You’ve had your period for years. Whether yours is regular or not, it’s familiar. But with age comes change, and the period you once knew will adjust and evolve with your body. This could be due to hormonal changes, pregnancy or perimenopause, but every body is unique, making everyone’s experience different. So, what can you expect from your period in your 40s?
Perimenopause begins in your 30s or 40s, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The amount of estrogen ovaries produce begins to fluctuate, and that can cause changes in the menstrual cycle and abnormal bleeding. Periods may be shorter or longer, heavier or lighter, and you may even find yourself skipping periods.
“As women approach menopause, they may notice their periods spacing out,” said Dr. Tamara Kolev, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “They may notice night sweats and mood changes. Some women do complain of weight gain. That is not to say all women experience this and, of course, it is experienced differently by different women.”
Kristine Luedtke Casko, 43, said that while she hasn’t noticed a dramatic change, she has been experiencing much lighter, shorter periods. She’s also noticed that symptoms she once experienced alongside her period, like sensitive breasts, have not been happening.
“I’m still in my early 40s, and without having kids I don’t feel like I’ve had as much change as others,” she said. “I eat healthy for the most part and I do a lot of supplements — ones that help regulate my blood sugar and help a lot with female issues that other people have as well, but I will also say I’ve never been regular.”
For Casko, “it is more regular to be irregular” when it comes to menstruation, she said.
Not everyone experiences perimenopause in the same way. Some people may experience it for a couple years; others may not have much of a perimenopausal state at all, according to Kolev.
Common signs and symptoms of perimenopause include hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, more frequent urination, UTIs, vaginal dryness and vaginal infections, according to ACOG.
“Women’s periods may remain the same until they approach 40. Your period may get lighter as you get closer to menopause or become more spaced out,” Kolev said. “If yours becomes heavier or more frequent, you should see your gynecologist”
Kolev said the average age for menopause is 52, but some people experience changes earlier or later on in life. The absence of a period for a year is what defines menopause, and perimenopause is your body’s way of transitioning and reacting to fluctuating hormone levels.
The most important thing to remember is that no one knows your body better than you do, and if you find yourself experiencing dramatic changes when it comes to your period or your body in general, make an appointment with your doctor to find out more.
This post is sponsored by Stayfree.