Jump to content

Perimenopause - Midlife and Beyond

middleage women image
Midlife and beyond: What happens during perimenopause?


Irregular periods? Trouble sleeping? Changes in your mood? While there could be many causes, at a certain age, these may be signs of perimenopause. Menopause is typically defined by the absence of your period for a full year. Perimenopause is simply the term for the time of transition leading up to it.


Get answers here to some of the most common questions about perimenopause. Then, talk to a board-certified OB/GYN about any changes you’re experiencing.



What is the normal age for perimenopause?


According to the Office on Women’s Health, perimenopause most often begins in your mid to late 40s. However, you may have gradual changes in your hormone levels even earlier. For many, these changes go unnoticed. But some women may notice the effects starting in their mid to late 30s.       



How long does perimenopause last?

Your body’s natural transition from reproductive years to menopause is often a slow process. Even if you have some symptoms, your final period may still be years away. On average, the National Institute on Aging says this transition period before menopause can last up to seven to 14 years.  



What are the symptoms?


During this time, a decline in your estrogen and progesterone levels causes changes in your body. You may stop ovulating consistently and have changes in your period. Your periods may be longer or shorter. Or they may be lighter or heavier.


You may also experience:

  • Changes in sleep or night sweats
  • Hot flashes
  • Mood swings
  • Painful sex due to vaginal dryness
  • Weight gain
  • Memory changes


If symptoms are affecting your daily life, talk with your board-certified OB/GYN to make a plan. There may be lifestyle changes—such as diet and exercise—or non-prescription options. You may also ask about hormone therapy and whether it’s right for you.



How do I stay healthy during perimenopause?


Perimenopause is a great time to focus on your health. Changes now will set you up for healthy habits post-menopause. For example, as a woman reaches menopause, she often loses bone density. This can lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis later on. Ask your doctor about getting enough calcium and other ways you can boost your bone health.


According to the American Heart Association, the natural decline in estrogen may also affect your heart health once you’ve reached menopause. So, it’s important to take steps now to maintain healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight.


While perimenopause may come with some challenges, your OB/GYN is there to help. Together, you can make perimenopause—and your approaching post-menopause years—as healthy as possible.


Read More Articles About Menopause