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What is Perimenopause & How Will I Know?

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

Perimenopause is a natural phase that marks the transition towards menopause. Often misunderstood or overlooked, perimenopause brings about hormonal shifts and changes that can affect both physical and emotional well-being.

Green leaves with tiny beads spelling "hormones" laying on top of one leaf

Perimenopause typically starts in a woman's late 30s or 40s but can vary for each individual. During perimenopause, hormonal fluctuations become more pronounced, leading to irregular menstrual cycles and various symptoms. This phase serves as a bridge between reproductive years and menopause, which is officially confirmed after 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period.

Recognizing the Signs of Perimenopause:

  1. Irregular Menstrual Cycles: One of the most noticeable signs is changes in menstrual patterns. Periods may become irregular, shorter, longer, heavier, or lighter than usual.

  2. Hot Flashes and Night Sweats: Hormonal shifts can trigger sudden feelings of intense heat, often accompanied by sweating, especially at night.

  3. Mood Changes: Fluctuating hormones can contribute to mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and even depression.

  4. Sleep Disturbances: Insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns may become more common due to hormonal imbalances.

  5. Vaginal Changes: Reduced estrogen levels can lead to vaginal dryness, discomfort during intercourse, and an increased risk of urinary tract infections.

  6. Changes in Libido: Hormonal fluctuations may affect sexual desire and arousal.

  7. Physical Changes: Perimenopause can bring about changes in metabolism, weight distribution, and breast tissue.

  8. Memory and Concentration: Some women report experiencing memory lapses or difficulty concentrating during perimenopause.

Possible Signs of Perimenopause (although it differs for everyone!):

  1. Track Your Menstrual Cycles: Keep a record of your menstrual cycle length, flow, and symptoms to identify patterns of irregularity.

  2. Notice Physical Changes: Be attentive to any changes in mood, sleep quality, or physical symptoms that seem to align with hormonal fluctuations.

  3. Consult a Healthcare Professional: If you suspect you're in perimenopause, it's crucial to consult a healthcare provider. They can help confirm your stage of transition and provide guidance on managing symptoms.

  4. Hormone or other Lab Testing: Your healthcare provider may recommend hormone testing, such as measuring levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estrogen, or cortisol or other inflammatory markers, to determine your hormonal status.

Understanding perimenopause empowers you to navigate this transition with greater awareness and preparedness. Remember that each woman's experience is unique, and seeking professional guidance is key to managing symptoms and optimizing well-being during this phase of life.

(Note: This blog post is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance and care during perimenopause.)



About Michelle

Michelle is a Doctor of Physical Therapy at Webb Physical Therapy, located in Lawrence, Kansas.  She's worked in PT for close to 10 years, and believes each patient should be treated with a holistic, whole person approach to healing.

She is devoted to helping her patients develop individualized treatment plans to help them achieve their specific goals.

Call (785) 813-1338 for a free 15 minute phone consultation, or email

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