What is perimenopause?

Updated: Jan 30, 2019
  • Author: Nita V Bhatt, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Ana Hategan, MD, FRCPC  more...
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Menopausal transition, or perimenopause, is the period between the onset of irregular menstrual cycles and the last menstrual period. This period is marked by fluctuations in reproductive hormones [3] and is characterized by the following:

  • Menstrual irregularities

  • Prolonged and heavy menstruation intermixed with episodes of amenorrhea

  • Vasomotor symptoms

  • Insomnia

Some of these symptoms may emerge 4 years before menses cease, with a perimenopausal mean age of onset of 47.5 years. [4] During the menopausal transition, estrogen levels decline and levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) increase. [5, 6]

Postmenopause is the phase following the last menstrual period.

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