Since perimenopause symptoms vary between individuals, there is no exact way of knowing it is ending until someone stops having periods. A period that is heavier or lighter than usual may be the last one, but it can be difficult to tell.

Perimenopause is the stage that precedes menopause. Doctors consider a person to be in the later stages of perimenopause when their periods are more than 60 days apart. When a person has not had a period for 1 year or more, they are in menopause.

The median length of time of perimenopause is 4 years, but this transition can last more than a decade, or in some cases, just a few months. This makes it difficult to predict when perimenopause will end.

Read on to learn some signs that perimenopause is ending.

An older woman sat at a table using a tablet.Share on Pinterest
BongkarnThanyakij/Getty Images

The only reliable sign that perimenopause is ending is infrequent periods. As a person approaches menopause, their periods will become further apart and eventually stop entirely.

Doctors consider a person to be nearing the end of perimenopause when their periods are more than 60 days apart. However, a person can stay in this phase for a while. Late perimenopause may last around 1–3 years.

When a person has not had a period for over 1 year, they are in menopause.

Changes in perimenopause symptoms may also take place. Because each person’s experience of perimenopause is different, these changes can vary significantly. For some people, these may not be noticeable, while for others, it will be clear that they are entering a new phase of the transition.

A person may experience:

  • more frequent hot flashes
  • a decrease in sexual desire
  • changes in sexual functioning
  • vaginal dryness

Anecdotally, people sometimes report additional changes, such as:

  • fewer headaches
  • more stable moods
  • a decrease in perimenopause symptoms or more predictable symptoms

These symptoms may change again once a person enters the postmenopause stage.

The last period before menopause may be different to usual, but this is not always the case. Occasionally, people have even reported having a typical menstrual cycle right up until menopause, so it is not always obvious that a person’s last period is their final one.

If changes do occur, a person may notice that their period:

  • is heavier or lighter than usual
  • is significantly further apart from their previous period
  • comes with different symptoms than usual

For most people, the menopausal transition follows specific stages:

  1. Reproductive: During this stage, a person is in their reproductive years and does not have menopause symptoms. Another name for this stage is premenopause.
  2. Menopausal transition: This is perimenopause, which marks the beginning of menopause. Early in this stage, periods become more irregular. Later in this stage, a person may go 60 or more days without a period. This later portion of the stage usually lasts 1–3 years.
  3. Postmenopause: This stage begins when periods have stopped completely for 1 year.

It is not always possible for a person to know which menopause stage they are in. One of the main changes a person may notice as perimenopause progresses is that their periods become less regular, but this can continue for years before periods stop.

A doctor can test a person’s hormone levels to determine what stage of menopause they are in. They can do this via a blood test to measure follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. This test is not always reliable, but it may provide some confirmation if a person also has symptoms.

A doctor may also suggest testing estradiol, which is a type of estrogen in the body, or antimullerian hormone, which can indicate how many eggs a person has in their ovaries.

Postmenopause experiences can vary. Many people find that their perimenopause symptoms dramatically decrease or disappear entirely. For example, they may notice they:

  • sleep better
  • have fewer hot flashes
  • have fewer psychological symptoms, such as anxiety or depression

However, menopause marks a permanent drop in estrogen that can change aspects of how the body functions. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • New or more hot flashes: Although some people find their hot flashes get better after menopause, for some, this is when they begin.
  • Vulvovaginal atrophy: Lower estrogen causes a shorter vagina and weakness in the vaginal walls. This can cause symptoms such as vaginal dryness.
  • Urinary symptoms: Changes around the vagina can also impact the urinary tract, which for some people causes incontinence.
  • Sexual dysfunction: Changing hormone levels and vaginal atrophy may impact sexual functioning. For example, it may make lubrication difficult or cause pain during sex.
  • Osteoporosis: Estrogen plays a role in bone health, and with lower levels, a person’s bones can be more likely to weaken or fracture.

Treatments are available for these symptoms, which can greatly improve a person’s quality of life and extend their health into postmenopause.

Learn more about hormone replacement and natural remedies for menopause symptoms.

A person should ask questions about their specific experiences and concerns. These include:

  • What stage of menopause am I in?
  • Am I in the early or late stage of perimenopause?
  • Which changes in my periods are typical, and which are not?
  • What treatments are available for my symptoms?
  • Is hormone replacement therapy a good idea for me?
  • Are there any diet or lifestyle changes that can help?

If a person has vaginal bleeding after menopause, they should always call a doctor.

Perimenopause may be ending if a person notices their periods are getting much further apart or if they have not had a period for months.

Other changes in symptoms may also take place, but they can vary from person to person. For example, some people have more frequent hot flashes when nearing menopause, while for others, hot flashes only begin after menopause.

Perimenopause often takes years, and each person’s experience is different. The process is not always linear. A person may go a long time without having a period and then get periods closer together for a while.

If a person wants to know more or they would like to receive hormone testing, they should speak with a doctor.