Perimenopause

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Perimenopause is the span of years before menopause when a woman's hormone levels and menstrual periods become irregular. Perimenopause has been described as "going through menopause" or "being in menopause."

After 1 year of having no periods, a woman has reached menopause. This is usually around age 50. In the years before menopause, changing hormone levels, especially estrogen and progesterone, cause perimenopausal symptoms. These typically start in a woman's mid-40s, and they continue for a year or two after menopause.

Some women have mild perimenopausal symptoms. Others have severe symptoms that affect their sleep and daily lives. Symptoms can include:

  • Unpredictable changes in menstrual pattern, including heavier or lighter blood flows and shorter or longer cycles.
  • Hot flashes.
  • Night sweats and sleep problems (insomnia).
  • Vaginal itching or dryness, causing discomfort during sexual activity.
  • Decreased sex drive (libido).

Symptoms related to mood and thinking may also happen around the time of menopause. These include:

  • Memory problems and lack of concentration.
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety, irritability, and mood swings.



The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.