Definition - What does Perimenopause mean?

Perimenopause is a period where women undergo the natural transition from regular menstruation to the cessation of periods, during which they may experience emotional and physical symptoms due to alterations in sex hormones.

Perimenopause usually starts around the age of 40 and lasts 3-4 years. A decline in reproductive function during perimenopause greatly affects a woman's fertility.

The chances of conception are further reduced as a woman progresses through the years of perimenopause, and a woman ultimately becomes infertile when she reaches menopause.

FertilitySmarts explains Perimenopause

The beginning of perimenopause is usually determined by the beginning of irregular periods. Perimenopause typically occurs in most women between the ages of 40 to 50 years and can last for about 4 to 8 years. The absence of periods for 12 continuous months marks the end of perimenopause.

During perimenopause, the levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone in the body undergo abrupt changes. As a result, women who are in perimenopause may experience irregular periods, frequent mood changes, hot flashes, sleep disturbances and changes in sexual interest.

Although women in perimenopause still have the ability to conceive, it markedly reduces their fertility. With age, ovaries gradually lose their ability to make hormones. They become less responsive to stimulating hormones by the pituitary and the quality of eggs also gradually declines. With changes in hormones, the release of the eggs from the ovary becomes irregular, which makes it difficult to predict a woman's fertile period.

Women are considered infertile after reaching menopause.

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