At What Ages Does Perimenopause Begin?
Menopause is generally defined as when a women has not had a menstrual cycle for twelve consecutive months. Once that time is reached, the subsequent years are referred to as the post-menopause years.
Peri-menopause then, is defined as the time prior to actual menopause. It is the time when women exhibit symptoms of their shifting hormonal landscape. Hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, irregular menstrual cycles, are all symptoms which indicate perimenopause.
However, there is often a lot of confusion surrounding the actual age at which a woman is considered to be in perimenopause. I’m not exactly certain why that is, but it is nonetheless very common for women who are in their 40s to be told they are too young to be in perimenopause.
The Medical Law of Averages
Thanks to all of the science and statistics involved in Western medicine, most health issues are defined and understood by averages. Risks for certain diseases and health conditions are all calculated and determined in an actuary type fashion, with a variety of variables (family history, age, gender, race, etc.,) influencing what those numbers are.
While these systems are helpful in defining what can sometimes be very nebulous ideas surrounding our physical bodies, these same systems can sometimes lock physicians into a boiler plate mentality, rendering them incapable of believing what their eyes and ears might be telling them. After all, if something does not fit into what is already defined, then it is easily dismissed.
Therefore, if a physician believes that menopause does not occur until sometime in a woman’s 50s and that the transition period is only about 2 years, then it is not difficult to understand how and why so many women are told they are not in perimenopause when they are in their 30s and early 40s.
But the reality is that many women begin to enter perimenopause not only in their early 40s, but also in their mid to late 30s as well. Though some women show absolutely no symptoms of perimenopause whatsoever until their late 40s and early 50s.
However, if we keep with the law of averages, the average age a woman enters perimenopause is sometime in her mid-40s. Barring some other physical illness which should be ruled out if at all possible, if you are in your mid to late 30s or even in your early 40s and you are exhibiting what you believe are symptoms of perimenopause, then you are very likely entering perimenopause.
Trust Your Instinct
The intuitive nature of women is powerful. Unfortunately, when faced with the facts of science and medicine, we tend to discount what we may actually know because it is not something that has “facts and figures” attached to it.
Do not underestimate your instincts and hunches regarding your health. If you suspect you might be entering perimenopause, trust yourself. No one is a better advocate or expert in matters pertaining to your personal health than you.
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women's health and a women's freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.