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?
Table of Contents
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 is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause is a period of 4-10 years before menstruation stops (menopause). The average age of menopause is about 50, so most people go through perimenopause in their 40’s, although it can happen earlier, or later.
It’s characterized by a time of fluctuating hormones. This can result in a range of symptoms, including:
- Irregular periods
- Weight gain
- Spotting between periods
- Hot flashes, night sweats and insomnia
- Increased cramps and Pre-Menstrual Syndrome
- Heavier periods than normal
Periods During Perimenopause
As far as periods go, the normal pattern is that they become less frequent, and lighter as time goes on. This makes sense if they’ll eventually stop.
But, fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels can cause just about anything to happen! Periods can get lighter, or heavier. You can experience spotting. The length of your cycle can get shorter, or longer.
It can be a bit challenging to deal with them, especially the spotting, and not knowing when they’re going to happen.
The good news is that there are better options than regular old tampons, or sanitary napkins!
Keep on reading for details about menstrual cups, period panties, and reusable cloth pads and pantyliners.
Perimenopausal Period Protection Options
Do you want to know the best way to deal with heavy and/or irregular periods during menopause? We have a few of the top affordable, eco-friendly options that you might want to consider.
Option #1: Menstrual Cup
The first option to consider during Perimenopause is a menstrual cup like the Lena Cup. In case you haven’t heard of them, they’re a reusable bell-shaped product that is usually made from medical grade silicone. They can be used in place of tampons.
Why Use a Menstrual Cup During Perimenopause?
Why consider using a menstrual cup before menopause? There are a few different reasons:
- You can easily track your flow with them, which can be useful information for your doctor to have.
- It’s possible to use a menstrual cup before you begin your period, unlike with tampons (you shouldn’t do this because of the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome).
- Some people experience heavier periods during perimenopause. If this is the case for you, then a menstrual cup makes an obvious choice. They have a capacity 2-4x more than a jumbo tampon.
- If you have lighter periods or spotting, a menstrual cup will also work well. Just be sure to take it out and clean it every 12 hours to reduce your risk of TSS.
Which Menstrual Cup to Consider?
The main problem with menstrual cups is that it can be difficult to decide which one to get! There are more than 100 brands, each with different sizes and styles.
That’s why we recommend taking our menstrual cup quiz. It’ll take just a couple minutes or your time. At the end, you’ll get some ideas about which cup will work best for you. Check it out here:
Check out the Yuuki Menstrual Cup
Perimenopausal Period Protection Option #2: Period Panties
The next period protection option to consider for Perimenopause are period panties. They are one of the best solutions for light spotting, or when you’re not sure if you’re going to get your period.
2 Styles of Menstrual Underwear
Some menstrual underwear has just a leakproof layer. This can help to prevent embarrassing leaks until you can get to the bathroom to deal with your period.
Other period panties have an absorbent layer in them that is equivalent to a heavy pad. It’s generally recommended to use these as back-up to a tampon or menstrual cup if your period is heavy. But, if you have a very light period, or spotting, they could work well on their own.
More Comfortable than Panty Liners
We find them a far better option than always using disposable pantyliners. This is because disposables can sometimes be pretty irritating to the skin, and cause things like yeast infectionsif worn all the time.
Learn more About Period Panties
Which Period Panties do you Recommend?
There are a lot of options for period panties, ranging from around $8 per pair to upwards of $30. In general, we recommend sticking with some of the cheaper options because the expensive ones are not that much better to warrant that higher price.
You can check out our picks here: The Best Period Panties for your Money. Or, take a look at our comparison chart below:
Perimenopausal Period Protection Option #3: Reusable Cloth Pads
Next up on our list of the best options for Perimenopause are reusable cloth pads. They’re similar to disposable pads except that they’re made from cloth, bamboo, charcoal and other natural materials.
Great for the Environment, as well as your Health
Washable pads make an excellent choice for the environment because they don’t contain plastic like disposable sanitary napkins do. Plus, you can use them for at least a few years.
Your bank account balance will thank us as well! The cheaper reusable menstrual pads cost $5-10 per pad, but they can last for years.
The best thing about them? They’re great for people with sensitive skin because they won’t cause irritation. And, they contain none of the toxic chemicals in them that many leading pad brands do.
What about Cloth Pads for Perimenopause?
In particular, we recommend them for the time before menopause because they can be worn for far longer periods of time and not cause skin irritation or rashes. They also don’t expose your body to toxins.
If your period is irregular, and you’re not sure if you’re going to get it, use one of these cloth pads for a bit of extra security.
Check out Party in My Pants Cloth Menstrual Pads
Which Reusable Pads to Consider?
You can see our picks here: The Best Reusable Menstrual Pads. Or, have a look at this comparison chart below:
Perimenopausal Period Protection Option #4: Reusable Pantyliners
Reusable pantyliners make a nice options for spotting before menopause.
Best Cloth Pantyliners
|Dutchess Cloth Pantyliners
|Simfamily Panty Liners
|Hesta Organic Pantyliner
The final option you may want to consider during Perimenopause are reusable cloth pantyliners. They’re an eco-friendly, affordable, and healthier alternative to disposables.
What makes them so great for Perimenopausal periods? It’s that they are perfect for when you’re spotting and need only the lightest of protection. Or, if you have your period but it’s extremely light.
You can check out some of our favourite picks here: The Best Reusable Pantyliners.
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:
Are you looking for some natural perimenopause supplements to treat the symptoms you may be experiencing this time of transition? Then keep on reading for all the details you need to know.
Instead of hormone replacement therapy, you may wish to try some of these supplements to help deal with things like hot flashes and night sweats, painful periods or weight gain. Most of them will help to regulate your reproductive hormones.
Of course, check in with your doctor before trying any of these things.
This is one of the most readily available supplements you can take and can be found in your local drugstore.
There is no hard evidence that ginger helps to prevent night sweats, it is known to help improve the quality of sleep. So, if you’re having a hard time getting enough sleep during perimenopause, consider adding gingseng to your diet.
#2: Black Cohosh
This is an interesting option, and there is at least one study that shows it being effective to treat menopausal symptoms.
It’s an herb native to North America that’s ground into a supplement.
Soy contains plant-based estrogens that may help to minimize things like hot flashes and vaginal dryness that’s caused by reduced amounts of estrogen. You can eat tofu, drink soy milk, or eat edamame.
#4: Vitamin D
Taking vitamin D won’t reduce hot flashes, but it will make your bones stronger. This is important because with reduced estrogen in menopause comes a greater risk of Osteoporosis.
It may also help to boost your mood, and stabilize mood swings.
#5: Flaxseed or Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseed is a good source of lignans, which can help to balance hormone levels. Sprinkle some onto oatmeal, bake with it, or use some in a smoothie.
#6: DoTERRA Clary Calm
Some people report some excellent success with this Essential Oil blend from Clary Calm. Originally designed to help with menstrual cramps, it’s also thought to have a very calming effect on the body.
#7: St. John’s Wort
Another supplement you may want to try if you suffer from menopause symptoms is St. John’s Wort. The combination of this, along with Black Cohosh showed results that were better than a placebo at relieving some of the common menopausal complaints.
#8: Maca Root
This herb has been used for thousands of years to help deal with stress by reducing cortisol levels. It’s thought to help reduce hot flashes, and decrease weight gain. You may also notice an increase in energy levels and libido.
An interesting, new option for treating menopausal symptoms is CBD oil. It comes in many forms, and may, or may not be legal depending on where you live.
Studies have shown that it can reduce pain and inflammation, as well as decrease anxiety. Might be exactly what you need when you’re heading through perimenopause, right?
#10: Food as Medicine
An interesting thing to think about is food as a kind of medicine. Your dietary choices can really have a big impact on overall health. So, during this time of transition, it makes sense to eat as healthy as possible (we recommend plant based foods), so that your body is running in peak condition.
Take care with the foods you eat during this time of transition, and your body will take care of you. Ensure that you get an adequate intake of things like Vitamins and dietary fiber. You will likely feel better, and more in control of what’s happening to you.
Supplements for Menopause
Hormone Replacement Therapy vs. Supplements
When you dig into the research and studies about perimenopause supplements, you see a lot of the same thing.
In theory, ABC might be effective, but studies are mixed. Or, there is no conclusive evidence that XYZ helps to reduce mood swings, headaches, depression or hot flashes during perimenopause. They may, or may not be as effective as common lifestyle choices like eating healthy, reducing stress and getting enough sleep.
Does this mean that you shouldn’t use them? No. Try them out and see if they work for you. People have been using these things for thousands of years with some success to naturally regulate their hormones.
However, check in with your doctor for medical treatments as well. They’ll have the most up to date information about the options available to you. If you’re nervous about taking them, talk to your doctor about this fear.
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.
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.