What does Peri-menopause mean? "Peri" means "perimeter" which is the area around a fence. Well, peri-menopause means the time around menopause! Menopause is defined as having no menstrual periods for one year. The average age of menopause is 51. So, most healthcare providers consider anyone in the 40s or 50s to be peri-menopausal.

Usually women will start having some symptoms during this part of our transition. The most common symptom is periods becoming irregular. Some women start having hot flashes or night sweats. The hot flashes are like a 'power surge'...your neck and face tend to get red and you get hot. Night sweats actually awaken some women and they have to get up to change the sheets! This is definitely a signal to call your healthcare provider! Some women notice that their vagina is dry making intercourse uncomfortable. Some of us (ahem, including your's truly) notice a bit of change in our moods which are not entirely predictable.

What's up with saliva tests?

There is a current 'fad' about getting saliva hormone tests which some women believe can tell them 'where they are in peri-menopause' or when they will become menopausal. This is simply not true. Before menopause your hormones change literally every day. One test, be it saliva or blood, can only tell you what your hormones are on that particular moment of that particular day! I tell my patients that I can learn more about their hormones by what they tell me about their symptoms than by a test. You are the most valuable source of information about what your body is doing hormonally. Therefore communication with your healthcare provider is the key to a good evaluation.


Copyright ©1995-2004 Karen Lee, A.R.N.P.,
Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner
Certified Menopause Practitioner