Gynaecologist shares the signs perimenopause is ending

Natalie Cornish
·2-min read
Photo credit: Mónica E. Vázquez Alvarez
Photo credit: Mónica E. Vázquez Alvarez

Menopause can last longer than most people think, with the two stages of menopause transition (perimenopause and menopause itself) often spanning more than a decade.

It's important to note the difference between the two. Perimenopause is when oestrogen production in the ovaries begins to slow (often in our 40s), while menopause sees the ovaries stop releasing eggs (usually in our early 50s). But the symptoms of the two are often the same (think hot flushes, brain fog and mood swings) – and a woman's menopause transition is wholly individual in terms of age and symptoms – so it's often difficult to work out which of the two stages you are in.

We asked Dr Ashfaq Khan, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Harley Street Gynaecology, to share the signs perimenopause is ending.

What is perimenopause?

'Perimenopause signals the beginning of the end of a woman’s reproductive ability, and can last anywhere from a couple of years to a decade before she reaches full menopause,' Dr Khan says.

'Most women begin to experience perimenopausal symptoms in their 40s, but sometimes in late 30s. Although of course this varies between individuals. What may be assumed as PMS, or indeed menopause itself, may in fact be a symptom of perimenopause, including erratic mood swings, hot flushes and night sweats, as well as feeling exhausted.'

What are the signs perimenopause is ending?

'Women can expect their periods to become increasingly irregular between their mid-40s and mid-50s, before they finally stop altogether,' says Dr Khan.

'During the late stage of perimenopause – which occurs around six months before the onset of menopause – oestrogen levels will drop significantly, often resulting in further hot flushes, sleepless nights, vaginal dryness or painful intercourse which can continue throughout the first few years of the menopause. Change of hormone levels can also effect normal metabolism of the body and cause imbalance of electrolyte or micronutrients levels.

'Menopause is said to have commenced when a full 12 months has passed without a period.'

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