The average woman will Google 3,024 health-related questions in her adult life (!!!), and many of those questions surround menopause, ranging from queries like perimenopause symptoms to how long do hot flashes last.To help you navigate the process of estrogen loss, we sat down with OBGYN Dr. Tamika Cross to chat all things perimenopause.
Q: What is perimenopause?
A: “Perimenopause is the period around menopause - “peri” meaning “around.” I always tell people that menopause is a transition; it’s defined as having gone 12 calendar months without a menstrual cycle. But the time leading up to that, the menopausal transition and time right afterwards could total up to around 4 or 5 years. This transition usually starts with women missing periods here or there.”
Q: What are perimenopause symptoms?
A: “In the time leading up to menopause, you’ll start to see spotting instead of periods, sometimes heavier periods, maybe missed periods, vaginal dryness, mood swings, low libido, even hot flashes start to creep up even when you’re still menstruating.”
Q: When does perimenopause start?
A: “I tend to see patients with perimenopause symptoms in their mid to late 40s, and then usually by 51 or 52 they’ve gone a full calendar year without having had a period.”
Q: What’s the difference between perimenopause, premenopause, and postmenopause?
A: “This is actually a question I get a lot! Patients get confused about which stage they’re in because the Internet uses a lot of terms interchangeably and that’s the main source of information for a lot of us. But if we think of menopause (having gone 12 months without a period) as a transition, premenopause is the time leading up to it, postmenopause is the time after it, and perimenopause is both the time leading up to and after the transition. For example, if at age 47 perimenopause symptoms start, age 51 the period stops, and age 53 the symptoms go away, premenopause would be from 47-51, postmenopause would be from 51-53, and perimenopause would be from 47-53.”
Q: Do you have any advice for women going through perimenopause?
A: “Understand that it is a transition and your body will be going through a myriad of changes physically and hormonal. With the help of a trusted healthcare provider, and recommendations for medications or over the counter useful products, this transition can be a smooth one.”
For more from Dr. Cross, follow her on Instagram @tcross_md.