# No 4 Irregular Periods
Periods usually begin when you are around 12, and you will have around 450 during your lifetime - fun, fun, fun!!
You can usually predict when your period is going to show up.......... until perimenopause comes on the scene. At around, lets say, early 40s (for sake of argument) you experience hormone shifts and then nothing is straightforward.
Perimenopause, which occurs over a number of years, can be separated into two phases - early and late (funnily enough!)
Early Phase - Your menstural periods will go one of two ways - at first you may experience a lengthening of your cycle - up to seven days or more. Sometimes you may even miss the occasional period. On the other hand you may notice that you have a shorter cycle, with periods arriving a bit earlier each time, the chances are they will be heavier too.
It may come as a surprise that your periods are particulary heavy - whilst this is totally normal, if you experience excessive bleeding whereby you can hardly leave the house, it may be wise to consult your GP, just to make sure there is no underlying problem.
Late Phase - Later on, more periods will be missed - sometimes two months between one and the next. It is thought that once you miss two in a row, in around four years you will have your very last menstrual period.
What can help?
Depending on your symptoms and medical history, the following may be suitable treatment and management options you can discuss with your GP:
combined oral contraceptive pill
menopausal hormone therapy,
Mirena® – progestin-releasing intra-uterine device (IUD) for heavy bleeding
natural therapies (see an accredited naturopath).
Contraception can still be important if you are sexually active, as an egg is still released in around one in three cycles during perimenopause, and sometimes twice in a cycle, so this is important to discuss with your doctor if you are not intending to become pregnant.
If you have not had a period for 12 months you are then considered to be in menopause, as this is defined as your final menstrual period, bringing to an end your productive years and bringing with it a whole new freedom from santitary towels and contraception! (Technically 'menopause' is only the day 12 months from your last period as after that you are in Post-menopause!)
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(Note: Cycles can also become shorter for other reasons, so don’t assume you’re entering early menopause if your cycle becomes slightly shorter in your 30s. Average cycle length decreases with age, from about 29 days for people in their 20s, to 26 days for those in their 40s. Cycles can also become shorter due to a shortening of the luteal phase, caused by any factor leading to a decrease in the ovary’s production of progesterone after ovulation.)
During perimenopause, less estrogen is produced. But before perimenopause, estrogen levels can actually rise for a while, and progesterone levels typically decrease. This is what shortens the follicular phase, and may also cause other changes, symptoms, or sensations. You may notice changes to the heaviness of your period during this time. Lower progesterone—with or without higher estrogen—may also lead to heavier periods, which is more common in early perimenopause .*