First signs of perimenopause and natural remedies
Menopause is a well-known term among women, but it often refers to a phase called perimenopause.
Perimenopause is the period when a woman experiences menopausal symptoms until her last menstruation. This transitional phase is characterized by changing hormone levels and various symptoms, even though periods have not ceased yet.
The onset of perimenopause varies among women, and it can begin in their 30s, 40s, or later. In Australia, the average age for menopause is 51, but many women may experience perimenopause earlier.
To prepare for perimenopause and its potential effects on both the body and mind, it is essential to understand its causes, signs, and remedies.
In this article, we delve deeper into perimenopause, its triggers, the initial symptoms to watch out for, and natural solutions to alleviate perimenopause symptoms.
What are the first signs of perimenopause?
Commonly, the initial indication of perimenopause is an irregularity in the menstrual cycle. Some of the changes you may notice include:
- Periods starting earlier or later than usual (irregular periods)
- Skipping periods entirely
- Experiencing heavier or lighter periods than usual
- Suddenly stopping periods
These menstrual cycle changes happen due to fluctuations in ovulation and alterations in the production of estrogen by the ovaries.
What are the symptoms?
Every woman goes through perimenopause, a completely natural stage of life, but the timing and symptoms may vary from person to person.
Perimenopause symptoms are caused by hormonal changes and can start months or years before periods stop completely. These symptoms can have a significant impact on daily life, including relationships, family, social and work life.
Although everyone's experience is different, typical physical symptoms of perimenopause include:
- Irregular menstrual cycles or changes in menstrual patterns
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Sleep difficulties
- Joint and muscle pain
- Vaginal dryness
- Headaches and migraines
- Discomfort or pain during sex
- Skin changes like dry and itchy skin
- Weight gain or changes in body shape
- Bladder problems or incontinence
- Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Additionally, there are several symptoms that can affect emotions, feelings, and mental health, such as:
- Mood changes like anxiety, low mood, irritability, and low self-esteem
- Mood swings
- Difficulty with memory or concentration, also known as brain fog
- Reduced sex drive or a loss of interest in sex (libido)
How long do perimenopause symptoms last?
Perimenopause symptoms are unique to every woman. They can persist for several months or even years, and may progress, regress, or transform over time.
Although some symptoms, such as vaginal dryness and joint and muscle pain, can persist even after menstruation has stopped completely, most perimenopause symptoms decrease or disappear after menopause.
Therefore, it's important to manage your symptoms and maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout your perimenopause journey.
What triggers perimenopause?
There are several additional factors that could impact when perimenopause starts:
Surgeries or cancer treatment
Surgery and cancer treatments can sometimes bring on the sudden onset of menopausal symptoms, which can be more severe in some cases. This is known as surgical menopause.
During surgical menopause, menopause occurs suddenly after certain types of surgical procedures, such as ovary surgery or hysterectomy surgery. It's important to know that surgical menopause can bring its own set of challenges and symptoms that differ from natural menopause. For more information about menopause after hysterectomy surgery, check out our Menopause after Hysterectomy FAQs.
Perimenopause can affect women at different ages, but those with a family history of early menopause may experience symptoms earlier. It can be helpful to find out when your mother or older sisters first experienced perimenopause 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 initially feel daunting, it's important to remember that your daily life doesn't have to come to a standstill just because you've entered this natural stage. The outlook for managing perimenopause symptoms is positive, and there are numerous natural remedies that can be used to alleviate them, including:
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
Perimenopause can cause dryness, itchiness, or discomfort in your vulva, making sex uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are natural remedies that can help ease these symptoms. You can try using natural moisturizers to relieve vaginal dryness and water-based lubricants to make intimacy more comfortable.
Our natural vaginal moisturizer is a gentle and long-lasting solution that rapidly relieves vaginal atrophy and dryness. It soothes irritation, burning, and itching, while moisturizing and soothing dry and sensitive vaginal tissues.
Using water-based organic lubricant can also provide natural hydration while replenishing your body's natural moisture. It has a pH-balanced formula that enhances your sexual pleasure and sensitivity, making it an ideal 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.