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Perimenopause vs. Premenopause: Symptoms and Stages

Jenna Hilton
June 21, 2022

From the onset of puberty to the end of their reproductive life, women experience hormonal changes. None of these changes happen overnight but take place over a period of years.

A significant transitional point in a woman’s reproductive life is caused by a drop in estrogen levels, followed by the ovaries no longer releasing eggs. The end of the woman’s fertile period is called menopause. It is signaled by 12 months since last menstruation.

Before the menopause, a woman goes through two important periods: premenopause and perimenopause. This article explains the difference between these two stages.

Difference between perimenopause and premenopause

Premenopause vs. Perimenopause

The American Menopause Society (AMS) defines the premenopause as the years between a woman’s first period and the onset of perimenopause. During premenopause a woman does not usually experience the symptoms associated with perimenopause.

Perimenopause is the transitional period before a woman stops her periods altogether. It commonly lasts several years and occurs in women in their 40s and 50s. Perimenopause is characterized by a range of symptoms which have varying degrees of discomfort. All of them signal that the body is slowing down its reproductive functions.

Some people mistakenly use the terms perimenopause and premenopause interchangeably. The medical community only uses the term perimenopause, and doesn’t use the term premenopause.  

What Is Perimenopause?

Perimenopause refers to a period before and after menopause. The word “peri” means around, and the term describes the physiological and emotional changes that happen before the menopause and one year after the woman’s last menstrual cycle.

The key female hormone – estrogen – starts to decline during this stage and causes the ovaries to release fewer eggs. The woman can still get pregnant but it is more difficult.

The duration of perimenopause ranges between several months and ten years, but it typically lasts about four years. Most women enter it in their mid- to late 40s, though it can happen a decade earlier or later.

The symptoms of perimenopause vary and include:

  • Erratic menstrual cycles (longer, shorter, heavier, or lighter)
  • Hot flashes and excessive sweating
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Low sex drive
  • Mood swings
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • Bone mass loss
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Headaches

Note: Learn what causes low sex drive in women and how to treat it.


Conclusion

As they age, women go through natural stages in their reproductive lives. From the start of menstruation in puberty to the last period and beyond, hormonal levels in women’s bodies constantly shift, causing symptoms that range in severity and discomfort.

Whatever stage you are in, it is important to understand what natural, healthy symptoms are and which possibly indicate more serious health concerns. If you are experiencing uncomfortable emotional and physical changes that can be attributed to perimenopause, consult with medical professionals.

There are now effective and safe treatments which ease the transition into menopause and provide improved quality of life and healthy aging. Book an appointment now at Vibrant Vitality Clinic and our expert staff will help you enjoy life whatever your age.

Jenna Hilton
Jenna Hilton has been a practicing PA since 2009, specializing in Family, Internal Medicine and Medical Aesthetics. She attended Arizona State University where she received her Bachelor's Degree and graduated magna cum laude. She received her Master of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies from A.T. Still University.

Jenna has been injecting neurotoxin and dermal filler since 2013. She received certification as a Master Injector in 2017 through Empire Medical in Los Angeles, California. She is currently working on a Fellowship Program in Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine through the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. Her special interests include use of PLLA, Ablative/Non ablative skin resurfacing, PDO threads, hormone therapy and nutritional therapies to improve cellular regeneration and medically supervised weight loss.

Jenna Hilton believes in a multi-factorial approach, considering internal factors that accelerate aging and disease development. She always enjoys teaching. She co-founded Vibrant EDU courses at Vibrant Skin Bar and regularly performs one-on-one training with fellow injectors. She teaches Aesthetic and Advanced Injectable Courses at National Laser Institute. She has been named Preceptor of the Year and is an Adjunct Faculty Member at Midwestern University. She was born in Iowa, and lives with her husband and three children in Phoenix, AZ.

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