What is the difference between perimenopause and menopause? Perimenopause refers to the years leading up to menopause, and menopause is the time from 1 year after your last menstrual period onward. The symptoms experienced in each are different. The symptoms listed here are ‘textbook’ – but the real life experiences of individuals vary a lot. 

Early perimenopause 

  • New heavy and/or longer menstrual flow
  • Shorter menstrual cycles (less than or equal to 25 days), New sore, swollen, and/or lumpy breasts
  • New or increased menstrual cramps
  • New mid-sleep wakening
  • Night sweats premenstrually 
  • New or increased migraine headaches
  • New or increased PMS
  • Notable weight gain without changes in exercise or food intake

Late perimenopause to menopause 

Estrogen drops

  • Irregular cycles varying by 7 or more days, then long periods between bleeding, then cessation of periods
  • Hot flashes and night sweats 
  • Change in libido
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Mood swings 
  • Insomnia