer together before they start to get further apart. But if you are still bleeding and having menopausal symptoms, that is perimenopause.”
1. What is perimenopause?
Perimenopause is the transitional phase that leads up to menopause. It can begin up to a decade before a woman reaches menopause. During this period, a woman can experience many of the symptoms associated with menopause but will still have some degree of menstrual bleeding.
2. How is perimenopause different from menopause?
The main distinction between perimenopause and menopause is the presence of menstrual bleeding. During perimenopause, a woman may still experience bleeding, though it may not be as regular as before. Menopause, on the other hand, is defined by the absence of menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months.
3. At what age does perimenopause typically start?
According to research, the average age of menopause in the United States is 51. Therefore, perimenopause can begin up to a decade before then, which means some women might start experiencing perimenopausal symptoms as early as their early 40s or even late 30s.
4. What are the common symptoms of perimenopause?
Perimenopause can present with various symptoms similar to those of menopause. These may include:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Mood swings
- Sleep disturbances
- Vaginal dryness
- Changes in menstrual cycle
- Decreased fertility
5. How do menstrual periods change during perimenopause?
During perimenopause, menstrual cycles can become irregular. Periods might become closer together before they start to get further apart. The flow can vary, and there might be skipped periods.
6. How long does perimenopause last?
The duration of perimenopause varies for each woman. It can last for a few years or extend up to a decade. The final stage of perimenopause leads directly into menopause, which is marked by the absence of menstrual periods for a full year.
7. How can I manage perimenopause symptoms?
There are various treatments and lifestyle changes that can help manage perimenopausal symptoms:
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- Over-the-counter supplements for symptoms like hot flashes or vaginal dryness
- Regular exercise
- A balanced diet
- Stress-reducing techniques like meditation or deep-breathing exercises
- Consulting with a healthcare professional for personalized advice
8. Do I need to see a doctor during perimenopause?
It's beneficial to have regular check-ups with a healthcare professional during perimenopause. They can provide guidance on symptom management, monitor your overall health, and recommend necessary screenings.
9. Can I still get pregnant during perimenopause?
Yes, even though fertility decreases during perimenopause, it's still possible to become pregnant. If you do not wish to become pregnant, it's essential to continue using birth control until you've reached menopause (no periods for 12 consecutive months).
Note: Always consult with a healthcare professional about any concerns or questions related to perimenopause. Every woman's experience is unique, and personalized guidance is vital.