What is perimenopause?

Perimenopause is a naturally occurring condition in women and refers to the time around which a woman reaches menopause. Menopause is a naturally occurring condition in women and is the cessation of menstrual periods. It marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years and is defined medically as the absence of menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months. Menopause typically happens between the ages of 45 and 55. During menopause, a women’s reproductive system changes, resulting in a discontinuation of estrogen production, the menstrual cycle, and egg maturation.

Perimenopause develops when the female reproductive system begins slowing down, resulting in decreased production of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Decreased hormone levels cause a coinciding drop in the production of eggs and in the frequency of menstrual periods. Menopause creates changes in the vagina, vaginal secretions, and outer genitalia. It most commonly develops over a period of one to five years.

The symptoms of perimenopause are different for every woman. Symptoms of the menopausal transition commonly begin a few years prior to the cessation of menses. The most common symptom of the perimenopause is hot flashes, but a number of other symptoms can occur.

Perimenopause symptoms can occur frequently or only occasionally. Some women do not experience any symptoms of menopause while others have sweats, hot flashes, and emotional distress. The symptoms may range in intensity from mild to severe. Fortunately, the symptoms of perimenopause can be managed with hormone therapy, medications, and lifestyle changes.

Perimenopause is not a disease process. Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for menopause but mild symptoms recur or are persistent.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of perimenopause?

Perimenopause causes a reduction in the production of the female hormones that can result in a number of symptoms. The symptoms can vary in intensity among individuals.... Read more about perimenopausesymptoms

CAUSES

What causes perimenopause?

Perimenopause is brought on by the decreased production of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. As a result, the female reproductive system begins slowing down, producing fewer eggs in the ovaries and less menstruation. Perimenopause causes changes in the vagina, vaginal secretions, and outer genitalia. It most commonly develops over a period of one to five years.... Read more about perimenopausecauses

TREATMENTS

How is perimenopause treated?

Treatment for perimenopause is not always necessary. It is a normal part of life and not a disease process. However, some of the symptoms may be uncomfortable, and treatment of these symptoms is possible. Some women with perimenopause may not have any troubling symptoms, but if symptoms do occur, there are several treatment options for reducing or eliminating them. Your health care provider will assess the best treatment options for you based on your age, the severity of your symptoms, and your individual risk for cardiovascular disease, blood clots, breast cancer and stroke.... Read more about perimenopausetreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.