Table of Contents
Definition of Perimenopause and Symptoms
The length of perimenopause varies widely though tends to be five to seven years. Perimenopause begins with the changes in the menstrual cycle that herald the approach of menopause. These changes include irregular spacing of menstrual periods (including skipped periods), unusually heavy or light menstrual flow, light breakthrough bleeding (bleeding between periods), and hot flashes.
Bleeding between periods may indicate a health condition that requires treatment. A doctor should evaluate breakthrough bleeding to determine whether it is normal.
Because pregnancy is possible during perimenopause, as ovulation may occur intermittently, a woman who has two consecutive skipped menstrual periods should have a pregnancy test.
Women typically experience a range of fluctuating discomforts, notably hot flashes and sleep disturbances, during the menopausal transition. Menopause is a point in time identified in retrospect as the complete absence of menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months.
Page last reviewed: