menstrual cycle changes in 40s

Photo: Rawpixel/istockphoto

3 of 5
Your Monthly Cycle Goes Rogue

What you know: Eventually, you stop ovulating altogether, and your periods are done.

What might surprise you: "It would be nice if the ovaries gradually made less estrogen, but it's a very unpredictable pattern," says Jan Shifren, MD, the director of the Massachusetts General Hospital's Midlife Women's Health Center. They can pump out wildly different amounts of estrogen each month once perimenopause hits, which means cycles can be closer together (say, every 25 or 26 days instead of 28) or much farther apart; you could have extremely heavy ones now and again, and there will probably be months where you unexpectedly skip your period altogether. Like we said, chaos.

What you can do about it: If the irregularity is bothering you, ask your doctor about options that can help regulate it, like oral contraceptives or hormone-releasing IUDS.