Now accepting Telemedicine appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.

What's the Difference Between Perimenopause and Menopause?

What's the Difference Between Perimenopause and Menopause?

Menopause marks the time when a woman can no longer get pregnant. It doesn’t just happen one day when you reach a certain age, however. The transition to menopause is a long-term process unique to each woman. 

You may think you’re going through menopause when you’re actually in perimenopause. Perimenopause encompasses the years leading up to menopause, and it’s characterized by well-known symptoms like hot flashes, moodiness, and weight gain. 

Menopause is not diagnosed until you’ve gone 12 months without any period at all. Once you’ve passed through menopause, you’re in postmenopause.

Does this sound confusing? At Capital Women’s Care, we offer education and support for women going through any of these end-of-reproduction stages. Take a moment to learn a little more about the process of menopause, how you can find relief from uncomfortable symptoms, and what it means for your health.

Menopause

You’ve experienced menopause when you haven’t had your monthly period for 12 straight months. Leading up to menopause, you may have spotting, infrequent periods, or erratic bleeding — all indications that you’re not quite to menopause yet.

Though menopause is usually a gradual process, it can occur suddenly if you have your ovaries surgically removed. Natural menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, with the average age being 51

Perimenopause

Many women say they’re “in menopause” when they’re actually in perimenopause. Perimenopause typically lasts about four years, but it can range from only a few months for some women to 10 years or longer for others. Perimenopause usually starts in your 40s, but it can start slightly earlier for some women.

During perimenopause, you experience the symptoms you associate with menopause, such as:

These symptoms are due to the fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone that occur during your fertility transition. 

Your periods will likely be irregular — they may be heavier than usual, or you may skip a month or two. But remember, until you’ve gone a full 12 months without a cycle and reached menopause, you’re still in perimenopause and can get pregnant.

Not every woman in perimenopause experiences unpleasant symptoms. Some women have all of them, some have just a few, and others experience none at all. Severity of symptoms also varies. 

If you find that your symptoms of perimenopause are interfering with your quality of life, make an appointment at our office so we can help you manage them with lifestyle changes, hormone replacement therapy, and medications to improve your mood and lessen hot flashes.

Postmenopause

Once you’ve gone 12 straight months without a period and reach menopause, provided there’s no other condition causing this pause, you’re entering postmenopause. Your hormones will tend to stop fluctuating erratically, so you may feel fewer symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats. 

But the decreased estrogen levels that accompany postmenopause put you at risk for a number of health concerns, including osteoporosis and coronary artery disease. We here at Capital Women’s Care monitor your bone and heart health when you’re in the postmenopausal stage so we can prevent major complications. 

If you have questions about your fertility, periods, or menopause, reach out to the experts at Capital Women’s Care. Contact us by calling or using this website to request an appointment.

You Might Also Enjoy...

It's a New Year. Time to Schedule Your Well-woman Exam

Your well-woman visit is an important part of your preventive care. The arrival of the new year is also a great time to schedule this annual appointment. Here’s why your well-woman exam is so critical for your pelvic organ and reproductive health.

Signs of an Ectopic Pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy is not viable and can pose a life-threatening situation for the woman. Here are signs that the fertilized egg has attached somewhere other than the uterus.

Common Causes of Infertility

If you’re struggling to conceive, you’re not alone. Many couples face infertility problems, but then they go on to have a healthy baby. Here are some of the most common causes of infertility and how you can overcome them.

5 Major Signs You May Have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common condition that affects women’s fertility and quality of life. The following symptoms are possible signs that you have PCOS. The condition is manageable, so reach out if you notice these signs.

What Do I Need to Know about Minimally Invasive Surgery?

Many gynecological surgeries once required days in the hospital and weeks of recovery. Modern minimally invasive surgery makes these procedures much less of a burden on your physical and emotional well-being. Here’s what you need to know.