Perimenopause & Premature Menopause FAQs

Do you have questions about menopause or perimenopause? Learn more about early menopause symptoms and get the information you need to know about menopause and perimenopause from the NAMS menopause experts who answer the questions below.

What is perimenopause?

The gradual transition between the reproductive years and menopause (the cessation of menstrual periods) is called perimenopause (literally meaning “around menopause”). It is generally a transition that is many years long and can be associated with shorter menstrual intervals, irregular menses, night sweats, and other symptoms. In some women, these symptoms are troublesome enough to need medical intervention. 

What is early or premature menopause?

Menopause, whether natural or induced, is called premature when it happens at age 40 or younger. This occurs in about 1% of women in the United States. Premature menopause that is not induced can be genetic, metabolic, autoimmune, or the result of other poorly understood conditions. Premature menopause should be evaluated thoroughly.

I'm facing a hysterectomy with removal of my ovaries, so I'm going to have an induced menopause. Is it any different from natural menopause?

Menopause symptoms related to induced menopause can be similar to those from natural menopause, including hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and vaginal dryness. But premenopausal women who experience induced menopause can have more intense symptoms and, therefore, a greater need for treatment to control them than women who undergo natural menopause. And because you may be going through menopause at a young age, you need ongoing monitoring and sometimes treatment to lower your risk of menopause associated diseases, such as osteoporosis, later in life.

I’m only 36 years old and I’ve prematurely reached menopause. What specific menopause information do I need?

Women experiencing premature menopause (age 40 or younger) that is not medically induced go through perimenopause and may have the same symptoms as women with natural menopause, including hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and vaginal dryness. However, compared to women who reach menopause at the typical age, women who experience premature menopause—whether natural or induced—spend more years without the benefits of estrogen and are at greater risk for some health problems later in life, such as osteoporosis and heart disease. 
You may need a complete evaluation to diagnose the reason for your menopause -- it could be an underlying condition that needs treatment. 

Related content

Menopause Terminology
5 Things To Know About Early Menopause
Hot flashes: Diagnosis & treatment