Perimenopause: symptoms and causes

by Emily Gilbert |

There's a lot to get your head around when it comes to menopause. And if you've heard the phrases early menopause and peri-menopause, you might be confused about the difference between the two and if perimenopause is something you might be personally experiencing.

What is perimenopause?

“Perimenopause is the term used to describe the period around menopause and is usually used when referring to the transitional phase or initial stages of menopause." explains Dr Martin Kinsella, a hormone expert at BioID.

While some women find perimenopause begins in their 30s, it most often starts between the ages of 40 to 44. This process can last from anywhere between two to 10 years and the body will release fewer eggs regularly and produce less estrogen and other hormones. Women are likely to experience shorter, more irregular menstrual cycles and become less fertile.

"Early menopause is when a woman’s ovaries stop making certain hormones such as oestrogen before the age of 45, therefore resulting in their periods stopping. This is sometimes called premature ovarian failure or primary ovarian insufficiency."

The symptoms of perimenopause

While symptoms will naturally differ between women, the most common symptoms include:

 • Mood changes

 • Concentrating issues

 • Night sweats

 • Headaches

 • Hot flashes

 • Vaginal dryness

 • Difficulty sleeping

 • Sweating

 • Frequent urination

 • Changes in sexual desire

How is perimenopause diagnosed?

If you think you may be going through perimenopause, contact your GP. They will look at your symptoms, age, and medical history and do a physical exam to help provide a diagnosis. They may also carry out blood tests to check your hormone levels.

How is perimenopause treated?

Perimenopause itself does not require treatment but there are options to help with difficult symptoms. This includes hormone therapy which aims to level out hormone levels by using estrogen and progestins and antidepressants. Your doctor will talk through the options available to you personally.

They may also recommend general lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet, exercise, supplements and increased calcium.

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