Perimenopause starts many years before the menopause will kick in but it’s always good to know what lies ahead. This stage can last for anywhere between 4-10 years but some women only experience it for a few months. Your ovaries will begin to produce less and less oestrogen but don’t panic, it may be a long time before you have your final period.
The perimenopause usually kicks off in your 40’s but some women may get signs in their 30’s – things like your period being late. You could still get pregnant at this stage so make sure to continue using contraception for a good year after your last period.
Here are some signs to watch out for:
Irregular periods, fatigue, rushing to the loo more frequently, painful breasts, trouble sleeping, hot flashes, weight gain, urine leakage when coughing or sneezing, decreased sex drive, discomfort during sex and mood swings
A blood test can help determine if you are perimenopausal as your hormone levels will change. The Pill can help with hot flashes as can progesterone injections. Perimenopausal symptoms can also be improved by exercising, getting adequate sleep so waking up and going to sleep at regular times, drinking less alcohol, quitting smoking and making sure you are getting enough calcium. Getting to a healthy weight will have huge benefits too.
Menopause typically happens between the ages of 40 and 58 so the average age is about 51. The menopause kicks in when you haven’t had a period for 12 consecutive months.