Menopause is the time of life when your body stops having periods, and you can no longer get pregnant. You’re officially in menopause when you haven’t had a period for 12 months.
However, before you hit menopause, you experience perimenopause, which is the time in which your body undergoes its transition from fertility and regular periods to a full cessation of menstruation. Perimenopause can last for up to 10 years, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Perimenopause can be a confusing time, in part because your periods can start occurring differently than they did before perimenopause.
The team of care providers at Associates in Women’s Health in Cincinnati would like to take some of the mystery out of perimenopause. Here we explain the ways in which your menstrual periods could shift during perimenopause.
During perimenopause, the frequency of your periods may change. This is the result of fluctuations in hormone levels that can alter ovulation, or the release of eggs from your ovaries.
Perimenopause may lead you to have periods more often or less often. Even if you had regular cycles before perimenopause, you may suddenly start having cycles of different lengths. Further into perimenopause, you’re likely to start skipping periods.
Perimenopause can affect how long you bleed, leading to some short periods, some long periods, and some average-length periods. As with so many other period-related changes, the length of bleeding is determined by hormonal shifts.
Perimenopausal hormonal changes can lead to a variety of different bleeding patterns. You may have heavy menstrual bleeding one month and light bleeding the next. You may even experience bleeding or spotting between periods – or you may skip your period completely some months.
Although changes in the frequency and length of periods, as well as the amount of bleeding you experience, are normal during perimenopause, in some cases they can be a sign of a medical problem. For that reason, you should tell your provider if you notice any changes in bleeding patterns or if you have pain or bleeding after sex.
The care providers at Associates in Women’s Health are ready to answer all of your perimenopause questions, evaluate any perimenopause symptoms, and work with you to create a customized plan for any medical or lifestyle issues you may face. Bring your questions or concerns to your yearly well-woman exam, or schedule an appointment with one of our providers by calling our office at 513-794-1500 or requesting an appointment today.