What are menopause and perimenopause?
Usually beginning in the mid-40s, women enter a phase called perimenopause. During this phase, hormone levels and the menstrual cycle begin to change. Perimenopause may last from ages 45 to 55, although the timing varies from person to person. During this time, the ovaries get smaller and make less estrogen. The body goes through other changes as well.
Because these changes happen slowly over time, women may not be aware of them at first. Menopause is defined as the absence of menstrual periods for 1 year. In the United States, the average age of the last menstrual period is 51.
What is a normal menstrual cycle?
The length of the menstrual cycle is typically between 24 and 38 days. A normal period generally lasts up to 8 days. During your reproductive years, your periods may be regular. Your bleeding may be the same from month to month. With perimenopause, things change.