While many of us have heard of menopause, perimenopause is a term that’s perhaps slightly less well understood. Perimenopause refers to the transitional period leading up to menopause, where a woman’s body goes through a series of hormonal changes. As I am approaching that age, or I am that age, I thought it would be good to start doing my research. Check out my other health and well-being posts.
Perimenopause can last for several years and is a totally natural process. While it often results in unpleasant symptoms, there are a number of tools that can help to manage them, from perimenopause supplements to relaxation techniques. Here’s what you can expect from perimenopause.
One of the most common symptoms of perimenopause is increasingly irregular periods. You may notice that your periods become shorter or longer, lighter or heavier, or that you skip periods altogether. This is because your body is starting to produce less estrogen, which can directly affect your menstrual cycle.
Hot flushes are also commonly experienced symptoms of perimenopause. Hot flushes are sudden, unpleasant sensations of warmth that spread rapidly throughout the body, while night sweats are similar to hot flushes but occurring during the night, often resulting in sweating and sleeping difficulties.
Changes in mood are another common symptom of perimenopause. You may feel irritable, anxious, or depressed, and experience mood swings. These changes in mood tend to be at least partially caused by fluctuations in hormone levels.
As estrogen levels start to decline, many women may experience vaginal dryness. This can cause discomfort during sexual activity and may increase the risk of urinary tract infections – using a lubricant can help, if you still find you have the desire to have sex.
Changes in libido
Fluctuations in hormone levels can also lead to changes in your sex drive. Some women experience an increase in libido, while others experience a decrease. Both are generally totally natural, and you may find that they change again as you transition into menopause.
Insomnia and other sleep disturbances are also common symptoms that can be experienced during perimenopause. This may be due to night sweats, but can also be caused by other factors, such as increases in stress or anxiety.
Memory and concentration problems
Some women experience memory and concentration problems during perimenopause. This can be the result of hormonal changes, as well as other factors such as stress or lack of sleep due to sleep disturbances. Try to ensure that you focus on self-care routines, and try not to be frustrated with yourself if you find that you’re not thinking in the same way as you might have before.
Estrogen is important for maintaining bone density, so as estrogen levels decline during perimenopause, women may experience bone density change. This can increase the risk of osteoporosis and fractures, and it’s important to seek medical attention before this becomes a serious issue.
Many women experience weight gain during perimenopause, particularly around the abdomen. This may be due to hormonal changes, but can also be caused by other factors such as a decrease in physical activity.
While perimenopause can be a challenging time for many women to go through, there are a variety of different treatments and lifestyle solutions that can help to make it a lot more manageable. If you’re experiencing symptoms of perimenopause, it can be a good idea to talk to your doctor, to discuss some of the best ways to try to manage them.
Siobhan NMarch 21, 2023
Rather naively, untuil hitting the meopause I hadn’t realised just just how the Perimenopause and menopause would take!
ashleighMarch 22, 2023
Approaching that age too 🙁
lynn nealMarch 25, 2023
It’s great that you are highlighting what can happen because too many women are unaware of these changes and they can be frightening when you don’t know!
Margaret GallagherMarch 26, 2023
I was lucky and had a great gp – also very early menopause sucess with HRT