Taking care of your reproductive health

Your hormones may start to fluctuate in your mid to late 30’s. This time is called perimenopause and it is different for every woman. The best indicator of when you will start this hormonal change is genetically linked to when your mother started going through her body changes. Staying healthy by keeping a normal Body Mass Index (BMI) and exercising regularly, along with self-care and positive thinking, will help you through this change. It’s nothing bad or something to fear; rather, it is a normal process that you can take with all the grace and dedication that has already brought you so far in life.

What is perimenopause?

Perimenopause covers the time leading up to menopause when you start to notice menopause-related changes as well as the year after menopause occurs. Perimenopause is what some people call “being in menopause” or “going through menopause.” But menopause itself is only one day—the day you haven’t had a period for 12 months in a row. During perimenopause, your ovaries start to shut down, making less of certain hormones (estrogen and progesterone), and you begin to lose the ability to become pregnant. This change is a natural part of aging and signals that your reproductive years are drawing to an end.

When does perimenopause start?

Women normally go through perimenopause between ages 45 and 55, but some women start perimenopause as early as their 30’s. When perimenopause starts and how long it lasts varies from woman to woman. You will likely notice menopause-related symptoms such as changes in periods.

Can I get pregnant while in perimenopause?

Yes, you can get pregnant until you’ve gone 12 months in a row without a period. Talk to your health care provider about your birth control options. Keep in mind that birth control pills, shots, implants or diaphragms will not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or HIV. If you use one of these methods, be sure to also use a latex condom or dental dam (used for oral sex) correctly every time you have sexual contact. Be aware that condoms don’t provide complete protection against STDs and HIV—the only sure protection is abstinence (not having sex of any kind). But by making sure to always—and correctly—use latex condoms and other barrier methods, you can help prevent STDs.

Content courtesy of The National Women’s Health Information Center. Additional information can be found at http://womenshealth.gov/menopause/basics/#b.

Revised: June 7, 2011

This web site is designed for informational use only; it is not designed to give advice, diagnose, cure or treat any medical condition you may have. If you have any questions about your health, please contact your health care provider.