Peri-Menopausal Symptoms

Symptoms List

  • Hot flashes - be prepared for overheating at a moment's notice. These can be especially bad at night. Occasionally, these are accompanied by nausea.
  • Sweats - Usually these follow the hot flashes as your body cools back down.
  • Irregular bleeding - periods which can last a few days but come and go at irregular intervals, sometimes months apart. Estrogen is giving up the ghost...slowly!
  • Facial hair - these appear out of nowhere, often overnight, usually on your upper lip or chin. it is worth buying a 10x magnifier to spot them - be prepared for a shock the first time you use it - you may discover you have a moustache!
  • Sleeplessness - closely linked to the hot flashes. You may spend a lot less time sleeping peacefully because body temperature will be causing you to wake up a lot more. You will get a bit more fatigued a bit more quickly.
  • Weight gain - extra pounds seem to appear from nowhere. Your eating habits have not changed, only your waistline.

What is the Peri-Menopause?

Women go through a variety of physical changes during their lifetimes.

The peri-menopause is that period of time between menstruation and menopause.

It is a transition between being fertile and able to have children and being physically beyond child bearing.

The peri-menopause can be of short duration; indeed it varies from woman to woman, but for some women (me included), it can seem never ending.

It is not unusual for the peri-menopause to last up to a decade.

The peri-menopause is caused by the physical changes brought about by hormonal changes.

Estrogen and Progesteron are no longer being produced at the levels they were when we were young and in our prime.

Instead, a woman's body begins the peri-menopausal phase and starts to get some or all of the symptoms listed below.

We should not all look at it with a sense of dread - it does vary from person to person and you may not get all of the symptoms.

I hope this light hearted look at the peri-menopausal symptoms will help you to understand it a little bit more and learn how you can cope with your own issues.

Peri menopausal hair growth - not usually this bad!
Peri menopausal hair growth - not usually this bad! | Source
Tweezers - keep them handy (but wear your glasses if you use them)
Tweezers - keep them handy (but wear your glasses if you use them) | Source

"But I Don't Want to Be The Bearded Lady!"

I include the photo as a way to make you smile and not to put any fear into you.

Why do women start growing extra hair in the perimenopause?

The main reason is that your estrogen levels are falling and can no longer compete with androgen (testosterone). Androgens cause hair growth.

How to prevent hair growth?

  • Eat healthily! Cut down on complex carbohydrate. Estrogen is a hormone closely linked with the production and use of insulin in the body. If you eat too much carbohydrate, your body will burn fat more slowly and produce too much insulin which in turn produced more androgens.
  • Estrogen is known to work in tandem with insulin; scientists have claimed that the fall in estrogen as women get older is one of the main reasons for weight gain so a dietary change to less carbohydrate could help with two of the symptoms - facial hair growth and weight gain.
  • Keep your tweezers handy or buy some wax strips or hair removal cream if the problem is bad. Try not to stress too much about this; it is a transitional phase and will pass in time. Remain vigilant, check your mirror once a week or so and get those tweezers pulling!

Definitely worth purchasing a fan
Definitely worth purchasing a fan | Source
A portable version
A portable version | Source
Portable version (with batteries)
Portable version (with batteries)

Hot Flashes / Cold Sweats/Sleeplessness

Most women will have both hot flashes and cold sweats during the peri menopause.

The temperature around you will just seem to rise for no reason - even outside.

Of course, it is not the external temperature which has changed but your own body temperature.

Why Does Your Body Temperature Change During Peri Menopause?

The technical term for hot flashes (or flushes) is 'vasomotor' symptoms and at the root of all hot flashes is estrogen. Yup, estrogen is pretty much to blame for most of this!

That is why hormone replacement therapy often stops the hot flashes altogether.

Hot flashes can last a few seconds or up to five minutes and also result in facial flushing, facial sweating and occasionally blotchy patches on the neck and chest.

They can be rather inconvenient if you are at a public event but there is no way to ease them other than using a stand up, desk or ceiling fan if you are indoors.

Alternatively, you could go for a rather fine looking Spanish or Mexican fan or take the lazy route and buy a battery operated hand fan.

Hot flushes are often worse at night and you can wake up in a hot sweat and feel like you are sleeping in a furnace. The easiest way to counteract night sweats is by using the right nightwear or keeping a window open or using a fan.

Sleeping alongside your red hot (literally) partner can exacerbate the problem so try to keep your distance - you can cuddle back up once your cold sweat kicks in!

Another symptom, sleeplessness is a direct result of both hot flashes and cold sweats but should NOT be a result of stressful thoughts at night about your newly sprouted facial hair!

If you recognise that you are feeling more tired, get an early night or try to take a cat nap through the day (this is called a 'power' nap if you fall asleep at work).

More Belly Fat - Common in peri-menopause, due to less estrogen.
More Belly Fat - Common in peri-menopause, due to less estrogen. | Source

Weight Gain

Estrogen, the hormone which in peri-menopause is actually falling continues to baffle scientists.

Some claim that estrogen can cause weight loss, whilst others suggest it can also cause weight gain.

One thing is certain about estrogen - it does not work alone!

Estrogen is a hormone which does a variety of different jobs in various parts of the body.

In peri-menopause, it is being produced in smaller quantities and so some of the work it does slows down.

Nutritionalists and scientists have found that estrogen in large amounts can support the development of lean muscle and actually helps to reduce the amount of fat which accumulates in the midriff area and hips.

In peri-menopausal women, estrogen levels are depleted and so that ability to shift belly fat is reduced.

Nine times out of ten, anyone gaining weight during peri-menopause gains it around the belly area first, although some, unfortunately, do see weight gain on other areas.

Because of its relationship with insulin - estrogen reduction can be offset by trying to avoid or reduce complex carbohydrates - rice, pasta, bread, sugar.

However, nothing is ever that simple - estrogen does not act the same way for every woman - its relationship with the thyroid gland can cause other problems involving the metabolism. Its hormonal properties also work with the liver, the brain and muscles among other body areas (annoying but clever little hormone).

Estrogen does a lot of work in the female body and it might be that you will have to trial a few different ways to lose the weight if it is bothering you.

But remember - it is normal to gain weight during the peri-menopause - you could see your GP for advice at any time if your own attempts to lose weight fail.

Irregular Bleeding

This will be one of the most annoying symptoms.

It will happen when it happens and you will have no control over it.

You may have a period in June and then not have another one until December OR you may have one in June, July.....September.....March (twice).

You get the picture?

There is not really a great deal you can do about irregular bleeding other than be prepared for it wherever you are. Carry tampons/pads in your purse with painkillers for cramps if you need them.

The type of bleeding you usually had may completely change - you may suddenly be a lot lighter and it may only happen for a day or two.

Part of you will think this is great especially if you have been used to heavy periods but another part of you will dislike the unpredictable nature of irregular bleeding.

One thing worth considering is to keep a diary and marking down when the period occurred and also some general notes about what it was like - heavy/light, painful/not painful and how long it lasted.

This way you are monitoring your body and might spot patterns, albeit over a number of months or years.

Hormone replacement can be a good way to sort out this peri menopausal symptom - it's a way of faking the production of hormones and can reintroduce some predictability.

Symptom
Feels like....
How to counteract it
Hot flash
Temperature has risen suddenly for no reason, happens Summer AND Winter. Often occurs at night when you are asleep
Wear thinner night attire and ensure your duvet/bed covers are suitable . Wear layers during the day. if you get hot, you can strip off the layers.
Cold Sweats
They happen after a hot flash and your body gets cold really quickly.
See above - cover back up! Re-clothe!
Facial Hair
Chin whiskers or hairs on upper lip, often more coarse or wiry than normal
Tweezers, facial hair remover, wax or electrolysis
Weight Gain
Added pounds, typically around the middle but could spread depending on your body type
Eat less complex carbohydrate to stunt insulin production. Diet if necessary but try to cut down carbs first, this may work immediately.
Irregular Periods
The usual but often lighter and can happen any time but sporadically over months
You cannot counteract it naturally - you could ask for HRT if this becomes a day to day problem

Do you have peri menopausal symptoms?

See results without voting

Don't Panic- It's Not The End of the World

One of the most aggravating things about being perimenopausal is the not knowing.

It is a transition - the beginning of a hormonal change in your body.

Usually, it begins in your late-forties or early fifties but as I have said a number of times, women are all different and what begins for one at forty six might not begin until fifty three for another.

But hey, don't panic! Most people don't like change but like all change, in time, you get used to it.

You will learn to read your own body for signs - your first hot flash comes out of the blue but then you keep having them. The bad news is, sometimes they stop and then start again.

Your irregular periods will actually annoy you because they once came like clockwork but hey, it's less aggro less of the time!

The weight gain can be managed if you are so inclined but again, it is a sign of your body changing and eventually, things will settle down again though it might mean some dieting.

Like all change - you learn to live with it and you also learn to manage it so that it does not disrupt your life too much. Being peri menopausal is a reminder that you are human and above all, you are a woman and being a woman has its own challenges.

I hope you have enjoyed this article and that you no longer feel like the only person sitting fanning yourself in a pool of your own sweat whilst eating a diet sandwich in the park...it'll be over soon and you'll officially be in 'the menopause'....and a whole new adventure begins!


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39 comments

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 2 years ago from North-East UK Author

burnish, many thanks for your kind comment. I maybe completed my formal education at 39, but I am still always learning.


ubrish profile image

ubrish 2 years ago from Pakistan(Asia)

You completed your education at the age of 39......that's great,your articles are so informative.please keep it up


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 2 years ago from North-East UK Author

Barbara, many thanks for your comment - I'm still in the throes...starting to get on my nerves now!


b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 2 years ago

A Wonderful and TRUTHFUL and Helpful Hub Jools...Having gone through it, and lived through it, and so GRATEFUL not to have anymore PERIODS (best kept secret). You've covered it all.

I'm giving this Hub a VOTE of UP, & USEFUL.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 2 years ago from California

Amen!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Victoria, hello again :o) I am fed up with it to be honest - it is seeming to last a long,long time. We've had a warm summer (for a change) this year in England and sleeping has been pure torture...so hot!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

Hey, Jools! Long time, no see! Great hub. Sometimes I wonder if I'm getting there. This is great info to have for when it happens!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Thelyricwriter, many thanks for your kind comment - I am still in the throes of most of the symptoms but I live in hope of it being over soon :)


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 3 years ago from West Virginia

Julie, very informative article. I'm sure this will benefit many others. Voted up, useful, interesting, and shared.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Theresa, many thanks for reading and commenting (and sharing!). Here in the UK, we are, for a change, enjoying some sunshine and it is hot, hot, hot both outdoors an in. I am suffering terribly with hot flashes in this heat and am expecting my hubby to come in from work to find me as a puddle on the floor soon :o)


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Jools - This is an excellent article. You have covered all the bases in a thorough and no-nonsense way. My peri-menopause lasted about four years and ended about six years ago. I had moderate symptoms not the best and not the worst, but it does eventually pass. Wish I had read this when all the changes first began - I would have been a lot less stressed. Good article. Sharing. Hope you are having a great weekend. Theresa


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Velur, glad you found it useful. Many thanks for reading.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Thanks Audrey!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Michelle, as with all things - not everyone is affected and sometimes only slightly affected but you're right, exercise, diet, nutrition and then....keeping your fingers crossed :o)


Vellur profile image

Vellur 3 years ago from Dubai

Useful and informative hub about menopause. Thank you for sharing.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 3 years ago from California

Great article Jools!


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

Wow, this is scary for a lady!! That's why we should have proper diet and exercise. Thanks for sharing!!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

Hi Jools, oh I remember it well! not quite the bearded lady though! lol! seriously I had this problem with a thyroid problem on top! I didn't know where one started and the other one finished! now, fingers crossed, I have finished it all, but the weight around my waist is driving me insane! voted up and shared, nell


Healthyannie profile image

Healthyannie 3 years ago from Spain

HRT does not treat irregular periods so does therefore not really offer a lot of help. As a ma tter of fact it is hazardous to use HRT during the peri menopause. It is a matter of adjusting hormone levels and this can easily be achieved by using low dose contraceptive pill such as Yasmin or Loesterin 30. If you are under fifty when you enter the peri menopause and do not have another other health issues using a low dosage oral contraceptive is one of the most effective way to deal with the peri menopause. The average time for the peri menopause is three years and symptoms can be severe but are treatable by a specialist. Find a medical doctor with a Masters in Gynaecology or Endocrinology.

If you treat the peri menopause you will have (hopefully) a much easier menopause. There are also natural options available but the medical attention must be sought for this condition - it is a serious problem.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Wow - so romance is dead! But I tell ya, I am not normally vain but now spend a bit more time in front of the mirror with my specs on (can't see the little blighters otherwise). If hubby has noticed any hairs, he has not let on - maybe because he knows I would read him the riot act...or hit him over the head with a frying pan (I always carry one with me in case of such emergencies) :o)


willowlane profile image

willowlane 3 years ago from South East

Jools99. Crack me up with the foo man choo! Yup I have a few hairs myself that I get a hold off. My ex one time said riding in the car," the way the sun is shining on your face.....(wait for it)....makes me see all the whiskers on your chin!" And I was thinking he was going to say something romantic!!!!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Willowlake - yup, I started my hot flashes at about 46 and then they stopped for a year and came back again - got the lot now - flashes, sweats, sleeplessness, fatigue and only the tweezers are stopping me getting the nick name 'foo man choo' :o).....but in time, all things will pass!


willowlane profile image

willowlane 3 years ago from South East

Oh joy! Already getting hot flashes at 45! Feels like I am going to self combust. Lol


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Annie, I was referring to HRT (hormone replacement therapy) which you can get through your GP in the UK - basically they give you pills to rebalance your hormones that are being depleted. Many thanks for your comment.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Dianna, thanks for your kind comment - mine seems to be lasting forever! What a pain! Sick of the hot flashes at the moment :o(


Healthyannie profile image

Healthyannie 3 years ago from Spain

Interesting article and I notice that you mention hormone replacement. I would be really interested to know what you mean when you refer to hormone replacement?


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

I remember this stage, if I only had your information back then it would have helped tremendously! This is an excellent post and very helpful to many, I am sure.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

peachpurple, this hub is about 'peri' menopause, the transitional stage before menopause. The short answer to your question is that the menopause is usually accepted to have started once you have had no menstruation for at least 24 months.


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

thanks for sharing the tips and symptoms. When does menopuase starts? In the mid 50's or 60's years of age? My mom told me that hers was in the 60's. She had hot flushes and her temper was bad then. I need to bookmark this page in case when i reach that stage. Voted useful


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Pamela, thanks so much for your kind comment and for the share too! My friend is in the same position as you, having had a hysterectomy due to cancer but she still gets occasional symptoms in spite of this. Buying a 10x magnifier was a shocker to me!!! I bought tweezers at the same time!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Linda, Woo Hoo, only some symptoms, you lucky devil - my night time hot flashes are making my sleep pretty erratic at the moment and I am a bit grouchy :o( It is sunny and warm in my little bit of England today, lord knows how I would cope with Orlando (though, as you know, i do LOVE your home town).


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Jackie - thanks for your comment. I did originally include loss of libido but thought that I would have had to keep watching my way of saying what I meant and was mindful of Saint Hubpages sending me an email asking me to remove the S word etc etc so I decided against including it. Thanks for the info re: sweet potatoes, I need no encouragement to eat them, I love em.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States

This is a very thorough hub with a lot of great information. I have been fortunate as I have only had a few symptoms, but that is because I had a total hysterectomy including ovaries. This is such an informative hub that I vote it up and I am sharing it.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

Put me down for 3 symptoms. I sleep well and haven't had a hot flash...hopefully I never will, then again I do yard work in 95* temps so I give myself hot flashes :)


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

Sweet potatoes is an excellent food to help with this! A fact many don't mention too about estrogen is it is bad for the eyes to make them very sensitive to light, causing damage. So if it were me I would use the OTC natural ones. I will never go through this but went through surgery causing an early onslaught which let me learn all these things by trial and error. You have covered everything well I think except for that don't touch me feeling! lol


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Not always Deb! I have been peri-menopausal for about 3 years now - hoping it gets better soon, sick of the hot flashes :o)


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 3 years ago from Iowa

Ugh. Don't like hearing this could last for a decade! : )


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Billy - Aw, you're such a sweetheart to show up and read this - thanks for passing on to Bev, she'll probably recognise some of this stuff. :o)


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Well, Julie, I'm not sure why I'm here. LOL Oh yes, I remember, to suppot you! :)

I'll pass this along to Bev since obviously I am out of my element here, but it is interesting to read about. Knowledge is power, right?

Good job as always....your writer's voice shines through all of your works.

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