Let's Talk About Perimenopause

It’s the leadup to menopause, and it can cause some wacky changes in your body. Here, the doctor-vetted details on the symptoms and, if you need ‘em, the top treatments to help you feel calmer, cooler, and all-around less freaked.

    Our Pro PanelPerimenopause

    We went to some of the nation’s top menopause experts to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Diana Bitner, M.D.

    Diana Bitner, M.D.OB/GYN and author of  "I Want to Age Like That! Healthy Aging Through Midlife and Menopause"

    Monica Christmas, M.D.

    Monica Christmas, M.D.Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Director of the Menopause Program

    UChicago Medicine
    Juliana (Jewel) Kling, M.D.

    Juliana Kling, M.D.Associate Professor of Medicine and Associate Chair of Research in the Division of Women’s Health

    Mayo Clinic

    Frequently Asked QuestionsPerimenopause

    Is perimenopause the same as early menopause?

    Nope. Perimenopause is the natural transition and time before menopause; it’s a normal phase in a woman’s life. Early menopause is when a woman goes into full menopause before the age of 45. There’s also premature menopause, when you enter full menopause before 40. Usually, these two occur because a woman has had a hysterectomy (including removal of the ovaries) or has undergone chemotherapy, which can harm the ovaries and launch you into early menopause. If one of more of your female relatives went through early menopause, you have a higher risk of going through it yourself. But the chances are still low: Fewer than 5% of women enter early or premature menopause without having other health conditions.

    How long is too long for a period during menopause or perimenopause?

    Menopause means the cessation of periods for a full year, so if you've entered this phase and then bleeding starts up later on, see your doctor ASAP to make sure you’re not experiencing another health issue. In perimenopause, bleeding that lasts for more than two weeks or that is so heavy it requires a new pad or tampon every one or two hours is a reason to check in with your doc. That said, any bleeding that is uncomfortable or even inconvenient warrants a call to your doctor’s office. There are perimenopause treatments to help reduce heavy bleeding if it is getting in the way of living your life, whether it is considered heavy enough to be a medical issue or not.

    Is there a perimenopause test?

    Perimenopause is usually diagnosed by the main symptom—period changes. However, if you’re unsure or worried about how perimenopause could be affecting your fertility, your doctor can do a series of blood tests to confirm your hormone levels.

    Can I take a perimenopause quiz to find out if I am perimenopausal?

    There is no official perimenopause quiz, and honestly, you probably wouldn’t need one. If you are having the symptoms in this article, suspect you are in perimenopause, and are around the average perimenopause age—from your late thirties to early fifties—well, you most likely are in perimenopause.

    Sara Faye Green

    Sara Faye Green


    Sara Faye Green is a writer who has contributed to Women’s Health, Vice, Guernica, The Rumpus, HuffPo, and elsewhere.