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Perimenopause means “around menopause.” It’s the time leading up to menopause, when you start having symptoms. There’s no definite perimenopause age for everybody. It usually starts in your 40s, but it can start earlier.

You might notice some, all, or none of these changes during perimenopause:

  • The time between your periods changes (gets either longer or shorter)

  • Totally skipping a period

  • Bleeding during your period changes (gets heavier or lighter)

  • Perimenopause spotting (bleeding between periods)

  • Menopause-like symptoms like: hot flashes, mood swings, problems sleeping, changes in your sex drive and arousal, vaginal dryness/painful sex, bladder infections, and leaking urine/having to pee more often.

These perimenopause symptoms are normal. But it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor or nurse about them, just to make sure everything’s okay. They can also help you get treatment if any of your symptoms are bothering you or messing with your everyday life.

Perimenopause and its symptoms are caused by changes in your hormones (like estrogen). It can last anywhere from a few months to several years. It’s a process that may randomly start, stop, and start up again. You may have a lot of severe symptoms, none at all, or somewhere in between.

Once you go 12 months in a row without a period, perimenopause is done — you’re officially in menopause.

Pregnancy is still possible during perimenopause — even if you’re not getting regular periods. So if you’re having penis-in-vagina sex and don’t want to get pregnant, keep using birth control until you’ve had no periods for at least a year.

Visit your doctor, nurse, or local Planned Parenthood health center to talk about any questions you have about perimenopause, perimenopause symptoms, or birth control.

Tags: menopause, wellness, perimenopause