At midlife often women acquire an array of different worrying ailments that they put down to being stressed, rushing around with too many things to do, or just getting older. They can range from a tingling in their fingers and toes at night time to not remembering where they left the car keys! Other common symptoms include not being unable to sleep properly, aches and pains, erratic and painful periods, and feeling anxious and depressed. They don’t often twig that any of these are related to each other. When they visit their doctor – they only mention the worst symptoms so he doesn’t connect the dots either.
Perimenopause is the transitional time around menopause which can last anything from 2 -10 years. It precedes menopause, which is when a woman's periods stop. This time before menopause is marked by changes in the menstrual cycle, along with other physical and emotional symptoms. During this time, your body:
- Releases eggs less regularly
- Produces less oestrogen and other hormones
- Becomes less fertile
- Has shorter and more irregular menstrual cycles
Perimenopause is a natural process caused when your ovaries gradually stop working. Ovulation may become erratic and then stop. The menstrual cycle lengthens and flow may become irregular, heavy and very painful before your final period.
Symptoms are caused by the changing levels of hormones in the body. When oestrogen is higher, you may have symptoms like you might have with PMS. When oestrogen is low, you may have hot flushes or night sweats. These hormone changes may be mixed with normal cycles.
When does Perimenopause happen?
Although the average age of menopause is 51, menopause can actually happen any time from the 30s to the mid-50s or later. Women who smoke and are underweight tend to have an earlier menopause, while women who are overweight often have a later menopause. Generally, a woman tends to have menopause at about the same age as her mother did.
The symptoms that mark perimenopause are:
1. Hot flushes
One of the most common symptoms of menopause, hot flushes affect around 75% of menopausal women. Hot flushes normally appear as a rising redness on the chest, neck and face and can make you feel very overheated and sweaty.
2. Night sweats
Essentially, night sweats are hot flushes that occur at night and can disrupt sleep or can lead you to feeling unpleasant when you wake up.
3. Irregular periods
Because menopause is all to do with the end of your reproductive years, your periods will start to dissipate as your hormone production decreases. These can, therefore, become very erratic; sometimes you may get PMS but with no bleeding, for example.
4. Mood swings
With studies showing that mood swings affect 27% of menopausal women, this can feel like a more extreme version of the mood swings you may have experienced during your periods.
5. Vaginal dryness
Your natural lubrication is maintained by your oestrogen levels, so as these begin to drop, you may notice vaginal dryness. This can cause some pain and discomfort, particularly during sex. Thankfully, there are a number of remedies for this, including lubricants and moisturising creams.
6. Decreased libido
While a man’s sex drive is largely controlled by testosterone, a woman’s is primarily controlled by oestrogen. As we’ve already established, these levels drastically drop during menopause, which can reduce your sexual appetite.
These are typically more common for women who experienced them during their periods. You can get some quick relief from 4head cutaneous stick or Kool ‘n’ soothe but if headaches persist then you may be suffering from migraines and should visit your doctor.
8. Breast soreness
Any time in your life when your hormones drastically change can create the same symptoms; this is typically menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. So while breasts can become sore while on your period or pregnant, it can also happen during menopause.
9. Burning mouth
It’s not quite as common as some of the other symptoms, but decreased levels of saliva during menopause can lead to what’s known as ‘burning mouth syndrome’. This is a hot sensation that affects the tongue, lips, cheeks and roof of the mouth.
10. Joint pain
Not all joint pain may signal arthritis, but the menopause is a common time for women to develop musculoskeletal symptoms
11. Digestive problems
Your digestive system is one of the most sensitive systems in your body and is often the first thing to get disrupted due to any major changes to your body (new medications, new foods, nervousness). Changes to hormones are another major body change that can lead to stomach upsets such as bloating, indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea and cramps.
12. Electric shocks
Because of the erratic changes going on in your body during menopause, you may notice that you experience more electric shocks. It’s also common to get these just before a hot flush.
13. Muscle tension
This can often be closely linked to stress and anxiety and presents itself as a feeling of tightness in the muscles, like a strain.
14. Gum problems
Affecting between 10 and 40 percent of menopausal women, gum problems are often accompanied by a metallic taste in the mouth.
15. Tingling extremities
It’s not overly common but a tingling sensation can appear on any part of the body. This is usually in the feet, hands, arms and legs.
16. Itchy skin
Low oestrogen levels can also lead to low collagen levels. Collagen is responsible for keeping skin plump, firm and healthy so with less of it, you may notice that skin can become thing, dry and itchy. Be sure to combat this with an intensive moisturiser.
One of the more common symptoms of menopause, many women will notice a feeling of extreme tiredness.
Along with mood swings, menopausal women may notice increased feelings of anxiety. As many as one in three women may experience this during menopause. To help calm feelings of anxiety, you could try a herbal supplement, such as Passion flower.
19. Disrupted sleep
Because of all the changes going on in your body (as well as the other menopausal symptoms), you may also experience disrupted sleep and insomnia. If this persists, sleeping tablets may be able to help.
20. Hair loss
While most people are aware that a lot of men lose their hair as they get older, not everyone realises that women get this too. Menopause can act as an accelerator for hair loss, leaving it looking thinner.
21. Memory lapses
These are usually only temporary but memory lapses can occur during menopause. Try some brain training exercises to strengthen cognitive function.
22. Difficulty concentrating
The brain doesn’t work as hard during menopause because oestrogen is the hormone that pushes it to burn glucose for energy. With lower levels of oestrogen, you end up with a lack of focus and concentration.
23. Weight gain
Many women notice weight gain when they start taking the contraceptive pill, caused by a major change in hormones. The major change in hormones during menopause can also cause weight gain but this can usually be combated by healthy eating and exercising. If you are unable to lose weight on your own then you may find that weight loss pills are able to help.
24. Dizzy spells
Vertigo and feeling dizzy during menopause are thought to be caused by the drop in oestrogen production.
This usually occurs right at the start of your menopause and could even be one of the first symptoms you notice. If you’re still having periods but are constantly feeling bloated then this could be a hint that your menopause is coming.
26. Stress incontinence
A lot of women will already have experience incontinence as a result of childbirth, but this can increase around menopause. However, this could be more related to age than the actual menopausal process.
27. Brittle nails
Lower oestrogen levels and dehydration can leave your nails feeling brittle and can make them snap or break more easily.
While you may never have had a problem with certain things before, you may notice allergies or intolerances during or after menopause. This is because hormones are very closely linked to your immune system.
29. Irregular heartbeat
Lower oestrogen levels can overstimulate the nervous system and circulatory system, which can, in turn, lead to heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat.
30. Body odour
Not only can the menopause make you sweat more, but the change in hormones can also actually change your natural scent. If you find that excessive sweating is disrupting your life then you can find effective remedies at UK Meds.
Your hormones play a large role in contributing to your emotions and the fluctuation can lead to feelings of sadness or irritability.
In more extreme cases, this change in emotions can lead to depression. Depression is four times more likely to affect women of a menopausal age than a woman below the age of 45.
33. Panic disorder
Menopausal women are actually more susceptible to panic attacks than almost anyone else. If you are looking for a natural remedy to help you keep calm, try RelaxHerb.
Bone density can drop by up to 20% after the menopause, which puts you at risk of osteoporosis.
Not every woman will experience all 34 symptoms of menopause.
What can you do to reverse the symptoms of perimenopause
This change in hormone balance causes changes – which creep up on you so most of the time you never notice the difference until its corrected and you suddenly realise how bad it had been.
At the same time as the hormone changes, your body is usually crying out for a midlife refuel of key vitamins and nutrients. Given our busy lives we find ourselves running on empty and exhausted. It’s time to take a step back and take some time to help yourself. By making some changes to you diet and taking the right supplements – you can make positive changes.
Your goal is to restore oestrogen levels and put back some of the nutrients that time and nature have removed, including magnesium, zinc, B vitamins and essential fatty acids. I call it a ‘Midlife Refuel’ and my mission is that every woman on the planet knows how to achieve this.
Add a good a multivitamin to your daily routine – we recommend Fema 45+ which has especially formulated for women at this age.
Include phytoestrogens in your daily diet, spread throughout the day to satisfy the needs of the oestrogen receptor sites. Best sources include soya products, flaxseeds and red clover. Other lesser sources can be found in chickpeas, lentils, mung beans, alfalfa, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, rhubarb and green and yellow vegetables. Golden Flaxseeds are also rich in phytoestrogens and can be added to breakfast cereals. They are also a good source of fibre and can help constipation.
Have a total of five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables per day. These provide plenty of potassium and magnesium, plus small amounts of phytoestrogen. Where possible, eat organic products or grow your own.
Go for foods rich in calcium and magnesium, such as milk, green leafy vegetables, unsalted nuts and seeds, wholegrains and bony fish, including sardines and whitebait.
Eat regularly. Three meals a day help to ensure a good balanced diet, as well as a steady flow of energy throughout the day.
Include enough protein from animal or vegetarian sources in at least one meal a day. Low-protein diets jeopardise the balance of many nutrients, including calcium, Vitamin B and iron.
Limit your consumption of red meat to one or two portions a week. Go for fish, poultry, peas, beans and nuts instead.
Add two tablespoons of Golden Roasted Flaxseeds to your daily breakfast cereal, yoghurt or fruit salad.
Women who have followed our programme who are able to feel better. Watch the video below to see what women are saying. Menopause doesn’t have to be about degeneration – if we learn how to meet our needs it can be all about regeneration!
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