GYN Doctor serving patients in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk & Portsmouth

A Gynecology Specialists note: Following is an excellent article by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Since 2004, our GYN doctors have provided women with comprehensive Gyn care for Menopause, Perimenopause, irregular periods, hormone problems, hot flashes, sleep problems, vaginal dryness, mood changes and more in Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and throughout Hampton Roads. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact our GYN Clinic at (757) 312-8221.


My Periods Have Changed. Is Menopause Around the Corner?

Perimenopause explained.

December 2020

It’s a common scene in any Gyn clinic: A patient comes in, concerned that her periods have changed. “What’s going on?” she asks. “Is this menopause?”

If you’re a woman in your 40s, a change in your menstrual periods is the hallmark of perimenopause – that’s what Gyn doctors call the years leading up to your last menstrual period.

Here’s a look at how Gyn doctors diagnose perimenopause and menopause, and what else to expect as you enter this phase of life.

A new normal

A “change” can mean a lot of things when it comes to your menstrual period. It could be a change in the length of your cycle. It could mean your period is coming more often or less often. The flow could be heavier or lighter than you’re used to. You also could have some bleeding or spotting between periods.

No matter the symptoms, women can usually recognize what’s normal for them – and when that stops being the norm. Your Gyn doctor is there to help you figure out what’s going on.

Other explanations

Perimenopause is what Gyn doctors call a diagnosis of exclusion. This means they first need to rule out other conditions that could be causing your abnormal bleeding. Other causes can include:

• Hormone problems, such as a thyroid disorder or hyperprolactinemia (high levels of the hormone prolactin)

• Problems with the uterus, such as polyps, fibroids, or adenomyosis (a problem with the lining of the uterus)

• Infection

Gyn doctors use a combination of pelvic exams, blood tests, and ultrasounds to guide this framework. If nothing is wrong, then perimenopause is the likely explanation of irregular periods, especially for a woman in her 40s.

The course of perimenopause

A change in your periods is often the first sign of perimenopause, but there are other signs to look out for. The most common are hot flashes, sleep problems, vaginal dryness, mood changes, and a decrease in sex drive. Not every woman will experience all of these symptoms. For those who have symptoms, they may come in any order.

Once these symptoms arrive, most women can expect menopause itself to be a few years away. (Menopause is officially confirmed after you go 12 months without a menstrual period. But the average age for the last period is 51.)

There are many treatments to help with bothersome symptoms like hot flashes and sleeplessness. Even a few years of hormone therapy can help you get through the worst of it.

If you are prone to anxiety or depression, know that perimenopause can bring those conditions back to the surface. Finding a support network can make a big difference. Antidepressants also may be an option.

Part of the reproductive journey

Gyn doctors usually diagnose menopause in hindsight, after that full year of absent periods. However, many Gyn doctors find that most women know they’ve reached menopause when they get there.

Even if your irregular periods turn out to be something else, you’ll face menopause eventually. Talk with your Gyn doctor about what you’re experiencing. Together you can work through this part of your health journey.

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If you have any questions about your health or hormone therapy, please contact our GYN Clinic at (757) 312-8221 or by clicking here. 

About our GYN doctors
and clinic
Our all-female practice covers a wide spectrum of gyn and health issues. Since 2004 our GYN doctors have been caring for women and teens in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth.  Our services include hormone therapy to help women with menopause, perimenopause, irregular periods, menstrual periods, hormone problems, hot flashes, sleep problems, vaginal dryness, mood changes and more.