Resources / What is perimenopause and who does it affect?

What is perimenopause and who does it affect?

Perimenopause refers to the period of transition from pre-menopausal to menopausal as a result of the decline in estrogen production in the ovaries. Menopause itself is defined as when a woman’s periods have stopped for 12 months.

What is perimenopause and who does it affect?

During the perimenopause, many women start to experience menopausal symptoms. Some women continue to have regular periods during this time. 

The changes that happen during the perimenopause can have a significant impact on a woman’s short-term health and overall well-being. Therefore, it is important that women understand the transition to menopause.

Early recognition of the signs and symptoms of perimenopause will provide a headstart for women and enable them make health, treatment and lifestyle choices to improve their quality of life and long-term health.

When does perimenopause start?

Usually, perimenopause starts between the ages of 45 and 55. However, it can start much earlier. Menopause between the ages of 40 and 45 is referred to as “early menopause” while before the age of 40 it’s referred to as “premature menopause” or premature ovarian failure or premature ovarian insufficiency.

The declines in estrogen levels that occur during the perimenopause result in a wide variety of menopausal symptoms.

What are the symptoms of perimenopause?

What are the symptoms of perimenopause?

Every woman’s experience of perimenopause is different, with variations in the nature, variety and severity of symptoms. While menstrual irregularity is a very common early indicator of perimenopause,, some women experience no changes to their periods at all.

During perimenopause, hormone levels fluctuate (increase and decrease) significantly. This results in wide variations in symptoms from hot flushes to premenstrual syndrome (PMS)-type symptoms such as headaches, cramps and bloating. Periods may also be heavier in perimenopause due to alterations in the balance of the ovarian hormones.

Though symptoms can greatly vary,  some symptoms are commonly experienced by most women.

Usually, they will be a mixture of physical and mental symptoms:

  • Vasomotor symptoms (the medical term for hot flushes and sweats). When these occur at night, they may interrupt sleep and lead to tiredness and irritability.
  • Palpitations, where the heart pounds or races, often accompanied by feelings of anxiety.
  • New onset or worsening of headaches and migraines.
  • Mood swings, including depression and anxiety.
  • Brain fog, the common term for changes in cognitive function including problems with concentration or memory.

Other symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint and muscle aches and pains
  • Weight gain
  • Increased abdominal fat deposition
  • Hair loss or thinning
  • Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex
  • Changes in libido (sex drive)
  • Urinary symptoms including waking up at night to urinate or needing pass urine more frequently or urgently
How long does perimenopause last?

How long does perimenopause last?

The duration of perimenopause can vary greatly but  typically lasts between four and seven  years. During this time, there is a gradual decline in the amount of estrogen produced by the ovaries, with the process speeding up in the last one to two years of perimenopause. In geneal, the loweeSymptoms generally worsen the lower  estrogen levels decline.

It’s important to note that this is not the case for every woman. For some women, it only lasts a few months while for others, it could continue for a decade.


Menopause Support

Support for perimenopause

Is there a perimenopause test?

There is no one test for perimenopause, but diagnoses will usually be determined by:

  • A consultation with a medical practitioner, focusing on women’s menstrual cycles and discussing the history of menopause in their family.
  • Blood tests that look at levels of hormones.
  • Tests to rule out other conditions like thyroid problems.

What perimenopause treatment is available?

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be used to level out the fluctuating hormones and reduce the related symptoms. If mood swings are a problem, women can get mood stabilisers to combat this.

Lifestyle changes are one of the most effective ways to treat perimenopause symptoms. A balanced, healthy diet combined with regular exercise and good mental health. 

Menopause begins when a woman has not had a period for 12 months, but how long does it last? We provide everything you need to know about the duration of menopause on the next page.

How NewWoman Health can help

If you’re concerned about perimenopause, want to learn more, or are seeking treatment from menopause specialists, NewWoman Health is here to help. Our dedicated team of medical professionals can help you to manage or minimise menopause symptoms with a wide range of medical and lifestyle interventions.

 If you want to improve your quality of life, and, potentially, its longevity, in an aspirational and uplifting way, book a personal consultation with us today. Perimenopause can be a time of positivity and opportunity with NewWoman Health.

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You are not alone. As a local example, in Manchester over 46% of council employees are female and over 40 years old. In a CIPD survey (2019) over 30% of women said they were unable to work because of menopausal symptoms.

Only 25% said they could tell their manager the real reason for their absence. The Council account for nearly 7% of all employment in Manchester. They implemented a new Menopause policy in March 2022. CIPD survey | Manchester Council Menopause Policy | CIPD Manchester

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