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What are the Physical Symptoms of the Perimenopause?

dr sally bell specialist symptoms Aug 04, 2022

Perimenopause symptoms are unique to each woman. As the hormones produced by your ovaries – oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone – reduce and eventually cease, many physical symptoms may be experienced.

These may include some or all of: 

  • Night sweats and hot flushes
  • Lack of energy
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Aching muscles and joints
  • Dry skin or acne
  • A change in the colour, texture or thickness of hair
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increase in urine infections
  • Vaginal dryness and pain during sex
  • Burning mouth syndrome
  • Itching and soreness of the skin
  • Increased frequency and severity of headaches and migraines
  • Change to periods - may become heavier, erratic, lighter and spotting may occur

Your periods may remain regular and largely unchanged as other perimenopausal symptoms present.

Our hormones affect all parts of our health and wellbeing. The parts of our bodies that react most strongly to changing hormone levels are unique to each individual. Some women are lucky not to have any symptoms at all, aside from periods ending.

Are there mental & emotional symptoms of the perimenopause?

Yes, the optimal balance between oestrogen and progesterone is very calming, so when that balance is disrupted as production declines, several mental and emotional symptoms may result.

These may include:

  • Increased anxiety and irritability
  • Panic attacks
  • Heightened aggression
  • Difficulty dealing with stressful situations
  • Disrupted sleep and difficulty getting to sleep
  • More intense, and difficult to manage premenstrual syndrome
  • Brain fog, and memory issues such as difficulty remembering everyday details
  • Mood swings
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Reduced libido (sexual desire)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of motivation, and reduced capacity to cope with tasks you are very competent at.

These, often subtle changes to our mental and emotional health are less known and often overlooked. These symptoms of perimenopause can sometimes be misdiagnosed as a mental health disorder, when in fact it is just the effect of our mind and body adapting to the new, lower levels of progesterone, oestrogen and testosterone.

Progesterone is the first hormone to decline in perimenopause. This hormone is known for being calming, soothing, and aiding sleep.

Oestrogen and testosterone decline next, and these are associated with brain health and mood regulation.As these three key hormones reduce, and eventually stop being produced by our ovaries, it’s no surprise that the effect of their reduction appears as mental and emotional, as well as physical.

You do not have to suffer with these symptoms, there are treatments and approaches that may help, from Lifestyle and Nutritional Changes through to HRT. 

A useful starting point when seeking help during perimenopause is tracking your symptoms. Observing and writing down the frequency and intensity. This information will help you identify which are having the biggest impact on your life and complete the picture to present to a GP or other health professional. 

If you've found this article useful you may wish to download or print off this free download of 5 Commonly Asked Questions relating to Perimenopause 


RELATED BLOG ARTICLES: When Does The Menopause Start and End?


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