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What’s the Difference Between Premenopause, Perimenopause, and Menopause?

Last updated on June 24, 2019

The passage from a girl to woman and from a woman to a child-bearer brings its own changes to the body.

For one, hormonal changes occur throughout a woman’s fertility cycle. These changes then give rise to emotional distress that can make physical problems worse.

Second, premenopause syndrome, is widespread among women and predisposes her to having continuing issues during and post-menopause.

Premenopause vs. Perimenopause

Both these terms are often used in a similar way, but there is a difference between them.

Perimenopause is a transitional phase that occurs before menopause.

Premenopause is still a phase prior to menopause. However, you will still have a menstrual period and show no symptoms of menopause during this period.


The word “pre” means “before,” while “peri” means “near, surrounding.”


Premenopause is the time when you don’t have any symptoms of menopause. It is the period before a woman enters menopause, and can be as much as 20 years before you hit menopause.

If you’re a woman between the ages of 30-50, maybe you’ve experienced fibroids, tender or lumpy breasts, endometriosis, PMP, difficulty in conceiving, migraines, headaches, or heavy and light periods. All these symptoms are part of premenopause and are a result of hormonal imbalances that occur.

Many doctors also refer to premenopause as the time between the first and the last period of a woman. During the time a woman is closer to menopause she might notice a drop in her hormone levels.

Whereas, perimenopause is the period right before menopause. Often, women experience emotional and physiological challenges during these volatile years before her period ends. During perimenopause, the body is making its natural transition towards the end of its reproductive years.


What Happens During Perimenopause?

Perimenopause occurs 3-4 years before you start menopause. However, for some women it can start as early as 10 years before menopause.

During this stage, your ovaries reduce the amount of estrogen they produce. Eventually, your ovaries will stop releasing eggs and your period will come to a halt.

When you’re in perimenopause, you can still get pregnant. As a woman gets closer to menopause, the symptoms of perimenopause will become more pronounced.


Common Symptoms of Perimenopause

This is the time when you start experiencing all the troublesome symptoms that come when your reproductive system is about to shut down.

You might often hear your friends who are suffering from perimenopause say, “These hot flashes and night sweats are killing me!”

Insomnia is another common symptom. Many women also complain about mood swings and irritability.

Other symptoms include female incontinence as your pelvic muscles start getting weak. You may also notice a change in your periods – they become irregular or the cycles get longer or shorter. Sometimes, it may feel like your body is completely out of control.

All About Menopause

perimenopause, Your OB/Gyn

Menopause usually occurs during the late 40s or early 50s for most women. Women who have their ovaries surgically removed might experience sudden menopause. As menopause approaches, ovaries don’t release eggs into the fallopian tubes and women lose their menstrual cycle.

Natural menopause is when menstruation permanently ends without any medical intervention. This is a gradual process, and when a woman doesn’t have periods for over 12 months, doctors confirm menopause.

Some of the common symptoms of menopause include vaginal dryness or discomfort during sex, emotional changes, hot flashes, dry skin, mouth and eyes, and urinary urgency. You might also experience difficulty in sleeping and mild depression.


Treatment Options for Perimenopause and Menopause

Though every woman has to go through these life stages, your doctor can prescribe medicine to relieve your symptoms.

Estrogen therapy can normalize hormonal levels so that sudden fluctuations don’t cause uncomfortable symptoms. You can opt for pills, creams, gels or skin patches.

Regular exercise can also help in improving your mood, reducing hot flashes, and beating weight gain issues. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try relaxing activities like taking a warm bath or gentle yoga. Make sure you avoid sleeping during the day so that it doesn’t interfere with your nighttime sleep routine.

Let’s get acquainted with the different life-cycles that affect a woman’s body.

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