Q: How long can perimenopause go on?

Perimenopause, also called menopause transition, starts with variation in menstrual cycle length. Cycles can go from every 28 to 30 days to every 21 to 24 days—or 21-40 days. Cycles that are closer, further apart, longer, shorter, heavier, or lighter are all considered normal for perimenopause. Rarely, women go from having regular periods to having none, skipping the "transition." 98 percent of women experience a natural menopause—one year without menstruating—between ages 40 to 58. I have seen one or two women at age 60 still menstruating—but somebody has to be that 1 to 2 percent! We really are unable to predict the age of menopause for any given woman. Again, for most women the symptoms of perimenopause last for four to eight years, but, again, there are a few stragglers who have them longer than most. Any bleeding after menopause deserves investigation and evaluation, so it is important to differentiate post-menopausal bleeding from a few lingering periods. I sense from the question that you're ready for a "change"! Hang in there. It's coming.

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