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  • Writer's pictureJo Leccacorvi

Understanding Perimenopause: Navigating the Changes

Updated: Jun 22

Perimenopause is a significant phase that brings various changes. Understanding these changes can help you manage them better and where you may need to seek support.




Here’s a quick guide to understanding perimenopause symptoms:

 

1. Hot Flushes: Sudden feelings of intense heat, often with sweating and flushing.

2. Night Sweats: Excessive sweating during the night, often disrupting sleep.

3. Irregular Periods: Changes in menstrual cycle frequency, duration, and flow.

4. Mood Swings: Rapid and unexplained changes in mood, including irritability and sadness.

5. Decreased Libido: Reduced interest in sexual activity.

6. Vaginal Dryness: Reduced lubrication, leading to discomfort during intercourse.

7. Difficulty Sleeping: Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep; insomnia.

8. Fatigue: Persistent feeling of tiredness or lack of energy.

9. Anxiety: Increased feelings of nervousness or worry.

10. Depression: Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.

11. Memory Lapses: Difficulty remembering things or forgetfulness.

12. Difficulty Concentrating: Trouble focusing or maintaining attention.

13. Weight Gain: Increase in body weight, often around the abdomen.

14. Hair Loss or Thinning: Noticeable shedding or thinning of hair.

15. Breast Tenderness: Soreness or discomfort in the breasts.

16. Headaches: More frequent or severe headaches.

17. Heart Palpitations: Irregular or rapid heartbeats.

18. Joint Pain: Aching or stiffness in the joints.

19. Muscle Tension: Tightness or stiffness in muscles.

20. Burning Tongue or Altered Taste: Sensation of burning or changes in taste.

21. Electric Shock Sensations: Sudden, brief, and sharp sensations resembling an electric shock.

22. Digestive Issues: Bloating, gas, or changes in digestion.

23. Gum Problems or Bleeding Gums: Increased sensitivity or bleeding of the gums.

24. Tingling Extremities: Numbness or tingling in hands and feet.

25. Itchy Skin: Persistent itching without a rash.

26. Brittle Nails: Nails that break or split easily.

27. Allergies: Increased sensitivity to allergens or new allergies.

28. Osteoporosis: Decreased bone density, leading to fragile bones.

29. Dizzy Spells: Episodes of dizziness or light-headedness.

30. Bloating: Feeling of fullness or swelling in the abdomen.

31. Changes in Body Odour: Noticeable changes in body scent.

32. Stress Incontinence: Leakage of urine during physical activities like coughing or exercising.

33. Panic Disorder: Episodes of intense fear or anxiety.

34. Irregular Heartbeat: Fluctuations in heart rhythm.

 

Please bear in mind symptoms can vary in frequency and intensity from person to person and often overlap with other health conditions.

 

Managing Symptoms

Managing perimenopause symptoms effectively requires a holistic approach that considers various factors influencing women's health during this transitional phase. They can include lifestyle modifications, sleep hygiene, managing your stress, HRT and consulting with your GP

 

Lifestyle modifications

Stay Active: Regular exercise can help manage weight, improve mood, and promote better sleep.

 

Healthy Diet: Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can support overall health.

 

Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to help with hot flushes and maintain hydration.

 

Sleep hygiene

Sleep disturbances are common during perimenopause, often due to night sweats, hormonal fluctuations, and psychological factors. Practicing good sleep hygiene, such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and optimising the sleep environment, can help improve sleep quality and duration. Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and electronic devices before bedtime can also promote better sleep hygiene and alleviate insomnia symptoms.


Insomnia was one of the earliest symptoms I experienced during perimenopause. The things that helped me was reducing my caffeine intake, going booze free, leaving my phone downstairs in the kitchen on aeroplane mode (game changer), sleeping with an eye mask, using Rescue Remedy Rescue Night formula (this is not an ad, purchased with my own pennies) and making sure I go for a walk everyday whatever the weather.

 

Stress Reduction:

Stress reduction activities can significantly alleviate perimenopause symptoms by addressing both physical and emotional aspects. Here's how each of these activities can help:

 

Yoga:

  • Physical Benefits: Yoga improves flexibility, strength, and balance, which can alleviate joint pain and muscle tension commonly experienced during perimenopause.

  • Emotional Benefits: The practice promotes relaxation and reduces stress, helping to manage mood swings, anxiety, and depression.

 

Pilates

  • Core Strength: Pilates focuses on strengthening the core muscles, which can improve posture and reduce back pain and other musculoskeletal discomforts.

  • Stress Reduction: The mindful movement and breathing techniques in Pilates promote relaxation and stress relief, helping to manage anxiety and mood swings. –

  • Flexibility and Balance: Improved flexibility and balance can reduce the risk of falls and injuries, important as bone density decreases.

 

Meditation

  • Mindfulness: Meditation encourages mindfulness, which can help manage the emotional rollercoaster of perimenopause by promoting acceptance and reducing emotional reactivity.

  • Stress Hormones: Regular meditation lowers cortisol levels, reducing overall stress and its physical manifestations, such as heart palpitations and sleep disturbances. –

  • Sleep Improvement: It can also improve sleep quality by calming the mind and reducing insomnia.

 

Breathing Exercises

  • Calm the Nervous System: Deep breathing techniques activate the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation and reducing stress.

  • Hot Flash Management: Controlled breathing can help manage hot flashes by reducing their intensity and frequency.

  • Anxiety Reduction: Breathing exercises can quickly reduce feelings of anxiety and panic.

 

Self-Kindness and Self-Compassion

  • Emotional Resilience: Practicing self-kindness and self-compassion helps in building emotional resilience, which is crucial during the emotionally turbulent times of perimenopause.

  • Reduce Self-Criticism: These practices help reduce self-criticism and promote a more positive outlook, mitigating feelings of depression and anxiety.

  • Improved Relationships: By fostering a kinder relationship with oneself, interpersonal relationships often improve, providing additional emotional support.

 

Therapy

  • Professional Guidance: Therapy provides a professional space to explore and address specific emotional and psychological challenges associated with perimenopause.

  • Cognitive Behavioural Techniques: Therapists can offer techniques like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help manage negative thought patterns and behaviours.

  • Support and Validation: Therapy offers a supportive environment to discuss symptoms and feelings, providing validation and strategies for coping.

 

Incorporating these stress reduction activities into daily routines can create a holistic approach to managing perimenopause symptoms, improving both quality of life and overall well-being.

 

Consult Healthcare Providers 

Regular health check-ups are essential for monitoring overall health and addressing any underlying medical conditions that may exacerbate perimenopause symptoms. This includes routine screenings for conditions like osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and, if you are taking HRT, it is important to have regular reviews with your GP.

 

Keep a symptom diary

Track your daily symptoms in a diary or journal. Note the severity, frequency, and any potential triggers (like diet, stress, or sleep patterns). This can help you and your healthcare provider identify patterns and better understand what’s happening with your body. Regularly reviewing this diary can also help you recognise the onset of new symptoms and manage them more effectively.


Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. There is support available for you. You can join my free Facebook Group, Kicking Perimenopause in the Arse and share your experiences, ask questions, and support each other. Let’s navigate perimenopause together with understanding and strength.

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