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What is perimenopause?

What is perimenopause?

Perimenopause can be a confusing time. A lot of change is happening with your body and you may begin to experience some symptoms. This is not anything to be afraid of, but you should know what it entails and what is coming next.

Perimenopause marks the transition of your body towards menopause. It represents the end of your reproductive years, meaning that your ovaries will gradually begin producing less oestrogen and progesterone. This process can last a few years and will introduce a lot of change in your body.

Although you have not yet hit your menopause, you will most likely begin to experience some menopausal symptoms - these will be the signs to look out for when asking yourself whether or not you are perimenopausal. Definitely begin to take note of your menstrual cycle. Is it becoming irregular? Menstrual irregularities may be one of the best ways for you to determine where your body is at.

Other common symptoms that you may experience during perimenopause:

  • Hot flushes
  • Breast tenderness
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Mood swings

What age does perimenopause start?

Commonly perimenopause will occur around 3-5 years before your menopause, but it will be different for everyone - It could start up to 10 years before you have officially reached menopause.

Similar to menopause, there is not set start date or age for perimenopause. As a general guide, it often begins around your early to mid 40s, however, some women may start it earlier in their 30s. If your periods stop entirely before you are 40, this is known as premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) and you should see a doctor about treatment.

How long does perimenopause last?

To be very blunt, your perimenopause will last up until you have 12 months without a period. As 12 months without a period marks the menopause.

As mentioned above, women typically experience perimenopause for about 3-5 years before menopause. But, there is no cause for concern if you are perimenopausal for longer than that. It may just be taking your body longer to adjust during this transition.

How is perimenopause diagnosed?

The most efficient way to be assessed for perimenopause is to have your symptoms evaluated. If you are under 45, a doctor may offer you a blood test to check your hormone levels. However, your hormones are continuously fluctuating during this time which is what causes symptoms to come on suddenly. Your hormones are swinging about from high too low - so one snapshot blood test of them might not be accurate. Therefore, the doctor may suggest two blood tests 6 weeks apart to confirm whether you are in perimenopause.


  1. Nice.org.uk. 2017. Quality Statement 1: Diagnosing Perimenopause And Menopause | Menopause | Quality Standards | NICE. [online] Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/qs143/chapter/Quality-statement-1-Diagnosing-perimenopause-and-menopause [Accessed 12 October 2020].