Abstract: Perimenopause is a process that can take years – so what are the signs perimenopause is ending?
Are you riding the rollercoaster of perimenopause and eager for the ride to end? If so, you might be looking for signs your journey is nearing its final stop – menopause.
Recognizing signs perimenopause is ending can be very difficult for all women – but there are some simple solutions that can make spotting the signs a little bit easier.
The perimenopause phase begins anywhere between a woman’s mid-30s to mid-50s and can last up to 10 years.
Perimenopause ends with menopause, which is actually just one day in a woman’s life (the 1-year anniversary of the last time you had a period).
Keep reading to learn:
- Signs perimenopause has begun
- Signs perimenopause is ending
- How to notice signs perimenopause is ending
- 10 signs perimenopause is ending
- Stay in-the-know on women’s health issues
Signs perimenopause has begun
In order to understand any signs perimenopause is ending, we should briefly refresh ourselves on what perimenopause is and how we know we’ve entered the perimenopause.
Here are some key definitions that will help.
What is perimenopause?
Perimenopause is the time in a woman’s life when menstruation is slowly coming to an end. The perimenopausal phase can take anywhere between two years to ten years.
Perimenopause is a natural part of a woman’s life, and you can learn more about how, why and when perimenopause is likely to take place.
When does perimenopause start?
Perimenopause can begin anywhere between a woman’s mid-30s to her mid-50s. One of the key signs of perimenopause is irregular periods.
What is an irregular period?
An irregular period means that your typical monthly cycles have begun to change (get shorter or longer, come later or sooner than expected, with bleeding that is heavier or lighter than what is usual for your body.
A “regular” period is usually 4 – 7 days long, and occurs roughly once every 28 days. In contrast, a period is considered “irregular” if it comes in fewer than 21 days or more than 35 days apart, or if you miss more than three periods in a row.
Symptoms of perimenopause
Some common symptoms of perimenopause include:
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Chills and cold spells
- Trouble sleeping, including nightmares
- Mental confusion and “brain fog”
- Vaginal dryness, discomfort during sex, and decreased interested in sex
Signs perimenopause is ending
As mentioned above, perimenopause can last for years – so how are women to know when this phase of their lives is coming to an end?
To answer that question, let’s first talk about the phase that comes after perimenopause: menopause.
When does menopause begin?
When perimenopause ends, menopause has officially begun. But what exactly is menopause?
Actually, you may be surprised to know that “menopause” is just one day of your life.
We refer to it as a phase of life, but it’s actually the one-year anniversary of the last period you ever had. One day, you’ll start your last period – but you won’t know it’s your last time until one full year (12 months) later.
What are the signs that perimenopause is ending?
This can be a tough question to answer. Everyone experiences different periods, different symptoms, and as mentioned above, perimenopause can last for years.
Your experience and duration of perimenopause may be different from that of your sister’s, or your mother’s, or your friend’s. As mentioned above, you won’t know that you’ve had your last period until you’ve gone 12 months without one.
However, you can expect to go through three phases during perimenopause:
- Phase 1: Your regular monthly period is interrupted by months of irregularity (changes to length, flow, etc).
- Phase 2: Your irregular periods start to come less frequently. You may go months without any sign of a period, and then experience a full period or only some light spotting unexpectedly.
- Phase 3: The one-year anniversary of your last period. On this day, you have “experienced menopause,” and from then on you will no longer ovulate, have periods, or be able to conceive a child.
Menopause causes changes to hormone production, which can have a significant impact on your physical and mental health.
Once you reach perimenopause, you should keep track of regular screening tests that will help you monitor your physical and mental health as you age.
How to notice signs perimenopause is ending
At the end of the day, in order to recognize the signs that perimenopause is ending, you need to be the expert on your menstrual cycle.
Only if you know exactly what “normal” is for your body will you be able to truly notice when things begin to change. The term “irregular period” means nothing if you don’t have a baseline to compare it to.
Which is how we’ve come to our next piece of advice for all women (see below).
Become the expert on your cycle
It’s extremely important to track your menstrual cycles, even if you’re not trying to conceive (which is, for many women, the only time in their lives that they rigorously track their cycles and cycle symptoms).
It can be time-consuming to track each symptom of each month of your period, but we cannot stress enough how empowering it will be for you to become an expert on your cycle.
By religiously tracking your cycles each month, you will be the expert on:
- The length of each cycle: How long is your cycle? 25 days, 28 days? If you know this, you’ll know immediately if your period starts coming sooner or later during perimenopause, and whether or not your period starts skipping months (common in perimenopause).
- The length of each period: This will allow you to know with confidence how many days you usually bleed for (3 days, 7 days). If your periods become shorter or longer, you’ll know at once.
- The symptoms of your period: Do you usually have cramps? Do you only have cramps on day 2? Do you get cramps 4 days before your period but not during your period? The more detail you include in your tracking app or period journal, the better prepared you’ll be to immediately spot changes in later years.
- Mood monitoring: Many women experience low mood immediately before or during their period. Many women also experience changes to their mood during perimenopause. If you track even your emotional symptoms, you’ll be able to speak to your healthcare provider about low moods that seem to persist for days or weeks at a time, which will allow you and your doctor to determine what you need to maintain your health.
Ideally, all women should track their periods from puberty to menopause so that they have a lifetime of knowledge about their reproductive and hormonal health.
If you have never tracked your periods before in your life, it’s not too late to start. If you have already reached the perimenopausal phase of your life, you should start keeping a journal of the dates and symptoms of any irregular periods you have, as well as any health issues you experience.
If ever you need to consult a health expert regarding your health, the more information you have, the easier it will be to assess, diagnose, and treat symptoms and conditions as they arise.
10 Signs perimenopause may be ending
As you track your cycle, begin to look out for the following signs that may indicate perimenopause is ending.
- Irregular Periods: A notable decrease in the frequency of periods, or irregular cycles.
- Lighter Periods: Reduced menstrual flow or shorter duration of periods.
- Change in Hot Flashes: For some women menopause marks the end of perimenopause hot flashes, while for others, menopause means the beginning of hot flashes.
- Stabilizing Mood Swings: Less severe or less frequent mood swings. For some women entering menopause marks fewer mood swings and psychological symptoms.
- Improved Sleep Patterns: Many women notice that the sleep disturbances experienced during perimenopause decrease after menopause.
- Changes in Vaginal Health: Menopause marks a permanent drop in estrogen, which can lead to vulvovaginall atrophy and vaginal dryness.
- Stabilization of Hormonal Fluctuations: Fewer symptoms associated with hormonal imbalance.
- Return of Libido: Some women may notice an increase in sexual desire or a stabilization of libido. However, sexual dysfunction may be more likely due to vaginal atrophy.
- Bone Density Instability: Estrogen is critical for bone health and with lower levels you may be at an increased risk for osteoporosis.
- Hair and Skin Changes: Changes in hair (less hair loss) and skin (less dryness) indicating hormonal shifts are settling.
The journey towards the end of perimenopause is a deeply personal and varied experience, characterized by changes that may include increasingly spaced-out periods or even an absence of menstruation for months. However, the path is not uniform for everyone. While some may encounter intensified symptoms like hot flashes as they approach menopause, others might only experience these after the transition is complete.
For those seeking a deeper understanding of their symptoms or interested in hormone testing, consulting with a healthcare professional is advisable. The right healthcare specialist can provide tailored advice and support, helping to navigate this complex but natural stage of life with greater ease and clarity.
Stay in-the-know on women’s health issues by following Revivele
Revivele is a research-based information resource for women, by women. We believe that every woman should have access to the information she needs to prioritize her health, advocate for her needs, and take action to prevent the development of possible health concerns like dementia.
Imbalanced hormones can be frustrating, exhausting, confusing, and stressful for women experiencing fluctuations.
With more knowledge about your hormones, your health, and your brain health, you can demystify the aging process and take steps to maintain your health as you age.
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If you’re interested in learning more about how to maintain your health as you age, read our other blogs, which are full of helpful details, research, and woman-to-woman understanding. We’re all in this together!
To learn more about perimenopause and other women’s health issues, be sure to read Dr. Kavita Desai’s new book, Lady Parts: Putting Women’s Health Back Into Women’s Hands, and follow her women’s health & wellness company, Revivele, on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn!
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