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What is perimenopause?


We don’t just wake up one day in menopause. It’s a slow, progressive transition known as perimenopause.


During this time, we experience a decline in the production of sex hormones, particularly estrogen.


It’s this decline in estrogen which contributes to many of the common symptoms associated with the menopause transition including:


-       Hot flushes

-       Night sweats

-       Mood swings

-       Sleep disturbances

-       Increased appetite

-       Changes in body composition

-       Joint pain or stiffness

-       Fatigue

-       Headaches

-       Difficulty concentrating

-       Urinary incontinence


And this is just to name a few!


In some cases, women can start to experience symptoms of perimenopause in their 30s. Typically however, it will start to happen in our 40s or early 50s.


It can be difficult to determine if we’re experiencing symptoms of perimenopause or if life’s just getting in the way. For example, have you been feeling stressed and irritable because of fluctuating hormones? Or it is because you’ve got a busy job, you’re running around after the kids and struggling to get a good night’s sleep?


This is why it’s so important to be in tune with your menstrual cycle – this is likely to be one of the first places you start to notice changes.


Your cycle may become shorter or longer, bleeding may become lighter or heavier and you may have months where you don’t have a period at all.


If you’re not already doing so, make sure you’re tracking your cycle so you can spot anything unusual. There are lots of free apps out there which also help you to track any symptoms you experience throughout the month.


Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to “officially” determine if a woman is perimenopausal. Hormone levels fluctuate significantly during perimenopause and it’s often not until we’re very close to menopause that these changes show up reliably in blood tests.


The good news is that there are a number of lifestyle changes we can make, including following a healthy diet and doing regular exercise which can all help to alleviate symptoms of perimenopause.


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