Perimenopause is the period of years before menstruation ceases (the average age is 51.5). The time period varies, but it can be from 4-10 years. Perimenopausal periods can be extremely varied.
Most people have symptoms such as irregular periods (we’ll talk more about that), hot flashes, insomnia, bloating, weight gain, mood changes, etc. due to changing hormone levels.
When you don’t menstruate for one year, you’re considered to be menopausal. The average age this happens is around 51, so people go through perimenopause most often in their 40’s.
What about perimenopause periods? Is there a standard thing that happens to most people, or is the wild west of irregularity?
What about Perimenopausal Periods?
Perimenopause Periods: just about the only thing that’s “normal” is that you can except your periods to be irregular.
A common myth of menopause is that you have normal periods which suddenly stop. The vast majority of people go through a transition time.
During your regular menstrual cycle, estrogen and progesterone increase and decrease according to a pretty regular pattern. Generally, ovulation occurs in the middle of the cycle, and then menstruation occurs around 14 days later.
However, during perimenopause, hormones are a bit out of whack and don’t follow this regular pattern. Here are some of the results:
- Irregular bleeding
- Long or heavy period one month
- Short and light period the next
- Increasing, or decreasing number of days between periods (period every 3 weeks for example)
- Skipped periods, but they can return months later
- Changing menstrual symptoms (more, or less cramps, PMS, cramps all month, etc.)
- Changes in discharge
The general pattern is that periods will become lighter, with more time in between cycles. Eventually, they’ll just stop and you’ll enter into menopause.
Learn more about the Menopause Stages here.
Periods during perimenopause: let’s sum this up! Just about anything can happen!
Periods During Perimenopause: Why So Irregular?
Most people have perimenopause periods that are pretty erratic. You might be curious as to why this happens?
During this time of your life, the ovaries function pretty erratically. They produce less progesterone and estrogen, and ovulation doesn’t happen regularly every month.
However, the main reason for irregular periods is hormonal fluctuations. The main culprit is estrogen, which rises and falls regularly throughout our menstrual cycle, until we hit perimenopause! That’s when it starts to decline, and it’s responsible for most of the negative things you may experience in the years before menopause.
What about Hormone Replacement Therapy?
One option to talk with your doctor about in perimenopause is Hormone Replacement Therapy. Basically, this treatment will give you a low dose of estrogen to combat the falling levels of it that your body is now making naturally.
Another option is combination therapy which includes both estrogen and progesterone. There are specific situations in which you’d want to take estrogen alone, or in combination with progesterone, so be sure to check in with your doctor.
There are also pros and cons to HRT, as well as a number of people who shouldn’t consider it.
Perimenopausal Menstrual Cycle: What is Normal, What Isn’t?
The perimenopause cycle: What’s the deal? Let’s find out!
Although your periods probably aren’t following a normal cycle during perimenopause, it’s not exactly a free for all. There are some things that could indicate a more serious problem and you should talk with your doctor about them. They include:
- Very heavy bleeding
- Bleeding that is longer than normal
- Bleeding that happens more than every 3 weeks
- Spotting after sex, or between periods
Some of the more serious problems can include Polyps (noncancerous growths), Endometrial Atrophy (Endometrium becomes very thin), or Endometrial Hyperplasia (lining of the uterus becomes thicker).
There are various ways to diagnose and treat these conditions. Your doctor will have the most up to date information about the options available in your area.
When is Perimenopause Going to End?
One of the surest signs that you’re in late, as opposed to early or middle menopause is when your periods start to become further and further apart.
When you go 12 months without having a period, you’ve officially entered into menopause. Learn more here:
However, if you’ve gone six months without having a period, and suddenly have one, you have to reset the 12 months. For example, you couldn’t go six more months without a period and then officially be in menopause. You’d have to wait another full 12 months.
Use a Tracking App for Perimenopause Periods
Consider using a menstrual cycle tracking app to have a record of your periods. This will be very helpful for your doctor to diagnose your condition. Perimenopausal periods are most often pretty irregular, so using something like this will really help you, and your doctor.
Also Consider a Menstrual Cup
You could also consider using a menstrual cup, which is an easy way to keep track of how much you’re bleeding.
What Period Protection Should I Use During Perimenopause?
It can be challenging to choose the best period protection options when you’re spotting, or have a very irregular period.
You may find that tampons and disposable pads just aren’t working that well for you anymore. If this is the case, then you’ll want to check this out: Perimenopausal Period Protection Choices.
We generally recommend reusable products like cloth menstrual pads or pantyliners, or a menstrual cup.
My Period is Lighter This Month
Sounds awesome, right? Doesn’t everyone want lighter periods? It’s not as awesome as you might think because there are some possibly serious reasons behind it.
Or, it could be a natural part of perimenopause. The only way you’ll know is to check with your doctor.
More details here:
Is your light period accompanied by brown blood. This can definitely happen in the years leading up to menopause. Find out more here:
Is is Possible to Get Pregnant During Perimenopause?
As long as you still have a period, it’s possible to become pregnant. That’s good news if you’re trying to conceive!
However, if you don’t want to get pregnant, but are regular having unprotected sex during perimenopause, you might be in for a surprise. Your chance of getting pregnant is indeed much lower than someone in their 20’s for example, but it is possible.
That’s why doctors recommend using birth control for at least a few months after your last period if you don’t want to become pregnant.
Learn more here: All about Perimenopause and Pregnancy.
Are there any Treatment Options for Irregular Periods During Before Menopause?
Perimenopause irregular periods: is there a way to deal with them without going to the doctor?
Okay, so you’ve having very irregular periods in the years leading up to menopause. If you’re also having other symptoms like severe hot flashes or night sweats, your doctor may recommend starting hormone replacement therapy.
Natural Treatment for Irregular Periods During Perimenopause?
Some of them have some pretty convincing evidence that they do indeed help to regulate the menstrual cycle.
What Age Does Menopause Occur?
Okay, if you’re starting to have very irregular periods during perimenopause, it’s only natural that you’ll want to know when they’ll stop and you’ll hit menopause.
The average age for a women in North America is the very early 50’s. Despite the age of first menstruation getting earlier, this has remained unchanged for decades.
When you stop menstruating depends on a number of factors, but by far the most important one is genetics. Ask your Mom when she reached menopause and you’ll probably be within a year or two of that.
However, there are some people who go through menopause even earlier in their 30’s or 40’s. You can find out more here: All about Early Menopause.
What about Andropause?
It just seems so unfair that all these things happen to us, but what about men? Do they escape their 40’s and 50’s scot-free?
Not so much! Male menopause is a well documented thing, with various changes to their bodies. You can learn more about it here:
Perimenopausal Periods: Have your Say!
Are you in Perimenopause, or have gone through it? What are your periods like?
Leave a comment below and let us know.