What is Menopause?

And what is Perimenopause?

Defining Perimenopause

Menopause is defined as 12 months without a menstrual cycle. Perimenopause is the transition that occurs leading up to menopause, commonly lasting about 4-8 years. It can be difficult for some women to know if they’re in perimenopause.

Common symptoms of perimenopause include:

  • Vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes, night sweats)
  • Mood changes
  • Heightened PMS
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular cycles

As a woman enters perimenopause her cycle length often begins to change. A 7-day change in regular cycle length (either shorter or longer) for 2 or more cycles may confirm perimenopause. Ovulation also becomes very inconsistent and won’t occur every cycle.

There are often changes in the volume of blood lost during periods as well, either heavier or lighter. This can also vary from cycle to cycle.

While it can be a confusing and frustrating time, tracking your cycles can help you and your doctor make (some) sense of what’s going on in your body.

Tracking your cycles during perimenopause

  1. Track cycle length. Note day 1 of each cycle. This is the first day of full bleeding.
  2. Try to track ovulation. This occurs about 2 weeks before your period and is often noted by thin, stretchy “eggwhite” cervical fluid. If you track basal body temperature, an increase in temperature will occur within 24 hours after ovulation.
  3. Track any PMS symptoms like breast tenderness, moodiness, bloating, or migraines.

Then bring this information to your appointment so that you can review this with your doctor and together come up with the best plan for testing and treatment. There are many effective options to support you through this transition, so you don’t have to suffer alone.


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