COVID19 Safety Alert

The Difference Between Perimenopause and Menopause

The Difference Between Perimenopause and Menopause

When most people think about menopause, they imagine hot flashes, mood swings, and weight gain, but interestingly, these symptoms are most often associated with perimenopause. If you’re nearing the next phase of your reproductive life, you might wonder what the difference is between perimenopause and menopause.

As a board-certified OB/GYN, Edward J. Ramirez, MD, FACOG is experienced when it comes to menopause management and offers many options here at The Fertility & Gynecology Center: Monterey Bay to help you cope with the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, two important phases in a woman’s reproductive life.

Below, Dr. Ramirez dives deeper into the topic.

What is menopause?

Menopause is defined as the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles and the permanent end of fertility. It’s officially marked by 12 months without a period, and it’s important to note that menopause isn’t a disease. It is simply a biological process.

Menopause can happen naturally as a woman ages. This is called “natural menopause” because it naturally happens as your reproductive hormones decline. The average age of menopause is 51 years, but it can happen naturally anytime between 45 and 55.

Natural menopause isn’t the only way your fertility can come to an end. Hysterectomies spark an immediate shift into menopause, no matter how old you are. Chemotherapy can also induce menopause. Regardless of whether you have natural menopause or surgery-induced menopause, you can expect to experience hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and amenorrhea. 

What is perimenopause?

If menopause is marked by the end of menstrual cycles and the permanent end of fertility, then perimenopause is the period of transition into menopause, lasting anywhere from a few months to a few years. The average length of perimenopause is four years.  During this time, you may experience:

Note: It’s very common to see irregular periods during perimenopause. You may go a few months without one, only for it to reappear months later. However, once you reach a full calendar year without a period, you’re no longer in perimenopause: you’ve officially hit menopause.

Coping with the symptoms of this transition

Perimenopause and menopause aren’t diseases, but you can still feel uncomfortable. That’s because your hormones fluctuate during this natural biological process. Thankfully, there are many strategies you can employ to find relief from common symptoms like hot flashes and mood swings. Some strategies to consider include:

In addition to these at-home remedies to manage perimenopause symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek gynecologic help. Dr. Ramirez creates treatment protocols based on the type and severity of symptoms. Potential treatments include:

If you’re struggling to feel like yourself during perimenopause or menopause, we can help. Call our Monterey, California office at 831-649-4483, or book your appointment online today.

You Might Also Enjoy...