Women enter menopause at different times. The average age is 51, but anywhere between 45-55 is considered normal. Irregular periods are common throughout our lives, so it may not be something you pay attention to, unless you’re trying to get pregnant. If you’re absolutely not pregnant, then skipping periods can be common during perimenopause as you start to transition to menopause. Menopause is when your menstrual periods stop completely. Menopause is confirmed after 12 months of no periods.
During perimenopause hormone levels (again with the estrogen and progesterone) fluctuate in an irregular pattern. You may bleed heavier or lighter. Your cycle may be shorter or longer in number of days. You may spot bleed. You may skip periods. The amount of time between periods may change too. Keeping track of changes in your menstrual cycle will help you and your healthcare provider determine if your perimenopausal and when you’ve entered menopause.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), any bleeding after menopause is abnormal and should be reported to your healthcare professional. Although the menstrual period may become irregular during perimenopause, you should be alert for abnormal bleeding, which can signal a problem not related to perimenopause. Tell your healthcare provider if you notice any of the following changes in your monthly cycle:
- Very heavy bleeding
- Bleeding that lasts longer than normal
- Bleeding that occurs more often than every 3 weeks
- Bleeding that occurs after sex or between periods