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What is the perimenopause? A quick guide

Menopause essentials: short articles to help you get to the heart of the issue

Think you might be perimenopausal and looking for a simple explanation of perimenopause? This article sets out what you need to know.

What is the perimenopause?

The menopause is when your ovaries stop producing eggs and levels of hormones oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone fall. The clinical definition of menopause is when you haven’t had a period for 12 consecutive months.

The perimenopause is the time directly before menopause when hormone levels start to decline and you are still having periods, however you may notice a change in frequency and flow.

RELATED: What is the menopause?

When does the perimenopause happen?

The average age of menopause is 51, so as a general rule, the perimenopause tends to begin in your early to mid-40s. However, it can happen later or earlier for reasons including genetics or due to surgery or treatment.

What sort of symptoms can I expect?

Fluctuating hormone levels during perimenopause can trigger a range of symptoms.

For starters, your menstrual cycle will usually be affected ad changing periods are often an early sign of perimenopause. Fluctuating oestrogen levels mean your ovaries may not release an egg as regularly as they used to. You may ovulate one month, but not the next, and the quality of eggs also declines as you get older.

In addition to changing periods, if you have experienced premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) in the past, you may notice these symptoms become more severe.

Other symptoms you may experience in perimenopause include:

  • Mood-related symptoms
  • Hot flushes and night sweats
  • Fatigue and insomnia
  • Poor mental focus and concentration
  • Headaches, including more frequent migraines
  • Joint and muscle pains
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Urinary and bladder problems, including urinary tract infections (UTIs).

It’s important to remember that everyone’s perimenopause is different: you may have no symptoms at all, or you may experience a range of symptoms. The balance app has a handy symptom tracker where you can track the type, frequency and severity of menopause-related symptoms, including your periods.

How can I manage my perimenopause?

The balance website has a host of resources on helping to manage your perimenopause and menopause, looking at treatments, lifestyle changes and mental health resources. Head to our menopause library to find out more.

What is the perimenopause? A quick guide

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