What is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause describes the transition period in the lead-up to menopause. During this time we may experience a variety of symptoms and notice our periods are becoming less regular. In this post, we’re going to look at the signs and symptoms of perimenopause, common treatments, and how tracking changes in your cycle can help you learn more about your body. Read on to find out more...
What’s the difference between perimenopause and menopause?
While these terms are often used interchangeably, the difference between perimenopause and menopause comes down to whether or not you still get your period. Menopause can only technically be confirmed after one whole year without a menstrual bleed. You might be offered a blood test to confirm menopause, this may depend on your symptoms and other health factors your doctor may ask about.
Those going through perimenopause may experience all the symptoms associated with menopause and may have irregular periods, but until these stop entirely for a prolonged period of time, menopause can’t be confirmed.
At what age does perimenopause happen?
This varies from person to person. However, most will experience menopause between the ages of 40 and 58, with 51 being the most common age to have reached menopause. Perimenopause can happen for around 4 to 8 years prior to this. During this time you may experience certain physical symptoms as well as noticing your periods becoming more irregular.
Perimenopause signs and symptoms
What goes on in your body is a very individual thing, and how we experience perimenopause is no different. You may or may not experience some or all of the symptoms associated with perimenopause, and their severity and duration may vary. However, some common symptoms of perimenopause include:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Reduced sex drive
- Mood changes
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
For individual advice and treatment for perimenopause and its symptoms, we recommend speaking to your healthcare professional. Treatments range from hormone replacement therapy to talking treatments and it’s important you find the right option for you. For many, lifestyle changes can be enough to manage the symptoms of perimenopause.
If you’re experiencing pain during sex you can also try using lubricants to reduce vaginal dryness. Make sure you choose gentle and ph neutral options to avoid extra irritation - when it comes to cleaning your vagina, we recommend leaving it au naturel. The vagina is self-cleaning and using soap and lotions down there increases the risk of infection and may lead to more irritation.
Can you get pregnant during perimenopause?
In short, the answer is yes. If you are still getting periods, you are still ovulating, meaning you can still conceive. However, as ovulation becomes less frequent and more unpredictable, it may be harder to get pregnant in the years leading up to menopause. Tracking ovulation and looking for patterns in your cycle may help you plan pregnancy while experiencing perimenopause. Sadly, the risk of miscarriage also increases as we get older.
While the chances of conception are lower in your forties, and lower still in your fifties, starting a family might not be impossible. If you are experiencing perimenopausal symptoms and are trying to get pregnant, it’s best to talk to your doctor for advice.
Track the changes in your cycle and get to know your body better
Thanks for reading up on perimenopause. Here at Natural Cycles we’re all about increasing awareness when it comes to female reproductive health. Natural Cycles is a fertility partner that can be used to both prevent or plan pregnancy depending on your goal.
You can also use the app’s tracking features to log symptoms such as pain, changes to sex drive, mood, and more. Understanding the pattern of your unique cycle is a great way to spot any changes happening in your body. Why not find out if Natural Cycles could work for you today?