What is perimenopause?
Perimenopause, or the menopausal transition, is the time leading up to a woman's last period. Periods can stop and then start again, so you are in perimenopause until a year has passed since you've had a period. During perimenopause a woman will have changes in her levels of estrogen (ES-truh-jin) and progesterone (proh-JES-tuh-RONE), two female hormones made in the ovaries. These changes may lead to symptoms like hot flashes. Some symptoms can last for months or years after a woman's period stops There is no way to tell in advance how long it will take you to go through the menopausal transition. It could take between two and eight years. Sometimes it's hard to tell if you are in the menopausal transition. Symptoms, a physical exam, and your medical history may provide clues to you and your doctor. Your doctor also could test the amount of hormones in your blood. But because hormones change during your menstrual cycle, these tests alone can't tell for sure that you have gone through menopause or are getting close to it. Unless there is a medical reason to test, doctors usually don't recommend it
Menopause affects every woman differently. Some women have no symptoms, but some women have changes in several areas of their lives. It's not always possible to tell if these changes are related to aging, menopause, or both. Some changes that might start in the years around menopause include: Irregular periods. Your periods can come more often or less, last more days or fewer, and be lighter or heavier. Do not assume that missing a couple of periods means you are beginning the menopausal transition. Check with your doctor to see if you are pregnant or if there is another medical cause for your missed periods. Also, if you have not had a period for a year and start “spotting,” see your doctor. Spotting could be caused by cancer or another health condition.