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What is the difference between perimenopause and menopause?

Our Women’s Health Lead and Menopause doctor, Dr Verity Biggs, explains the differences between perimenopause and menopause, and some of the symptoms to look out for.

Dr Verity Biggs
Dr Verity BiggsWomen's Health and Menopause Lead

Dr Verity Biggs is a Women’s health specialist and our female health lead.

You can find out more about Dr Biggs by viewing her latest articles and biography .

What is perimenopause?

Before we discuss the difference between perimenopause and menopause, we should explain what we mean by perimenopause.

Perimenopause is the time leading up to when your periods stop.  Your periods may become heavier and last longer, or for some, they might become lighter.  They might not arrive each month when you would normally expect them, often skipping a few months.

During any of these stages though, you might experience hot flushes, night sweats, brain fog, anxiety, aches and pains, hair; skin and nail changes, urinary frequency, vaginal dryness, low libido, and the list goes on.

Symptoms can start and continue for several years before your periods stop, and for several years after.

And so the difference between perimenopause and menopause is?

In terms of symptoms, there is very little difference between the two.  The main difference is whether or not you are still having periods.  Once you have had 12 months or more without a period, this is classed as menopause.  The time after this is post-menopause.  Menopause simply means menstruation has stopped.

Would you like to speak to a specialist?

If you’d like to speak to a specialist about your symptoms or any other aspect of menopause then book an appointment now with our menopause team, led by Dr Verity Biggs, here. Our consultations can be face to face or online, whichever’s more convenient for you.