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Most women in their 40โ€™s and 50โ€™s dread menopause. What you may not know is that hot flashes, moodiness and suddenly gaining belly fat are actually symptoms of perimenopause. Menopause is just a short marker at the end of this wild ride. 

Perimenopause is the transition to menopause and the end of the reproductive years. As you go through this transition, your body’s production of estrogen and progesterone rises and falls. Many of the changes you experience during perimenopause are a result of decreasing estrogen.

 Women start perimenopause at different ages. You may notice signs such as menstrual irregularity, sometime in your 40s, but some women notice changes as early as their mid-30s. The average length of perimenopause is 4 years, but for some women this stage may last only a few months or up to 10 years.

Estrogen levels go up and down more sporadically than they do in a typical 28-day cycle, this can cause irregular periods and other symptoms.

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats and/or cold flashes.
  • Vaginal dryness; discomfort during sex.
  • Urinary urgency (a pressing need to urinate more frequently).
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia).
  • Emotional changes (irritability, mood swings, mild depression).
  • Dry skin, dry eyes or dry mouth.
  • Worsening of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
  • Irregular periods or skipping periods.
  • Periods that are heavier or lighter than usual.
  • Breast tenderness. Some women might also experience:
  • Racing heart.
  • Headaches.
  • Joint and muscle aches and pains.
  • Changes in libido (sex drive).
  • Difficulty concentrating, memory lapses (often temporary).
  • Weight gain.
  • Hair loss or thinning.

Not all women get all of these symptoms. However, women affected with new symptoms of racing heart, urinary changes, headaches, or other new medical problems should see a doctor to make sure there is no other cause for these symptoms.

Doctors are quick to prescribe birth control and Prozac to โ€œhelpโ€ symptoms. Why not treat the root cause, the hormonal fluctuation? Serious symptoms may need medical intervention or HRT, there are plenty of options available to us. Taking control of our bodies through diet, exercise and environment should be the first step. 

If you are unsure whether you are in perimenopause you can take this quiz, itโ€™s strictly confidential, you donโ€™t even enter your name!

Am I in perimenopause?

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The Mastering Menopause podcast values every question or inquiry our listeners might have. So, if you have something youโ€™d like to ask regarding fitness, nutrition, or menopause, send them my way.