Hot flashes? Hair falling out? Erratic sleep patterns?

No, you’re not going crazy. You’re likely in perimenopause.

Wait? What?

What’s the difference between perimenopause and menopause?

Perimenopause refers to the years (up to a full decade!) before menopause. Menopause is the phase of life that begins when a woman has gone a full year without a period.

So most of those unpleasant symptoms we associate with menopause are actually part of perimenopause.

Potato, potahto….isn’t it just semantics?

Sort of.┬áBut in an effort to better educate women about their bodies, how they work, and what is and is not normal, let’s start by using proper terminology.

Perimenopause, the years of declining fertility leading up to the cessation of menstruation, is often described as a hormonal rollercoaster.

And while so many mothers strive to send their adolescent daughters fully informed into puberty, there’s a dearth of information for women in perimenopause.

Want to know how much of a taboo perimenopause is? Every time I type perimenopause my computer underlines it with that red squiggly line because it’s not recognized as a word.


(Note, however, that “squiggly” is a word recognized by our computer overlords.)

Alas, I digress. (Hey, that’s another common experience of women in perimenopause: memory fog or forgetting where you’re going with a story.)

What I have learned in working with women for the last ten years is that even the most highly educated among us don’t really understand the difference between perimenopause and menopause. Furthermore, not many of us know how long it’s going to last, what the belly of the beast is going to look and feel like, and how to assess when our symptoms are not within the expected range.

And very few women realize there is a new normal of hormonal balance on the other side.

If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired– or just ready to be better informed about your body– stick around. In upcoming posts here at Running on Balance, I will illuminate the role of exercise vis-a-vis bone health, heart health, and sleep during perimenopause.

And if you’re already convinced you want– no, NEED– more information about what is normal and what is not during perimenopause, I have good news. I am launching an online course to guide you through the hormonal changes and their effects on your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Fill out the form below to make sure you get all the details when the course launches in September! (No obligation!)

What's the difference between menopause and perimenopause