Perimenopause is the transitional phase of female reproductive life that precedes menopause. A decrease in hormone production in the ovaries and irregular periods signify the final stages of fertility. On average, perimenopause lasts about four years, until the full onset of menopause. Keep reading for frequently asked questions about perimenopause.
What is the Difference Between Perimenopause and Menopause?
Understanding the difference between perimenopause and menopause can be confusing. Women going through both of these stages of reproductive life may experience symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness or mood swings.
The term “menopause” is often used interchangeably with perimenopause. However, a woman only technically reaches the menopausal stage of life after she has not had a menstrual cycle for twelve months. The major difference between perimenopause and menopause is the production of eggs. During perimenopause, a woman experiences irregular periods, but her ovaries may still produce eggs. During menopause, a woman does not get her monthly period and the ovaries stop producing eggs. This signals the next stage of life.
What are Common Symptoms of Perimenopause?
The most common symptom of perimenopause is irregular periods, which affect approximately 90% of women. Signs of irregular periods may include missed periods, changes in blood flow, blood clots and cramping. Additional symptoms linked with perimenopause, include:
Loss of libido
Can I get Pregnant during Perimenopause?
Because a woman is still menstruating during the perimenopause phase, she may become pregnant. Even if periods are light or infrequent, a woman can experience ovulation during her menstrual cycle. However, women trying to get pregnant during perimenopause should know that anovulation may occur. Anovulation is when a woman gets her monthly period but her ovaries do not release an egg for fertilization by a male sperm. Women over 40 should also note the chances of getting pregnant are about 5%. Click here for more information about fertility during perimenopause.
When Should I see a Doctor about Perimenopause Life Changes?
You should schedule a visit to your gynecologist when you begin experiencing the symptoms of perimenopause. Women who are experiencing perimenopause and still want to get pregnant should talk to their doctor about fertility treatments, such as alternative medicine or in vitro fertilization.
Click here to find more information on perimenopause symptoms.