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Is it Perimenopause? Symptoms that might surprise you.

If you're over 40 you're probably aware that perimenopause is around the corner, or even something you're already experiencing. You might be expecting hot flashes and the odd grumpy day. But did you know there's a whole myriad of symptoms that perimenopause can cause? Some of which science is only just becoming aware of.

If you're between the ages of 40 and 65, and sometimes even younger, you may currently be experiencing these very symptoms. Your body begins to undergo changes several years before menopause actually occurs, entering a phase known as perimenopause. During this time, periods start to become irregular, accompanied by various unexpected physical and emotional changes.

The perimenopause symptoms you might be expecting

Perimenopause can be accompanied by many different symptoms. The decline, and fluctuation, of the three main sex hormones - oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone - can be accompanied by physical, mental and emotional symptoms.

The most common and widely known of which include:

  • Hot flushes and night sweats: These are moments when your body suddenly feels intensely hot, causing your skin temperature to rise, and can be quite distressing for some. At night, you might find yourself waking up drenched in sweat, requiring you to change your clothes or even your bedding.

  • Mood swings: Changes in oestrogen levels can disrupt the production of mood-regulating neurotransmitters, leading to fluctuations in mood. These swings can range from feeling euphoric to a deep depression.

  • Weight gain/change in body shape: The decline of oestrogen can contribute to a change of body shape as fat storage begins to change from the lower body to the stomach and upper body.

  • Vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy: With decreasing oestrogen levels, the body's natural lubrication diminishes, leading to dryness, thinning, and reduced elasticity of the vagina. This can result in irritation, itching, and discomfort. Sexual activity and arousal may become painful, impacting libido.

The perimenopause symptoms you might not be expecting...

As you can see from the list below (which is not exhaustive) there can be a huge number of other symptoms of perimenopause that many people, including doctors, do not recognise. Some women will experience none of the common symptoms but may struggle with a number of these less common symptoms.

  • Bloating: Hormonal changes during perimenopause and early menopause can cause bloating, this does typically resolve once hormone levels stabilise.

  • Sleep problems: Decreasing hormone levels can trigger sleep disturbances including interrupted sleep, insomnia, early awakening, or oversleeping.

  • Brain fog: A decline in oestrogen and progesterone levels can lead to erratic cortisol levels, resulting in forgetfulness, confusion, loss of focus, difficulty concentrating and slower cognitive function.

  • Headaches or migraines: These can ramp up during perimenopause and often resolve with menopause as hormones level off.

  • Burning tongue: The drop in oestrogen can trigger a burning sensation in the mouth and tongue, accompanied by a metallic taste, dryness, soreness, and tingling.

  • Incontinence or frequent urination: Decreasing oestrogen levels or changes in pelvic muscles, can lead to urinary and faecal incontinence or an increase in bathroom visits.

  • Dizziness: Hormonal fluctuations can disrupt the inner ear's ability to provide balance, leading to dizziness and vertigo.

  • Thinning or loss of hair and brittle nails: Increased levels of androgens can cause hair follicles to shrink, resulting in bald patches, thinning hair, and dry, brittle nails.

  • Arthritis, joint, bone, and muscle aches: Oestrogen has an anti-inflammatory role in the body, so its loss can intensify aches, pains, and stiffness in joints, bones, and muscles.

  • Change in body odour: Hormonal fluctuations can lead to changes in body odour.

  • Breast sensitivity and pain: Hormonal fluctuations can cause fluid build-up in the breasts, resulting in tenderness and swelling.

  • Increase in allergies: Declining hormones during perimenopause can accelerate histamine production, potentially leading to new allergies or exacerbate existing ones.

  • Irregular heartbeat and palpitations: Perimenopause can trigger irregular heartbeat and palpitations.

  • Tingling sensation throughout the body (paraesthesia): Sensations such as prickling, stinging, "pins and needles," or numbness can be symptoms during perimenopause.

  • Digestive problems: Hormonal reduction can lead to constipation, indigestion, and discomfort due to cortisol level fluctuations.

  • Voice changes: Decreasing oestrogen and progesterone levels and rising testosterone levels can cause hoarseness, lower pitch, and vocal fatigue.

Did any of these surprise you? Are you experiencing any of these symptoms yourself and have you found anything that helps?

If you need help with the emotional, mental and physical symptoms of menopause therapeutic and menopause coaching can be an amazing tool. Check out our coaching services or contact me to find out more.

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