Perimenopause: First signs of perimenopause and natural remedies
First signs of perimenopause and natural remedies
Many women have likely heard of menopause and are aware of what associated changes they can expect their bodies to go through.
However, often when we discuss going through the menopause, we are in fact talking about reaching a stage known as perimenopause.
Perimenopause is the time from when a woman starts to experience menopausal symptoms until she has experienced her last period. Perimenopause brings with it a host of symptoms due to hormone levels beginning to change, but before periods fully stop.
Women start perimenopause at different ages. While the average age for a woman to reach menopause in the UK is 51, some women notice perimenopausal symptoms in their 40s or as early as their mid-30s.
It is important to know what to expect from perimenopause and what impact this natural stage can have both physically and psychologically.
Here we look in more detail at perimenopause, why it happens, its first signs, and the natural remedies to relieve perimenopause symptoms.
What are the first signs of perimenopause?
Typically, the first sign of perimenopause is a disruption to your menstrual cycle, such as:
- Your period starting earlier or later than normal (irregular periods)
- You start to skip months entirely
- You experience heavier or lighter periods than usual
- Your periods stop suddenly
The disruption to periods is caused by the ovaries beginning to fluctuate in their ovulation and alterations in their production of oestrogen.
What are the symptoms?
Perimenopause is a completely natural stage that women experience, however, the timing and symptoms differ for everyone.
The symptoms of perimenopause are caused by hormonal changes, and usually start months or years before your periods stop completely. These can have a significant impact on your daily life, including relationships, family, social and work life.
Everyone’s experience will vary, but common physical symptoms of perimenopause include:
- Disruption/ changes in your menstrual cycle
- hot flushes and night sweats
- Difficulty sleeping
- Joint and muscle pain
- Vaginal dryness
- Headaches and migraines
- Itching, discomfort or pain during sex
- Skin changes such as dry and itchy skin
- Weight gain/changes in body shape
- Bladder problems/incontinence
- Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
There are also several symptoms that can affect your feelings, emotions, and mental health, including:
- Mood changes, such as low mood, anxiety, irritability, and low self-esteem
- Experiencing mood swings
- Difficulty with memory or concentration (brain fog)
- A loss of interest in sex/reduced sex drive (libido)
How long do perimenopause symptoms last?
Women’s experience of perimenopause symptoms will differ. Symptoms can last for months or years, and can also improve, develop, or change over time.
There are also some symptoms that can continue once your periods fully stop, such as vaginal dryness and joint and muscle pain.
What triggers perimenopause?
There are several additional factors that could impact when perimenopause starts:
Surgeries or cancer treatment
Certain surgeries, such as ovary surgery and cancer treatments, including chemotherapy or pelvic radiation therapy, can sometimes cause the sudden onset of symptoms which can be more severe in some cases.
The early onset of menopause can be triggered following certain types of surgical procedures, such as hysterectomy surgery. Find out more in Menopause after hysterectomy FAQs.
Women with a family history of early menopause may experience early perimenopause symptoms themselves, so it is useful to explore when your mother or any older sisters first experienced their symptoms.
There is a link between early onset menopause happening 1 -2 years earlier in women who smoke compared to women who don’t smoke.
Natural remedies to relieve perimenopause symptoms
While the symptoms of perimenopause can at first seem overwhelming, daily life doesn’t have to be put on hold because you have reached this natural stage.
The outlook for managing the symptoms of perimenopause is positive, and there’s a host of natural remedies that can be used to relieve your symptoms, such as:
Over-the-counter natural supplements
There are several licensed herbal supplements available to buy from health food shops that contain natural ingredients thought to help balance hormones, including:
- Black cohosh
- Red clover
- Soya isoflavones
- Sage leaf
- Ginkgo biloba
- John’s Wort
- Korean Ginseng
- Evening primrose oil
- Fish oil
Natural moisturisers and lubricants
Your vulva may become dry and itchy or you may experience discomfort during sex as a result of your perimenopause symptoms.
To help ease symptoms, using natural moisturisers to relieve vaginal dryness and trying water-based lubricants can make intimacy more comfortable.
Our natural vaginal moisturiser is gentle and provides long-lasting rehydration to rapidly relieve vaginal atrophy and dryness. It alleviates irritation, burning and itching and it is a completely natural way to moisturise and soothe dry and sensitive vaginal tissues.
Using water-based organic lubricant can feel natural and hydrating while providing a pH-balanced formula to replenish your natural moisture. This will enhance your sexual pleasure and sensitivity but acts as a perfect substitute for your body’s own lubrication.
Making healthy lifestyle choices and incorporating foods into your diet that are rich in phytoestrogen could help with perimenopause symptoms.
Examples of foods containing phytoestrogen include:
- Soya (milk, flour)
- Linseed/flaxseed (crushed/ground)
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Green beans
Discover more solutions in our blog: Natural alternatives to HRT for menopausal symptom relief.
If you think you are starting perimenopause, seek medical advice from your GP or nurse.