If you’re in your mid-30s to early 40s and noticing hormonal shifts, you might be entering the perimenopausal years. This stage often brings surprising changes, which can be disconcerting if you’re unprepared. In this blog, I’ll share with you 6 signs of perimenopause, that I see most regularly in my hormone clinic.
Early Signs of Perimenopause: What is going on?
From around 35 years of age, ovarian function begins to slow and we begin to move into those early perimenopausal years. Perimenopause tends to be a time of flux, there are a lot of hormonal fluctuations, and so symptoms can be random, intense and different day to day, month to month.
That is because progesterone, our lovely calming hormone, falls away first, and we end up in a state of oestrogen dominance and as we move through perimenopause, oestrogen begins fluctuating and we can have both high and low levels of oestrogen. That can result in quite a tumultuous time.
Signs of Perimenopause: What You Might Expect to See:
1. Period changes
You might find that your period arrives a little earlier or a little later, or it might change monthly. You might also find the flow changes, the heavier days may become heavier, and you may have more of them, and the light days may become lighter, and sometimes rather than having a clean stop, you might have a few days of spotting or discharge at the end of your period. You might also find that you are getting new or more intense symptoms with your periods like breast tenderness, bloating, cramping, backache or more clots – more of them, bigger, or painful passing of clots. This is where tracking your cycle and symptoms is really useful.
Another sign you might be entering perimenopause is mood changes, particularly in the week leading up to the period. It might be that you are more tearful, or angrier, or more irritated over the things that wouldn’t normally bother you. It might be that you have always struggled with PMS, but now it is just a lot more heightened, or it might be lasting longer.
With perimenopause, and the loss of the calming hormone progesterone, you may see an increase in anxiety. You might find yourself overthinking or suddenly worrying about things that never used to bother you like driving, and it might come with physical symptoms like tightness in the chest or palpitations. It can happen at any time of the month, but most commonly it’s seen at ovulation or before the period.
4. Sleep problems
The other thing that is influenced by progesterone is sleep, so you might yourself suddenly not sleeping so well. And of course, if you are not sleeping well, that is not going to help any issues like mood changes and anxiety. Equally mood issues and anxiety will increase your stress hormones, which will impact your ability to sleep. So it can become a vicious cycle.
5. Loss of libido
Libido for many perimenopausal women seems to go AWOL. On the one hand, we are reaching the end of fertility so perhaps the brain doesn’t see it as important anymore, but more so women get to this point of life, having given all of themselves away to everyone else, and they are just exhausted. There is nothing left in the adrenal tank, right at the point, when those glands take over the role of making your oestrogen and progesterone.
6. Weight gain
Weight gain may be the other tell-tale sign you are in perimenopause – and more than weight gain, it is that your usual methods of losing weight and keeping it off, just don’t work anymore. What we can see is in an oestrogen-dominant state, weight on the hips, thighs, breasts, and back. And with the loss of oestrogen, belly fat due to blood sugar issues and less stress resilience.
There are a lot of tools at hand for managing these signs of perimenopause. Awareness and recognition of what is going on in your body is a great place to start. My YouTube channel is also full of educational videos to help you out.
But if you need more help, book a discovery call and let’s have a chat about how we can get you feeling like your best self again.