You’re probably well aware of menopause. It’s the time in every woman’s life when her periods stop and she can no longer get pregnant. But did you know that changes in your menstrual cycles can happen long before menopause officially begins?
Before you enter menopause, your body goes through perimenopause. It typically starts in your late 30s or 40s, and lasts an average of four years. During this time, hormonal changes significantly impact your health — including your menstrual cycle.
If you’re in perimenopause, we’re here to help you understand what you can expect. Farly Sejour, MD, Natalie Gould, WHNP-BC, and our team at Solace Women’s Care provide comprehensive menopause education. Take a moment to learn how perimenopause affects your periods.
Understanding the ways perimenopause can change your periods
Perimenopause is characterized by declining hormone levels, particularly estrogen and progesterone. As your ovaries decrease production of these hormones, menstrual changes become increasingly common. You might experience:
Hormonal fluctuation can make your periods irregular. You may notice that your periods occur closer together or further apart. Along with timing, duration and flow may vary. In some months, you may experience heavier bleeding, while the flow may be lighter in other months.
As perimenopause progresses, you might start to skip periods or have longer gaps between them. This happens because declining hormone levels interfere with your body’s regular ovulation process.
It’s important to remember that you can still get pregnant during perimenopause, and irregular periods can make it more challenging to predict ovulation.
Changes in flow
It’s not uncommon for women in perimenopause to experience changes in the flow of their periods. Bleeding may be heavier or lighter than it used to be. You might also notice that the length of your periods also changes.
Spotting between periods
Spotting, or light bleeding between periods, can also occur during perimenopause. While it’s typically attributed to hormonal changes that thin your uterine lining, you should always discuss unusual bleeding with your health care team to rule out any underlying concerns.
Increased PMS symptoms
Along with period changes, some women may notice worsening premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms during perimenopause. PMS symptoms can include mood swings, breast tenderness, bloating, and irritability.
Unfortunately, hormonal fluctuations can exacerbate these symptoms and make them more pronounced than before.
Managing perimenopausal period changes
The changes in your menstrual cycle during perimenopause can be unsettling and make you wonder what’s going on with your body. Fortunately, we have ways to manage and alleviate your symptoms.
If you think you’re in perimenopause, it’s important to have regular checkups. We can monitor your health, provide guidance, and address any concerns you have about your changing periods.
Depending on your situation, Dr. Sejour and our team may recommend:
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep helps regulate your hormone levels. Fewer fluctuations can reduce the severity of perimenopausal symptoms, including changes in your periods.
Tracking your periods
Unpredictable periods are frustrating, and keeping track of your periods can help you identify any patterns or changes that develop during perimenopause. Consider using a period tracking app to help you monitor your cycle and record any symptoms you experience.
Trying hormone therapy
In some cases, we may discuss hormone replacement therapy to treat severe perimenopausal symptoms and irregular periods. Hormone therapy helps manage hormonal fluctuation to minimize symptoms, but it does come with a risk of side effects, so it’s important to find out if it’s recommended for you.
Perimenopause is a natural phase in every woman's life, but changing periods can cause uncertainty and annoying symptoms. While it can be challenging to navigate these changes, we’re here to help.
Call 936-441-7100 to schedule an appointment at our office in Conroe, Texas, or send our team a message online today.