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What are the symptoms of perimenopause?

It is thought that 75% of women will experience symptoms during their menopause, which can have an impact on both their home and work lives.

The different symptoms can vary between women as well as their severity, frequency and duration. For some women they can sail through in just a few months, for other they can be severe and can go on for decades. Factors such as genetics, diet, lifestyle and stress load can all play a part.

Common symptoms can include:

Period changes: This is often the first sign. Periods can fluctuate becoming heavier or lighter and the cycles can become longer or shorter before stopping completely.

Hot flushes: This is the most common symptom of all, and the one most often associated with menopause, however it is thought that 25% of women do not experience them. They can be experienced at any time of day lasting for just a moment or several minutes. They can also be accompanied by sweating, dizziness or even heart palpitations.

Night sweats: Night sweats can be disruptive to sleep for women as well as their partners leading to fatigue and low mood. Many women find they wake up soaked in sweat and have to change their night wear and / or bed clothes.

Fatigue and poor sleep: This can be related to night sweats as mentioned above, but women may start to feel more tired during the day even if their sleep is not affected.

Brain fog: A feeling that the brain is like "cotton wool", memory being affected or having poor concentration. This can be a real challenge at work but it can also affect simple daily tasks like reading, remembering words, why you have walked up the stairs etc.

Mood changes: Mood changes are more common if a woman has previously had premenstrual syndrome. They can affect relationships at home and work and women can feel less sociable than they have in the past.

Worsening headaches / migraines: Women who suffer from migraines may find they become more severe and closer together during menopause.

Joint pains: Low levels of oestrogen can cause joint aches and pains as oestrogen is important for providing lubrication in the joints and reducing inflammation.

Hair and skin changes: Low levels of oestrogen can lead to reduced elasticity, fine lines and dryness as it is an important hormone for building collagen - the protein that protects the structure of the skin. Skin can become itchier and some women can experience a feeling of crawling under their skin known as formication. Changing hormones can also make the hair thinner and less shiny and can cause acne and increased facial hair growth.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above or any other symptoms that you think may be connected with your hormones then you do not need to suffer in silence. It is important to get in touch with a health professional, ideally a perimenopause or menopause specialist, who can talk through ALL of the available options so that you can make an informed choice based on your individual circumstances.

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