Menopause isn’t a sudden change.
It’s a transition that takes place over time. In fact, you might experience symptoms for years before your final menstrual period, as the levels of ovarian hormones in your body continue to change. These estrogen levels decline in an uneven fashion, and fluctuate as they may sometimes actually be higher than when you were younger.2
This phase of menopause is called perimenopause (meaning “around menopause). Perimenopause is when your body begins its move into menopause. It includes the two-to-eight year time frame leading up to menopause, as well as the first year after your final period. There is no way to determine how long this phase will take, until you go through it.3
Most of the symptoms of menopause are actually perimenopause symptoms, including irregular menstrual periods, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, disturbance of sleep, and mood swings. During this time it is still possible for a woman to get pregnant, although this is rare.2 If you have concerns about getting pregnant while going through menopause, or for more information about using birth control during this time, talk to your healthcare provider.
- Data on file, Perrigo.
- The North American Menopause Society. The Menopause Guidebook, Seventh Edition. 2012. pp. 4, 33.
- G Ellis. Understanding what happens in menopause. Philadelphia Tribune, February 24, 2015:8A.