How Do I Know If I’m Perimenopausal?

by | May 12, 2021 | Blog, Menopause, Menopause Mindset, Mindfulness, Peri-Menopause | 0 comments

Simply put, menopause is the ending of a woman’s reproductive years. The idea of which may fill you with jubilation or leave you with a sense of loss. You are not considered in menopause until you have gone at least 12 months without menstruating. But, how do I know if I’m Perimenopausal?

Perimenopause is the stage that leads up to menopause and it can last anything from a few months to 10 years. Although perimenopause usually starts in the 40s, it can begin earlier or later so it’s worth knowing the signs. Many of which can be symptoms or side effects of other things and so it’s not always straightforward, which is why so many women ask me, ‘how do I know if I’m perimenopausal?’

Below are some of the typical signs of perimenopause, but do please consult your doctor to confirm as it’s never wise to self-diagnose. It’s likely that if you’re experiencing the below symptoms then you’re probably perimenopausal, but also be aware there are over 32 signs of perimenopause in total.

Reading through this list might seem a little overwhelming and look somewhat bleak. Please remember that these are some of the possible tell-tell signs of perimenopause. This does not reflect the whole experience, which is different from woman-to-woman and sometimes even from day-to-day. This list does also not touch on all the wonderful and positive parts of reaching middle-age, of which there are many. Ensure you read through my other blog posts for some more uplifting information too.


Hot Flashes

When in perimenopause we may experience hot flashes. Hot flashes are intense rises in heat, mostly in your face, neck and collarbone. This may cause a reddening of the skin and sometimes evening sweating. Though hot flashes don’t tend to last longer than a few minutes, they are spontaneous and can be disruptive.

Many women experiencing hot flashes find it helpful to carry a portable fan. I also recommend dressing in layers so that clothing can be removed when the flashes occur.

Irregular Periods

During perimenopause, our hormones become somewhat erratic. As our estrogen and progesterone levels change, periods can become fewer and last less time.

Often, menopause is falsely perceived as an off switch. As if one month your body is functioning as it always has, and the next month your period doesn’t show up and never appears again. In reality, perimenopause usually lasts between a few months and a few years. Periods become irregular but they don’t stop overnight. This is why it’s still possible to get pregnant in perimenopause. Irregular periods are such a well-known sign of perimenopause though, that other symptoms sometimes get ignored. Remember that if your periods have not changed but you are experiencing other symptoms you can still going through perimenopause.

Fatigue

A lack of regulation in hormones can lead to perimenopausal fatigue. Extreme tiredness and lack of energy. This can be further fuelled if you’re also experiencing difficulty sleeping. Fatigue can be a particularly difficult symptom of perimenopause to manage because in our 40s when perimenopause is likely to begin, many of us are leading very busy lives. Fatigue can be debilitating and also equally difficult to explain.

Although there is no miracle cure, there are a few things we can do to fight fatigue. Exercise can help to raise our energy levels. We also often experience a dip in our metabolism as we age and therefore we require less food. Keeping your portion sizes sensible to avoid overworking the digestive system at night can lead to deeper sleep. You may find intuitive eating a good solution and you read more about that here.

Mostly, be gentle with yourself and reward yourself with meditation breaks rather than trying to push through periods of fatigue. Lack of energy can make us feel unworthy and frustrated, but in reality, this is just a symptom of our body changing and transforming. It’s no more our fault than irregular periods or hot flashes, so don’t let it become something you feel badly about.

Mood Swings

There is research to suggest that those who experience greater mood swings during menstruation, may be more likely to experience them during perimenopause. It’s no wonder since your hormones have been thrown into turmoil. The good news is that it isn’t permanent. Perimenopause is the body-transforming and so it will find itself in harmony once again. In the meantime though, you may find yourself quick to anger, more emotional and even depressed. Though our culture often makes light of these symptoms, in truth it can be very distressing to feel out of touch with our emotions and unable to rely on our instincts.

I highly recommend dedicating some time every day to self-care. Whether this is meditation yoga or even boxing. Something that makes you feel in control and connects your mind and body again. If you struggle to make time for self-care then please read my guide to Ensuring Self-Care Doesn’t Become A Chore. However, if your mood swings are causing you depression please do also talk to your doctor.

Some women, though possibly suffering due to hormonal changes, may also be struggling emotionally with ageing. Let’s face it – it doesn’t have the best reputation. It isn’t celebrated in the same way that youth is. However, there are so many wonderful things that happen to and for us as we reach mid-life. As a Wellbeing Coach, I specialise in helping women transition through menopause and find joy in ageing. I run a number of one-to-one and group programmes supporting women to flourish and thrive through perimenopause. Find out more

Low Libido

Again, we can blame those unbalanced hormone levels for low libido during perimenopause. For some women, a decrease in sex drive is not an issue, but for others, it can be a very difficult part of perimenopause. Perhaps this is why there are thousands of Google searches for this every month.

Lower sex drive in perimenopause can be a result of vaginal dryness which can make sex uncomfortable. However, it can also be caused by other symptoms such as mood imbalance. Sometimes we lose interest in sex as we struggle to make peace with our changing bodies. Most women experience physical changes as they go through perimenopause and learning to love ourselves again is a process. One which can affect our desire for sexual intercourse.

If you’re struggling to feel sexy again the take a look through The Five Things I Do Every Day To Feel Sexier.

High Libido

Unfortunately, this one isn’t all that common but it does happen more often than one might think. A drop in oestrogen can result in a rush increase of testosterone which can ramp up our sex drive. Sometimes this can be during menstruation or could be more of a constant.

Whilst a rise in libido can be tiring, a sex surge can also help our energy and happiness levels. My advice for dealing with increased sex drive during perimenopause? Enjoy it. 

Night Sweats

Night sweats are a common symptom of perimenopause. They are basically hot flashes that take place at night. Particularly troublesome, as they disrupt the sleep we crave even more during perimenopause.

I recommend turning the thermostat down before you go to bed. Try to get to bed a little earlier, so that you might make up the sleep you could potentially lose through the night. Also, our bodies deserve a proper rest too and eating late at night or large portions mean we are keeping our digestive system working overtime when really it should be clocking off. Though night sweats cannot be controlled, improving our general health by establishing or maintaining healthy habits can help give us the best chances of a good night’s sleep. Read my Top Tips For Quality Sleep In Menopause. 

Perimenopause and menopause are all too often viewed negatively and at the same time are easily dismissed in our culture. Yet, I know there are many wonderful parts of this transition to enjoy and treasure. I also know it’s important to express the elements during this transition which we struggle with. Working with women in their 40s and 50s to help them feel more confident, learn to love their bodies and optimise their health and happiness, is a great joy of my life. I’ve found a way to thrive and flourish and I can help you too. Whether you’re approaching perimenopause, going through it or are post-menopausal, please do get in touch with me if you would like to speak about the mindful ways in which we can help you feel fabulous in this new exciting stage of life. 

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As a qualified nutritional therapist, mindfulness teacher and trained chef, I have a deep understanding of all the factors that contribute to our wellbeing.

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