Difference Between Perimenopause and Menopause (With Table)

The reproductive life of a woman begins to culminate when she enters her forties or fifties. The entire spectrum of the process is normal as a woman comes to age and there’s usually nothing to worry about.

However, there are quite a few symptoms that are found to be common before and after the period of culmination. The entire process of termination is divided into three stages – perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause.

Perimenopause vs Menopause

The difference between perimenopause and menopause is that perimenopause occurs in women before the beginning of their menopausal stage while menopause is what follows the perimenopausal stage. While perimenopausal symptoms in a woman begin to surface by the age of 40, menopausal symptoms only occur between the age of 45-50.

Perimenopause refers to the stage that occurs before the beginning of menopause. This generally happens when a woman enters her 40s. However, some women may find perimenopausal symptoms surfacing as early as when they are 30. The term perimenopause can be translated to ‘around menopause’ and can also be referred to as ‘menopausal transition’.

Menopause is a natural biological process that occurs in women between the age of 45-50. In the United States, most women experience this when they reach the age of 51! However, for all women, menopause marks the end of their reproductive life. The menopausal stage begins 12 months after a woman has stopped menstruating.

Comparison Table Between Perimenopause and Menopause

Parameters of ComparisonPerimenopauseMenopause
MeaningPerimenopause is the period that a woman goes through before the beginning of the menopausal stage.Menopause refers to the stage of a woman’s life when she stops menstruating.
OccurrenceThis stage occurs before the menopausal stage.This stage follows the perimenopausal stage.
SymptomsSome symptoms include Irregular periods, weight gain, tenderness of breasts, loss of sex drive, etc.Some symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, depression, night sweats, dry skin, fatigue, etc.
AgePerimenopause occurs between the ages of 30 and 40.Menopause occurs when a woman enters her 40s or 50s.
Estrogen ProductionThere is a decrease in the production of estrogen in the ovaries.The production of estrogen in the ovaries comes to an end.
Menstrual CycleA woman may or may not have regular menstrual periods during perimenopause.A woman no longer experiences menstrual periods at the stage of menopause.
FertilityA woman may come across fertility problems in this stage.As the production of eggs terminates completely, a woman becomes infertile when she experiences menopause.

What is Perimenopause?

Perimenopause is the stage in a woman’s reproductive life when she transitions into the stage of menopause. On account of this, perimenopause is also termed menopausal transition. This period occurs years before the menopause period. Generally, a woman is in her 30s or 40s when she experiences this.

During perimenopause, the ovaries in a woman reduce the production of oestrogen over time. The average time when a woman experiences this is 4 years. However, some women may even have it for a few months, or even 10 years. When a woman does not get her menstrual period for a total of 12 months, the stage of perimenopause ends.

Some common symptoms that women experience during perimenopause include hot flashes, low sex drive, breast tenderness, fatigue, irregular periods, worsened premenstrual syndrome, vaginal dryness, urine leakage, urinary urgency, mood swings, trouble sleeping, etc. Some women may even experience heavy periods or spotting after sex.

Women should get themselves checked by a medical professional whenever they experience these symptoms. A doctor diagnoses a woman with perimenopause based on these symptoms only. A blood test to check the hormone levels may also prove to be useful. Interestingly, a woman can get pregnant even while she experiences perimenopause.

What is Menopause?

Menopause is the stage in a woman’s reproductive life when she does not experience her menstrual cycles for 12 months. This occurs when a woman enters her 40s or 50s. As a matter of fact, the average age for a woman to experience menopause is 51 in the United States. The process is natural and biological.

Menopause brings several symptoms along with it. Some of the most common ones include vaginal dryness, night sweats, hot flashes, chills, sleep problems, mood swings, slowed metabolism, increased weight, hair thinning, dry skin, decrease in breast size, etc. On coming across any of these symptoms, it is advisable to visit a medical professional at the earliest.

There are many causes other than the age factor due to which menopause occurs in women. For example, chemotherapy and radiation can induce menopause and cause dire symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats.

Another example is primary ovarian insufficiency. This is when the ovaries fail to produce a natural number of reproductive hormones. It affects about 1% of women and causes them to experience menopause before the age of 40. This is also called premature menopause. For women who experience this, hormonal therapy is recommended.

Main Differences Between Perimenopause and Menopause

  1. Perimenopause refers to the period that occurs before the beginning of menopause.
  2. Perimenopause is followed by the menopausal period.
  3. Perimenopause occurs when a woman is in her 30s or 40s while menopause occurs when a woman enters her 40s or 50s.
  4. A woman has irregular periods during perimenopause while her menstrual cycle stops completely during menopause.
  5. Perimenopause causes fertility problems in women while menopause causes infertility.

Conclusion

Perimenopause and menopause are natural and biological processes that occur in a woman’s reproductive life when she comes of age. While perimenopause occurs when a woman enters her 30s or 40s, menopause only occurs when a woman enters her 40s or 50s.

Both the terms are confusing for people to understand. However, a simple difference between the two is that perimenopause is what a woman experiences before menopause. During perimenopause, women have irregular periods and reduced fertility. On the other hand, during menopause, women no longer experience menstrual periods and become infertile.

If women experience any of the symptoms of perimenopause or menopause, it is advisable to visit a medical professional at the earliest.

References

  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.5172/conu.2011.37.2.229
  2. https://www.obgyn.theclinics.com/article/S0889-8545(18)30071-8/abstract
x
2D vs 3D