Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Menopause Health Center

Font Size

Easing into Menopause

WebMD Health News

Aug. 30, 2000 -- They are just a bit over age 40, seemingly too young for "the change." But their sleep is fitful. They sometimes wake up in the middle of the night drenched with sweat. During the day, they feel irritable and depressed. And yes, the monthly cycle isn't as predictable as it once was. It's as unnerving as the hormonal changes of adolescence.

Cindy is a classic case. "I was having a period every two weeks," she tells WebMD from her home in Urbana, Ill. "It was like having PMS constantly."

When she found herself crying in a parking lot one day for no apparent reason, she knew something had to be done. "I thought, 'This is nuts.' I'm a pretty sane person, and I just didn't want to put up with this any more." Soon, Cindy began taking low-dose birth control pills, just to keep things regular -- which, finally, they did.

Like many women, she says, "I had no idea anything could be done about it," before she discussed the problem with her doctor.

She's in the midst of what doctors call perimenopause, the decade or so that is a woman's natural period of transition into menopause. As estrogen levels fluctuate dramatically, menstrual periods can become shorter, lighter, and unpredictable. Hot flashes or "flushes" -- the signature of this era -- may come and go. For some women, this transition takes place gradually over a decade. For others, it lasts just a few years. When her period has stopped for a full year, a woman knows she is in menopause.

The study of perimenopause "is a science in its embryonic phases," Cynthia Stuenkel, MD, a gynecologist at the University of California in San Diego, tells WebMD. "We really are struggling to define what's happening, how to measure it, how to get any sense of how long it might last."

"It may be that how you go through your perimenopausal years determines your health for the rest of your life," Nanette Santoro, MD, director of reproductive endocrinology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y., tells WebMD. "This transition has simply not been looked at."

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Today on WebMD

woman walking outdoors
How to handle headaches, night sweats, and more.
mature woman holding fan in face
Symptoms and treatments.
woman hiding face behind hands
11 ways to keep skin bright and healthy.
Is it menopause or something else?
senior couple
mature woman shopping for produce
Alcohol Disrupting Your Sleep
mature couple on boat
mature woman tugging on her loose skin
senior woman wearing green hat
estrogen gene

WebMD Special Sections