33 Symptoms of Perimenopause
There are said to be 33 symptoms of Perimenopause – those years leading up to Menopause when a woman’s periods finally stop.
In short, declining hormones have a lot to answer for. Women are often familiar with the concept of menopause and the eventual cessation of their monthly cycle. Unless there is a medical or genetic reason why they approach menopause much earlier, it is often something that people don’t expect to effect them until their late forties or fifties. The fact that women can start this in their thirties and early forties is less well known.
We have many years of fluctuating hormones leading up to menopause, and all the weird and not so wonderful symptoms that can go along with it, but it is not all doom and gloom. Not all women experience many symptoms, or suffer much at all. And there are things we can do to ease any symptoms that we do experience.
Women may experience a few or many of the symptoms from this list; and they may range from mild to having more of an impact. Some of these symptoms you may have heard of or already be familiar with. Some however, may come as a bit of a surprise!
Hormonal changes can have all sorts of unexpected effects on the body and hair loss is one of them. Hair loves oestrogen and progesterone, so fluctuating levels can effect hair growth. PCOS, hormonal birth control, and mineral deficiencies such as iron and zinc can all effect your hair. Eating a good diet and taking appropriate supplements can help, but remember results won’t show for three to six months due to the resting phase in a hairs growth cycle.
You might start gaining weight around your belly. The key is exercising regularly and consistently. Build in daily exercise if you can. Ten minutes of gentle yoga or a walk will work wonders.
3. Brittle nails
Lower oestrogen can lead to dehydration or lack of moisture in the body, which leads to dry, brittle nails. Water is key!
This can include difficulty getting to sleep, frequent waking, and sleeping more lightly than usual. All of these can make you feel as if a good night’s sleep is a thing of the past, and impact on energy levels and mood during the day. Avoid caffeine – found in coffee, tea and chocolate. Besides keeping you awake, it may also trigger hot flashes.
5.Electric shock sensation
What’s this about?! This can be a feeling of an electric shock or buzzing sensation, or like an elastic band snapping, and can effect any part of the body. It can often happen after a hot flush. This happens when hormonal imbalance interfere with your central nervous system, sending the wrong message to the brain. Relaxation techniques or a holistic treatment can help relieve these strange sensations.
You may develop new allergies and allergic reactions. Some women suffer allergies during their menstrual cycle alone, so it’s clear that hormone levels have an impact on allergic reaction. Learning what the triggers are, is key to avoiding symptoms.
One of the weirder symptoms of perimenopause! Thought to be the result of activation of pain sensitive nerve cells surrounding the bitter taste buds at the back of the tongue, which can be damaged by dwindling oestrogen.
8. Loss of libido
This can include lack of sexual desire and difficulty with arousal. These can be difficult symptoms to manage, but it is extremely common.
9. Vaginal dryness
Those fluctuating hormones can cause vaginal dryness and irritation, leading to painful intercourse, and impact on libido. There is nothing wrong with using a little aid to help you feel more comfortable between the sheets.
10. Gum disorder
Decreasing hormones can cause gum tissue to become thinner, and the amount of saliva to decrease, making gums more susceptible to dental plaque.
11. Mood Swings
Not only can fluctuating hormones impact on your mood, but anxiety about ageing can also cause you to feel all over the place with your mood. Oestrogen effects Serotonin – the ‘happy hormone’ in your brain which regulates mood. Mood swings can include feeling tearful, anxious, and angry. Diet, relaxation, and finding a physical outlet can help you manage this.
Other symptoms such as difficulty sleeping, and hot flushes, can contribute to fatigue during the day. Fatigue then exacerbates other symptoms such as anxiety and poor concentration. Some women find it helpful to power nap if they can, and regular exercise can be a great energy booster.
This can make you feel like you are in a constant state of PMS. A lack of patience and increased irritability are another sign of fluctuating oestrogen levels. Avoid refined carbs and sugars to keep your blood sugar levels stable.
14. Memory lapse
This can be forgetfulness, and occasional lapses in brain function. Writing everything down, a ‘to do’ list and keeping a diary can help you stay on track.
Changes in hormone levels can impact the inner ear by weakening the otoconia (an organ in the inner ear) causing vertigo. The body’s metabolism can be effected as not enough glucose is delivered to the cells for energy, leading to dizziness. And oestrogen helps the brain to understand the body’s position in its surrounding environment. So as levels fluctuating, dizzy spells can occur.
Skip chewing gum and dizzy drinks which can fill up your stomach with air, leaving you with a bloated abdomen. Avoid smoking and alcohol. Try Yoga for a number of exercises that are great in eliminating gas and excess water that can lead to bloating.
You may not be able to control your bladder as you did before, particularly if you have had stress from vaginal childbirth. Pelvic floor exercises can help.
18. Night sweats
Have a bottle of water by your bedside and try to avoid hot baths or showers within an hour of sleep. Wear loose clothes and have light bedding. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, reduce stress as much as you can, and sleep with the window open a little.
19. Irregular heartbeat
This can include feeling like your heart is beating faster than normal, skipping beats or feeling fluttery. It can be frightening, particularly as it often happens in the middle of the night. It can be linked to hot flushes, and cooling yourself down when you feel this happening can help calm this down. Reducing your intake of caffeine can significantly reduce heart palpitations. And be like Oprah, and “cut out the white stuff” – refined sugar, white rice, pasta and bread. It worked for her!
A healthy diet and regular exercise can help relieve symptoms of menopausal depression. Avocados boost serotonin! It is even more important to schedule in regular time to relax – get that treatment booked!
The hormonal changes that happen during menopause can also drive feelings of anxiety. Symptoms can be reduced and managed. Gentle exercise, such as getting outside for a walk or yoga can help. Treatments such as Bowen Technique, Reflexology or gentle massage can work wonders too.
22. Breast Pain
Breast soreness should improve once your periods stop and your body no longer produces oestrogen.
These can often be prevented if you remain hydrated. Drink little and often, and go for water rather than other drinks as much as you can. Relaxation can help too.
24. Joint Pain
It may be that oestrogen effects joints by keeping inflammation down. As oestrogen levels decline, joints swell and become more painful.
25. Digestive problems
This can include changes in the frequency of bowel movements, increased abdominal pain and discomfort, and bloating. Digestive problems can be alleviated by drinking more water and eating a balanced, fibre-rich diet. A plant based diet naturally contains more fibre, and can be helpful in keeping your digestive system healthy and your bowels regular.
Declining oestrogen impacts on bone density, so the risks of developing osteoporosis increases as women reach menopause. Take a good calcium and vitamin D supplement, and build strength through regular exercise.
27. Tingling extremities
Another weird symptom that can include tingling, numbness or heightened sensitivity. Symptoms can be heightened with stress.
28. Change in body odour
Increased sweating, and / or a change in how you smell is a normal occurrence during perimenopause. Shower regularly and invest in good products to help you feel and smell better.
29. Difficulty concentrating
Again, oestrogen deficiency can impact on concentration and cause brain fog. However, not getting enough sleep or sleep disruptions can also contribute to memory problems and cause issues with concentration.
30. Hot flashes
These are one of the most common symptoms though not everyone will experience them. Women often don’t expect them to show up until menopause, so they can be a bit of a shock. Flushes are generally a sudden feeling of heat, which can vary in intensity from a creeping heat effecting mainly the face, to whole body dripping with sweat. Avoiding spicy foods and caffeine, reducing stress and anxiety, wearing light clothing can help.
31. Itchy crawly skin
Keep hydrated, use a good sunscreen, and try using coconut oil or almond oil as part of your skincare routine.
32. Irregular periods
Irregular periods are one of the first symptoms of perimenopause. This might be longer cycles, shorter cycles, and heavier flow. Some months, it might seem like all you do is bleed, or you might not see a period for ages. Periods usually become erratic before they eventually stop altogether. Menopause is not considered to have been reached until you have had at least a year with no period.
33. Panic Disorders
Panic attacks can be a frightening experience. They can last anywhere from a few seconds to minutes or more. Symptoms can include hyperventilating, trembling and a rapid heart rate. They can be scary, but are not life threatening. Treating anxiety helps reduce the likelihood of a panic attack, and learning to recognise triggers and early signs of increasing anxiety so that you can deal with these before they escalate into a panic attack. Learning how to deep breathe to calm down those anxious feelings is a key skill, and one that needs practice. Distracting yourself from anxious thoughts by keeping busy can also be really helpful.
Now is the time to really start looking after your body. Most, if not all, of the above perimenopause symptoms can be helped by ensuring a healthy balanced diet (cut down on the caffeine, alcohol and rubbish food), move more and get some exercise, and take time out to manage your stress levels and relax. Women spend a third to half their life post menopause – lets make this transition as easy as we can.
I treat many women in my clinic with a wide range of symptoms caused by hormonal imbalance. Holistic treatments such as Reflexology and the Bowen Technique can be hugely beneficial in balancing hormones, reducing anxiety, boosting energy levels, improving mood, improving sleep and reducing symptoms such as hot flushes.
Please do get in touch if you would like to know how I can help you.
*This post is for information purposes only, and is not a substitute for seeking appropriate medical advice with regards to any symptoms you may be experiencing.
**There are a number of articles about perimenopause symptoms – this particular list has been taken from an article on GalwayNow.com with additional information.