What are the signs of perimenopause?

Perimenopause loosely translates as ‘around menopause’, which is a vague yet apt description for this undefined period of time that marks the transition to menopause.

There is no way of determining how long this stage will go on for as every woman is different, but it typically lasts around three to four years (although in some cases it can go on for a decade). The average age of menopause is 51, so it’s generally perceived that perimenopause age is a few years before, when a woman will start to experience some physical and mental changes.


Common perimenopause symptoms

The most obvious symptom is irregular periods. Many women also experience hot flushes, heavy bleeding, low mood and disturbed sleep. For some this can occur as early as in their thirties, while others might not notice anything significant at all in the lead-up to their periods stopping altogether.

If you are still ovulating, however irregularly, then it means you can still potentially conceive. If you’re not wanting any more children, it’s best to continue with your preferred form of contraception until your periods have stopped for at least a year. And even then, it’s best to check with your GP or gynaecologist before ceasing to take birth control.

As women’s perimenopausal symptoms vary, you may want to look at the areas of your life that are causing the most negative impact.

If you, like many women, find that you’re bleeding heavily and unexpectedly (a common perimenopausal symptom due to the yo-yoing of hormones in your body) you may want to address this by discussing options with your gynaecologist. Some women find that a hormonal coil such as the Mirena can dramatically improve their situation.


Managing perimenopause symptoms to suit you

The menopausal stage will follow perimenopause, and this is a significant stage of life where, with the right guidance and advice, has the opportunity to be creative, healthy and happy. It’s wise to give yourself plenty of time to understand your perimenopause symptoms and explore ways of managing them to suit you best. As your body gears up for menopause, you may see this as a time to get familiar with the life changes that help you to feel good, as many of the symptoms you will experience during perimenopause may be similar.

To find out more about perimenopause and our women’s health team, please call 020 7244 4200 or make an appointment online.