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Written by: Dr. Amy Beckley, PhD, Founder and Inventor of the Proov test — the first and only FDA-cleared test to check for successful ovulation at home.
Written on: 6/9/22
At this point in your life, you’ve likely heard of menopause or even perimenopause. For some of us, these terms may seem kind of vague and since experience can vary widely from woman to woman, it can be difficult to know what to expect.
Luckily, there are a few key signs you can look out for to understand when perimenopause is ending. Keep reading to learn more about this transition.
There are a few key signs you can look out for to know if perimenopause is ending.
Perimenopause is the period of time surrounding the last years of a woman’s reproductive life — a transition period a woman experiences before menopause settles in. It can last anywhere from a few years to 10 years, and is accompanied by specific symptoms and hormonal changes.
While eventually we’ll all reach menopause when we’re no longer feritle, this switch doesn’t happen overnight. Over time, the amount of eggs we have left slowly decreases, since women are born with all the eggs they’ll ever have.
As we have less and less eggs, it’s harder for our body to cycle each month, meaning our hormone balance can be thrown out of whack as well. This is what causes the textbook menopause symptoms you always hear about.
But really, these symptoms occur during perimenopause, which marks the transition period between reproductive years and menopause.
Perimenopause is usually considered to have 2 stages: early transition and late transition. It is a normal aging process that the vast majority of women start noticing in their early to mid 40s. While they may not know exactly that they’re starting perimenopause, they may notice changes in their cycle.
Irregular cycles are often the first sign of perimenopause. It ends once a woman hasn’t had a period for at least 12 months — this is when she makes the transition to menopause.
Physical, unpleasant symptoms may occur during perimenopause and most women experience some of these symptoms at one point during their transition:
For most women, perimenopausal symptoms can be managed with lifestyle changes, nutrition hacks, supplements, seed cycling to balance hormones naturally, exercise, or anti-stress techniques.
When symptoms get too severe and impair your overall quality of life, you may want to discuss a different approach with your healthcare provider, such as Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and/or antidepressants.
As you get closer to the end of perimenopause and start approaching menopause, your periods may be more than 60 days apart. This could be the first sign that you’ll soon transition from perimenopause to menopause.
Additionally, you may notice a shift in your hormone levels. Normally, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) should be low at the beginning of your cycle. If you start to see consistently high FSH levels, this could be a sign that menopause is coming.
You also may find your estrogen levels to be lower than normal, due to your ovaries no longer producing eggs or hormones. During the last months of perimenopause, right before you have no eggs left, there is a significant drop in estrogen levels, causing a worsening of symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness and painful intercourse.
You may get a few periods a year and the pattern may be completely unpredictable. With such a drastic change in hormones, mood changes can come along with that more often than not.
If you’re curious about your individual hormone levels, at-home testing is a great way to get an idea of where you stand. The Proov Complete kit measures 4 key cycle hormones — including FSH and a marker of estrogen — to help you better understand your overall hormone balance and ovulation.
Menopause marks the end of your periods and therefore the end of your reproductive years. It starts when you have gone 12 months without a period, and for most women this occurs around the age of 50-51 years old.
Menopause is considered to have three stages:
When you are declared “in menopause,” your ovaries have stopped functioning, you are no longer ovulating and can’t get pregnant anymore. The symptoms are pretty much the same as the perimenopause ones, although they get less severe in time.
The severity of symptoms varies from one woman to another, and not all women will experience all symptoms throughout this period. You can learn to avoid triggers to hot flashes and ways to minimize the symptoms, by using simple tricks: keep the room cool at night, wear thinner clothes when going to bed, quit smoking, and avoid very spicy foods.
In order to improve your sleep, light exercising may help you relax and achieve a better night’s rest. Joining a support group might be a great option as well. Getting in touch with women who are going through the same things as you, helps you see you are not alone, and gives you the possibility to share your experience with people who actually understand.
Many women mistake perimenopause for menopause and vice versa. And even if the perimenopause symptoms may last years after menopause installs, the big difference between the two is the absence of periods.
You are officially in menopause when on top of having the symptoms and hormone levels that confirm it on paper, you have also gone one full year without a period. If you are still bleeding here and there, even very sporadically, you are not considered to be fully menopause.
Doctors recommend that unless you have gone one full year without a period, you should still use a form of birth control unless you are trying to conceive. Even if conception is less and less likely to occur as we get older and we approach the end of our reproductive period, ovulation is still possible as long as you still have menstrual bleeding.
Testing your hormones at home is a great option to understand where you are, in regards to your fertility and when perimenopause is ending.