With so much talk about “the change,” many woman are wondering what are the early symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. This is a loaded question because there are a lot of potential symptoms, but those symptoms could also be symptoms of something else. We will take a look at the most common early symptoms of menopause and perimenopause and some of the less common ones.
As you know menopause marks the end of a woman’s reproductive time and is a natural biological process. Menopause is not an illness and nothing to be afraid of. Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, but can occur earlier or later.
Perimenopause is the time prior to menopause when the estrogen levels start to fluctuate more drastically than before. Menopause is only one day, the one year anniversary of no periods. After that day women are postmenopausal.
I have noticed that many people keep saying that perimenopause can start in the early thirties. This could be the case, but we have to be careful about thinking that some changes in our health and body are the result of perimenopause; those changes can be an indication of other health problems. Many issues attributed to perimenopause or early menopause symptoms can simply be thyroid imbalances, or instance or nutritional deficiencies. We cannot discard other health conditions.
Early symptoms of menopause and perimenopause
This is the most obvious early symptom of perimenopause and menopause for most women. Menstrual cycles become less predictable and eventually stop. They can be shorter, longer, heavier or lighter, and they may come at less predictable times. Menstrual cycles can be one month very heavy and the next month you may even wonder if that was a cycle.
Yes, it is a lovely symptom (add sarcastic smile). Some women eat the same way, workout the same way and without adding more calories or lowering physical activity, the weight keeps climbing. As the hormones decrease further, the shape of the body can change to a larger tummy. Metabolic changes are a result of hormonal fluctuation or high stress levels. This is stubborn weight and in many cases what worked before to manage the weight doesn’t work anymore. A few lucky women have the reverse of this and they lose weight and keep it off.
Hormonal changes during menopause and perimenopause can lead to mood swings, irritability, and depression. Many women get very emotional and cry without a reason. It is a time of higher sensitivity.
During perimenopause and menopause the body has fluctuating and decreasing estrogen levels. This can lead to vaginal dryness and discomfort during intercourse. Many women use over the counter products such as vaginal moisturizers and lubricants. Low-dose vaginal estrogen can help relieve vaginal dryness and discomfort and they tend to be very safe in the vagina, because the vagina is like Vegas, what happens there stays there; that estrogen cream only affects the vagina.
A hot flash is a sudden feeling of heat that spreads over the body and is often accompanied by sweating and a rapid heartbeat. This is one of the more clear symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. It is a feared symptom because it can present itself at very inappropriate moments, for example, during a work meeting.
They are similar to hot flashes, but they are always at night and they bring a lot of sweat. Night sweats can cause drenching sweat and discomfort while sleeping. In extreme cases some women have to change sheets in the middle of the night.
Hot flashes and night sweats can cause sleep disturbances and lead to fatigue and reduced energy levels. Many women cannot sleep through the night or have difficulty sleeping.
A decrease in estrogen levels can also lead to a reduction in sexual desire.
Cognitive and mental changes
Some women may experience memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and other mental changes during menopause. Sometimes this is the result of lack of good or sufficient sleep other times it is the result of hormonal imbalance.
Less energy and fatigue
This can be the result of lack of sleep or low estrogen but sometimes it also has other causes such too much stress, loss of muscle mass, and poor diet.
It’s important to note that most women can manage these symptoms with lifestyle changes and/or hormone replacement therapy. My program BLISS in Menopause teaches you how to manage and lower the symptoms in a natural and easy way.
The first step to manage the symptoms is to track them and identify triggers. I invite you to download my free tracker; it has instruction on how to use it.