It’s a fact that whilst the average age of menopause is between 51 and 52, the hormonal changes that occur before menopause begin much sooner—often in the early to mid 40’s, but in some cases occurring as early as the mid to late 30’s. Perimenopause starts when your ovaries reduce production of the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone, and release eggs less often. Fluctuating hormonal levels lead to an imbalance in the autonomic nervous system (ANS) causing emotional, mental and physical changes in a woman’s body.
You might notice that you’re just a little grouchier or that your periods aren’t quite as regular. You gain weight even though you’re exercising and eating right, and most of it seems to be settling around your tummy.
But because symptoms such as these often begin years before your periods become majorly affected, it’s all too easy to overlook or dismiss them as a result of a busy modern lifestyle.
Peri-menopausal changes may be felt all over the body and can continue for anything from two to ten years.
Eventually, more obvious physical signs such as hot flushes, night sweats and/or palpitations, thinning hair, brain fog, memory lapses, loss of skin tone, and increasing gaps between and eventual absence of periods for a full 12 months will make it clear that you’ve transitioned into full menopause.
Symptoms You May Experience
- Hot flushes and night sweats
- Reduced skin tone
- Low energy levels
- Sleep disturbance or insomnia
- Mood swings – anxiety, irritability, low confidence
- Weight gain
- Heart palpitations
- Loss of sex drive
- Vaginal dryness and painful intercourse
- Difficulty concentrating, lapses of memory
- Urinary problems – incontinence, urgency, bladder infections
- Hair loss
- Digestive problems – indigestion, cramping, nausea
- Sore muscles, tendons and joints
- Breast soreness or tenderness
- Increased muscle tension