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Perimenopause vs. Menopause

The main difference between perimenopause and menopause is that perimenopause is the stage before menopause whereas menopause is the absence of periods for 12 months.

Key Differences

Perimenopause can start eight or ten years before menopause whereas menopause starts between 45 and 55 years old woman.
Perimenopause is the indicator of menopause coming whereas menopause marks the end of the female reproduction system.
In perimenopause, estrogen production drops whereas in menopause no estrogen production.

Comparison Chart


Perimenopause is defined as the stage before menopause when ovaries of a woman gradually start to produce less estrogen.
Menopause is defined as the stage when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally.


Eight or ten years before menopause
45 to 55 years


Trouble sleeping, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood changes, depression
Irregular menstruation, hot flashes, elevated heart rate, mood changes, sleep disturbance, vaginal discomfort, and urinary issues.


Hormone therapy, vaginal estrogen, antidepressants, and gabapentin
Hormone therapy, vaginal estrogen, low dose antidepressants and clonidine

Perimenopause and Menopause Definitions


The period of a woman's life characterized by physiological changes associated with the end of reproductive capacity, terminating with the completion of menopause. Also called climacteric.


The permanent cessation of menstruation, usually occurring between the ages of 45 and 55.


The physiological stage that women approaching menopause go through when, due to hormonal changes, they progress from their usual pattern of menstruation through a phase of atypical menstruation, and finally cease menstruating. Perimenopause ends when a woman has not menstruated for a year.


The period during which such cessation occurs. In both sense, also called climacteric.


The period in a woman's life when menstruation becomes irregular and less frequent before eventually stopping altogether, usually accompanied by a range of unpleasant symptoms; the period spanning perimenopause up to postmenopause.


The final menstrual period of a woman after which ovulation no longer occurs.


The period of natural cessation of menstruation. See Change of life, under Change.


The time in a woman's life in which the menstrual cycle ends

Perimenopause vs. Menopause

Perimenopause is the phase before menopause. In perimenopause, ovaries of the female reproductive system start to produce less estrogen gradually while menopause occurs after perimenopause and in this stage; no estrogen is produced by ovaries. After menopause, no changes in pregnancy are left. In perimenopause, symptoms of hot flashes, trouble sleeping, vaginal dryness, mood changes, and depression can be seen. Women with perimenopause phase, breast tenderness, irregular periods, worsening of premenstrual syndrome, periods with lighter or heavier than usual can suffer. In menopause, symptoms of hot flashes or cold flashes, difficulty sleeping (insomnia), vaginal dryness and emotional changes can be seen. Some women can also experience loss of libido, elevated blood pressure, weight gain, hair loss, headaches, joint, and muscles ache and difficulty in concentration.

For the treatment of perimenopause, hormone and drug therapy are used. Systemic estrogen therapy has remained a very successful treatment option for relieving from perimenopause symptoms. For the treatment of vaginal dryness, estrogen can be administered directly to the vagina via a vaginal tablet. Similarly, antidepressants (SSRIs) and gabapentin are also used. Similarly, for the treatment of menopause, hormone therapy, vaginal estrogen, low dose antidepressants, clonidine and medications to treat osteoporosis are used.

What is Perimenopause?

Perimenopause is also called as the menopause transitional phase because it happens before menopause. Perimenopause is the time when both ovaries of a woman gradually begin to make less estrogen which is a sex hormone. During perimenopause, the woman starts to experience symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, changes in period cycle, sleep disturbances or mood swings. It occurs well before woman officially hits menopause. In fact, a woman enters this stage eight to ten years ahead of menopause almost in the 30s or 40s of age. It is shown due to the drop in estrogen hormone production which is the main female hormone synthesized in the ovaries. The estrogen level can also go up and down more sporadically than an average 28 days cycle which may cause irregular periods and other related symptoms. During the last stages of perimenopause, the body will produce less estrogen. Despite the sharp drop in estrogen, it is possible to get pregnant. That phase of menopause can last for as little as a few months and as long as four years. The average duration of perimenopause is about four years, but in some women, this stage may last only a few months and can continue for ten years.

A doctor can make the diagnosis of perimenopause based on the symptoms of a woman. A blood test is taken to check hormone levels may also help in diagnosis, but hormones levels show fluctuations during menopause. It may be more helpful to have many blood tests done at different times for comparison.

What is Menopause?

Menopause officially indicates the end of female production. Although this stage is well known, there are actually different phases within menopause that are important to identify and understand. Menopause itself officially happens when a woman stops menstruating. It starts when the ovaries produce so little estrogen that eggs are no longer released. This also causes a woman’s period to stop. Periods usually start to become very less frequent over a few months or years before they stop together. Sometimes they can stop suddenly. The menopause is a very natural part of aging that mostly occurs between 45 and 55 years as a woman’s estrogen level decrease. In the UK, the mean age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51. However, around 1 in 100 women experience menopause before 40 years of age. This is called premature ovarian insufficiency or premature menopause. Most women will experience menopausal symptoms. Some of them can be severe and have a significant impact on your everyday activities. It is worth talking to a physician if a woman has menopausal symptoms that are troubling her or if she is experiencing symptoms of the menopause before 45 years of age. A physician can usually confirm whether a woman has menopause’s symptoms. But if a woman is under 45, then a blood test is performed to measure hormone level. A woman may enter a menopausal phase earlier if she has a family history of early menopause, smoker, has a hysterectomy or has undergone cancer treatment.

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