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PERIMENOPAUSE EXPLAINED

Perimenopause is literally translated as ‘around the time of the menopause’.

What is the average age to start perimenopause?

Typically, perimenopausal symptoms begin in the 40s but can start as early as the 30s. This phase can last anything up to 12 years – not an insignificant amount of time - before the actual menopause occurs and so it is an important time to take stock of what is happening with a view to keeping yourself as healthy as you can to help minimise your symptoms. What is interesting is that many women who are now postmenopausal look back and realise that the way they were feeling and reacting in the run up to their menopause were actually classic symptoms of the perimenopause – Clearly we all need a better understanding of this phase so that we can help ourselves and each other make sense of what’s going on in our bodies (and heads!).

What are the first signs of perimenopause?

Typically, perimenopausal symptoms begin in the 40s but can start as early as the 30s. This phase can last anything up to 12 years – not an insignificant amount of time - before the actual menopause occurs and so it is an important time to take stock of what is happening with a view to keeping yourself as healthy as you can to help minimise your symptoms. What is interesting is that many women who are now postmenopausal look back and realise that the way they were feeling and reacting in the run up to their menopause were actually classic symptoms of the perimenopause – Clearly we all need a better understanding of this phase so that we can help ourselves and each other make sense of what’s going on in our bodies (and heads!).

Symptoms include:

  • night sweats
  • hot flushes
  • disrupted sleep and tiredness
  • forgetfulness
  • brain fog
  • feeling increasingly emotionally fragile and overwhelmed
  • having problems concentrating
  • joint pain
  • vaginal dryness and itching
  • an increased risk of urinary tract infections like cystitis
  • increasingly erratic monthly cycles.

Also note that if you are experiencing typically menopausal symptoms whilst still having periods you may be  perimenopausal. Your periods might become heavier and more frequent; lighter and spaced further apart and/or a combination of both of these.  You can also still become pregnant during the perimenopause phase so you need to continue using contraception.

How to manage your perimenopause symptoms

Almost all menopause experts point out that the women who suffer less with perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms are the ones who generally look after themselves – eating a healthy balanced diet, taking regular exercise , getting enough sleep and finding ways to relax and deal with stress. It might also be the time to discuss HRT with your GP to see if that is an option for you.

 

For more support and advice, head back to our dedicated menopause guide

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