There are several stages a woman goes through in her life, starting with puberty to going through your menstrual cycle during your childbearing years, to entering a transition to menopause called perimenopause, to menopause. 

But what is the difference between perimenopause and menopause? Here are some ways to tell which one you might be experiencing.


First, let’s talk about perimenopause, which is a transitional phase between your childbearing years, and full menopause. Perimenopause can happen a few years before you go into menopause, sometimes as early as your 30s or 40s. During perimenopause, you will notice changes in your body and monthly cycle, but might still be releasing eggs and menstruating. Your ovaries start to produce less estrogen during these years, and it is a good indication that menopause is on its way.


Whether or not you went through perimenopause, the next phase is menopause. All women go through this once they no longer have their menstrual cycle. This is when you no longer release eggs, and therefore don’t have menstrual cycles. At this point, you are no longer able to get pregnant, so it ends your reproductive years. 

Menopause can sometimes come on rather suddenly without the years of perimenopause beforehand, though for many women, they notice the symptoms appearing gradually.

Symptoms of Perimenopause and Menopause

Now, let’s look at the main differences – which include the types of symptoms you might experience with each. 

Symptoms of Perimenopause

With perimenopause and menopause, hot flashes tend to be among the first symptoms. However, with perimenopause, you might also notice that your PMS begins to get worse. This can cause more irritability, more cramping, and more breast tenderness. 

You might also notice changes like a lower sex drive, vaginal dryness, and sometimes urine leakage.

Symptoms of Menopause

When you reach menopause, the hot flashes and night sweats tend to worsen and last longer than during perimenopause. You have more vaginal dryness and less interest in sex, and may feel like you need to empty your bladder more often. You will also notice that you no longer get your period, though may have some spotting still. Other symptoms include difficulty concentrating, weight gain, hair thinning, headaches, and aches and pain.

As with anything, the symptoms you experience for perimenopause or menopause might vary. Even if your mom had bad hot flashes, yours may be mild, but you might have some of the other symptoms.

Interested in managing menopause symptoms through yoga and holistic practices? Or do you work with women at this life stage? You may be interested in our Embracing the Crone, 50-Hour Yoga Teacher Training which is part of the EMPOWER 300-Hour YTT Programme. Click here for more details.

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