While you’re likely familiar with menopause, or the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle, you may be a little less clued into the years leading up to the next phase of life. Perimenopause is a transitional time that’s pretty wild in its own right, with hormonal changes similar to a roller coaster and major changes to your cycle. Balanced hormones are, of course, key to successfully becoming pregnant and it’s certainly reasonable to wonder whether, given sweeping hormonal fluctuations, it’s possible to get pregnant during perimenopause. The short answer is oh yes.
- Perimenopause is a transitional period before menopause during which estrogen levels drop, wreaking havoc on a woman’s cycle.
- Common symptoms include irregular and skipped periods, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood changes, insomnia, and others.
- Despite irregular periods, it is still possible to become pregnant during perimenopause.
- To boost your chances of pregnancy during perimenopause, protect your ovarian health with smart lifestyle choices, including mindful nutrition and the right supplements.
Let’s Talk About Perimenopause
During perimenopause, a woman’s body is essentially gearing up to shut down the ol’ baby factory. The timeline is unique to everyone. Some women begin noticing symptoms of perimenopause in their late 40s or early 50s, but many others will experience them in their early to mid 40s (1). Usually, this process kicks off eight to ten years before menopause itself, but the average length of perimenopause is around four years.
So, how do you know you’re in it? Mostly, by being familiar enough with your period to be able to identify any changes. Most of the changes to your period can be chalked up to declining estrogen levels. As estrogen drops, it messes with the balance of progesterone, affecting both ovulation and menstruation. It’s not a steady drop, either. Both hormones swing up and down during perimenopause, which means the only real certainty is uncertainty. It makes sense! After all, your body has been steadily producing estrogen since puberty, and your body needs some time to adjust to the change. Quick note here that to truly confirm hormonal changes, you’ll need to see your doctor for a blood test.
While symptoms can vary, here’s what you can generally look for during this doozy of a life stage:
- Irregular periods
- Skipped periods
- A flow that’s heavier or lighter than usual
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood changes, including irritability and depression
Yes, you’re correct that these symptoms sound eerily similar to what goes down after menopause. Consider it a warm up for the main event! And fun fact: just because you’re experiencing the symptoms above does not necessarily mean you’re perimenopausal, either. To confirm that, you’ll want to visit the doctor and talk it out.
So… Can You Get Pregnant During Perimenopause?
Absolutely yes. If you’re getting a period, even if it’s irregular, you’re still ovulating. And if you’re still ovulating and having sex, you most definitely can get pregnant. Until you haven’t had a period for 12 months (in a row!), pregnancy is still on the table.
Of course, it’s a little trickier than it would be if you were in your 20s or early 30s. It’s harder to predict when you’re ovulating if your cycle is all over the place, which is one hurdle. Another is the fact that you may just be less interested in sex, especially if you’re dealing with dryness downstairs. A reduced libido can be another symptom, and again, you can blame declining estrogen levels. Fewer viable eggs is also a reality. That means time really is working against you if you’re actively trying to get pregnant. Fortunately, you do have some options.
Experts recommend working with a fertility specialist and being super proactive about supporting your fertility health. Since your health as a whole can be a good litmus test for the state of your fertility health, smart habits go a long way. Here’s what to prioritize with an eye to supporting your ovarian health:
- No smoking. If you have even a casual smoking habit, now is the time to stop. Research is clear that smoking disrupts normal ovarian function and introduces toxic substances that do serious damage to your eggs (2). Be very clear that smoking is an egg killer.
- Curb alcohol. There is evidence that any amount of alcohol (measured as up to seven drinks per week) is a significant predictor of infertility in women over age 30 (3).
- Get regular exercise. Maintaining a healthy weight with regular exercise can help stabilize ovulation cycles.
- Eat a nutrient-dense diet. Optimal nutrition really can improve egg quality, particularly when focusing on five specific nutrients: vitamins B6 and B12, folate, vitamin E and vitamin K2 (4). Plus, protein is always a priority, especially for women and especially when they’re experiencing hormonal fluctuations. A great collagen protein, like Beli’s Collagen Protein Boost, is a simple way to up your daily protein intake and enjoy all those skin-boosting benefits.
- Supplement wisely. An easy way to get your daily dose of all those nutrients mentioned directly above? A clean prenatal vitamin! Beli for Women is a science-aligned formula designed to support and promote your fertility health with the most bioavailable nutrients in the right dose. That’s particularly important if you’re trying for a baby during perimenopause. And get this—even if the plan isn’t a baby, the same vitamins and minerals that support you during pregnancy can help during this stage of life, too. Balancing hormones is key for your fertility, baby or no, and Beli is a great source of the nutrients shown to do just that. Vitamin D, vitamin E and calcium may also help improve symptoms of perimenopause specifically, which is a nice bonus.
The Bottom Line
You can’t pause perimenopause, but if a baby is the plan, it is possible to get pregnant during this transitional phase. It’s smart to speak with a fertility specialist, pay close attention to your cycle, and take advantage of all the things that are in your control. Embracing healthy habits to support your ovarian health can make a big difference.
- Perimenopause. (2021). https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21608-perimenopause
- Voorhis B et al. (1996). The effects of smoking on ovarian function and fertility during assisted reproduction cycles. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8885914/
- Angelis C et al. (2020). Smoke, alcohol and drug addiction and female fertility. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7069005/
- Silvestris E et al. (2019). Nutrition and Female Fertility: An Interdependent Correlation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6568019/