Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause and can last from a few months to years.
What is perimenopause?
Perimenopause is the phase in a woman’s life before menopause or the time of her final menstruation. Medically, it starts when the first menopausal symptoms are noticed and ends when the final menstrual period (or menopause) has taken place. Perimenopause can last from a few months to a few years.
The term perimenopause is not commonly used. The common terms or phrases used to refer to this time of life are 'premenopause', ‘going through menopause’, ‘the change of life’ or simply, ‘the change’.
Perimenopause is usually experienced after the age of 45. At this time, normal levels of hormones driving the reproductive or menstrual cycle start to decline and menopausal symptoms are triggered.
The most common menopausal symptoms experienced during perimenopause are hot flashes and night sweats. In addition, a woman’s periods may become irregular or erratic and sometimes, heavier or more painful than normal.
The menopausal symptoms experienced during perimenopause may continue even after a woman has stopped having her periods—known as the post-menopausal phase.
What are the symptoms of perimenopause?
Menopausal symptoms experienced during perimenopause are caused by a decline in the female hormones as she approaches menopause.
A wide range of symptoms may be experienced, but the most common are hot flashes and night sweats. The latter may lead to sleep problems as excessive sweating can wake the woman up. If severe, her partner’s sleep may also be affected.
A lack of sleep can have an impact on quality of life during the day, leading to irritability, low mood and anxiety.
Perimenopause can also give rise to muscle and joint pain. These are usually confined to the upper part of the body, with neck pain and shoulder pain.
Follow the link for a more detailed discussion on menopause symptoms.
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