If you’re reading this I suspect you’re searching for information on the hormonal changes of menopause. It’s a sad fact that many of us are starved of good information and knowledge. So, let us enlighten you. 😀
Many women believe that the age of 40-45 is too early for menopause. In a lot of cases this is true, but it’s the peri part of the equation that comes into play here. Early to mid-40s is the time when perimenopause begins*.
Once we hit this age (and in some cases our late 30s) many women can begin to experience the hormonal changes of perimenopause.
🔆 One caveat here is that many of the signs can also be precursors to pregnancy so please rule that out first.
Peri Moves Slowly
Unfortunately, a lot of women don’t have a clue that 1. change is happening and 2. its perimenopause.
What Is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause is the first stage of menopause. It occurs during the lead up to menopause (which is the cessation of fertility and periods) and can last six to 13 years.
During this period of time hormones such as estrogen and progesterone may fluctuate wildly contributing to the signs of peri.
Changes To Your Periods
Typically our menstrual cycles change during peri; becoming irregular, shorter or longer, or heavier or lighter.
The 34 Most Common Signs Of Perimenopause:
The hormones and the immune system are closely related so it’s not uncommon to experience an increase in allergies.
Anxiety is a feeling of constant worry and concern out of all proportion to normal feelings of everyday life.
Perimenopausal women often experience an increase in bloating. It can feel similar to PMS, that distended tummy and often (sorry) an increased incidence of burping or farting.
4. Breast tenderness
Many of us have experienced the feeling of tender breasts during menstruation and/or pregnancy. It’s also a common sign of perimenopause as is an increase in breast size.
5. Body odour changes
This one’s often a surprise but decreasing estrogen levels can alter the pH level of the vagina.
6. Brain Fog
Difficulty concentrating, memory lapses (where have I put my keys?) and mental blocks are all part of what is – quite literally – a feeling as if your brain is foggy.
7. Burning mouth syndrome
Some perimenopausal women experience a sensation of ‘burning’ on the tongue, roof of the mouth or inside the lip area.
Feelings of sadness and hopelessness often accompany fluctuating hormones.
9. Digestive issues
As we mentioned under bloating, signs of gas along with cramping, and sometimes nausea can go hand in hand with peri.
Perimenopausal women can experience loss of balance, vertigo, a feeling of spinning and/or dizzy spells.
11. Electric shock sensations
It sounds unusual, but some women have said they feel an electric shock sensation under their skin.
Feelings of extreme exhaustion or a complete loss of energy are one of the common signs of perimenopause.
13. Feelings of Dread
Often located in the pit of the stomach, we feel dread for no apparent reason.
Some perimenopausal women report feeling like they have bugs crawling on their arms and legs.
15. Hot Flushes
This is probably the most infamous sign of peri and is recognisable by the heating up of the body/face and red flushing of the skin.
16. Hair changes
This one’s an extremely frustrating sign for many women in peri as they experience thinning hair on their head and other parts of their bodies along with an increase in facial hair.
Hormonal headaches really are a ‘thing’ and even if you’ve never experienced them during your period they can rear their heads (pardon the pun) or be exacerbated in peri.
This one is seldom discussed but very real. Bladder leakage and control are one of those ‘shhh’ signs. It’s why we have Elvie (my BFF). You can read about Elvie here. If you can’t get yourself an Elvie pelvic floor exercises are also extremely helpful.
Along with sleep issues and night sweats insomnia can become an issue during perimenopause.
20. Irregular heartbeat
This one gives new meaning to the phrase ‘be still my beating heart’, but it’s quite a common perimenopausal sign. If it occurs breathe deeply in and out for a few breaths.
21. Irregular menstrual cycle
As we mentioned above, menstrual irregularity is often the first sign of perimenopause, and some ladies may experience heavy bleeding during their period.
There are many comedic memes out there about this one, but all laughter aside it’s a common fact that perimenopausal women often become very irritable. Breathe deep.
23. Itchy skin
It’s not talked about often, probably because people don’t associate it with hormone imbalance, but itchy skin can definitely be a side effect of those pesky fluctuating hormones.
24. Joint pain
Unfortunately, many women put this down to overexercise or exercise and don’t connect the dots that it’s a common sign of perimenopause.
25. Loss of libido
Not feeling ‘in the mood’ is common during peri. Annoying? Definitely. Probably more so for your other half!
26. Mood swings
Tears, joy, irritability, rage – the pendulum can swing back and forth with perimenopausal women.
27. Muscle tension
A feeling of increased muscle tension or pain may not be due to your workout but a result of hormonal fluctuation.
28. Night sweats
Many women complain about this sign, which wakes them in the middle of the night contributing to fatigue.
29. Oral problems
Some people experience increased problems with bleeding gums and tooth loss in perimenopause.
It’s an unusual word, isn’t it? It refers to ‘tingling extremities’ because it’s a sensation often felt in the hands, arms, feet, and legs. It can feel like numbness or ‘pins and needles’
31. Vaginal dryness
Because estrogen levels drop during menopause, a lessening of the vaginal ‘mucosa’ leads to vaginal dryness.
32. Weakened fingernails
The hormonal fluctuations associated with peri can limit the body’s ability to produce keratin, resulting in brittle fingernails and toenails.
33. Weight gain
One of the biggest bugbears of women at this age is weight gain. It’s due to both hormonal and metabolic changes, but it can be rectified through lifestyle changes.
This becomes a serious risk for women at menopause. Osteoporosis (meaning porous bone) is a skeletal disease characterised by weakened bones and increased risk of bone fractures. The prevalence of osteoporosis is on the increase and affects more than half of women over 60. We lose bone mass two to four times faster after menopause – 10 percent of it in the first five years of post-menopause.
For more detailed symptom information click here.
*It’s important to remember that every woman’s body is different so we are talking average statistics here.
We hope that helps you wade through the, often confusing, changes of this life stage. Having been there, we know what a rollercoaster this time can be. Don’t hesitate to reach out here if you have any questions.
Disclaimer: This article should never take the place of medical advice. Perimenopausal signs could also be indicative of some other conditions such as pregnancy and various disorders so please see your GP to rule them out.