Symptoms of Perimenopause Symptoms of Menopause

by Magnolia on November 17, 2013

symptomsignI thought it would be appropriate – and helpful – to follow up on a recent post I did on the difference between perimenopause and menopause and provide a list of the symptoms associated with each. Though the terms are often (and I’m guilty of the same) used interchangeably, they are not the same thing.

Perimenopause is a transitional period a woman goes through where her estrogen and progesterone levels are fluctuating until she becomes fully menopausal.

During perimenopause, her ovaries will produce less and less progesterone and estrogen until she no longer has a menstrual cycle.  A woman is said to be menopausal once she has gone twelve consecutive months without a menstrual cycle.

Both perimenopause and menopause have very distinct and unique symptoms and health issues associated with them. But, I think it should be said that “symptoms of menopause” is actually a misnomer.  Menopause is simply a time of life with no actual symptoms. There are certain health issues and concerns which are associated with menopause, but frankly, this could be said for men as well.

An increased risk of prostate cancer as men age is not a symptom of an aging man. It is simply a health issue that some men face as they age.  Likewise with menopause, the “symptoms” of menopause are nothing more than health issues that some women face once they reach actual menopause.

35 Symptoms of Perimenopause

There are approximately 35 symptoms associated with perimenopause, and most women will experience at least a few of them.  However, not every woman will experience every symptom, neither will every woman experience them to the same degree.

Most women experience hot flashes and night sweats  during perimenopause, but heart palpitations, vertigo and dizziness, irritability, mood swings, and insomnia are also quite common as well.

Irregular periods which are shorter, longer, heavier, or even scant can be expected, along with vaginal dryness, loss of libido, crashing fatigue, anxiety, and feelings of dread and doom.

A lot of women experience brain fog and short-term memory issues when they begin going through perimenopause, with difficulty concentrating and mental confusion.

Urinary incontinence occurs for a lot of women as well, especially upon sneezing or laughing. Some women complain of itchy, crawly skin, aching, sore joints, and even gastrointestinal distress with gas pain, nausea, and bouts of bloat.

Breast tenderness, weight gain, hair loss or thinning, changes in body odor, gum problems, bad taste in the mouth, breath odor, and for some women tinnitus and ringing in the ears, are all symptoms of perimenopause.

Health Risks & Issues in Menopause

Once a woman reaches actual menopause, her ovaries are no longer producing enough progesterone and estrogen to support monthly menstrual cycles. While most women find menopause to be a wonderful, peaceful time of life, the low estrogen levels common in menopause can put many women at a higher risk for a number of health issues such as osteoporosis, bone and joint degeneration, and chronic depression.

Some women even continue to have hot flashes and night sweats once they reach menopause, which is also attributed to low estrogen,hotflashpepper along with continued issues with brain fog and short-term memory loss.  Vaginal atrophy, a condition marked by a thinning of vaginal walls, and loss of tone of vaginal tissue, is extremely common for women in menopause, and is also directly connected to low estrogen.

Some women choose hormone therapy to help them manage the symptoms of perimenopause. Others, like myself, choose to continue hormone therapy once they reach actual menopause.

Many women also find that adjusting their diet and staying physically active helps them manage symptoms and maintain a good quality of life once they reach actual menopause. Like every health decision, it is a highly personal choice.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

james November 22, 2013 at 3:23 pm

I was in a relationship for a year with a perimenopausal lady despite seemingly deeply in love with me after 8 months into the relationship she seemed to have gone of sex and me. She said that she had no libido. I also noticed that she was also cold towards me and quite moody. We tried to keep the relationship going and she said that she still loved me. On our anniversary she finished the relationship. I wonder if her behaviour could be about the perimenopause.

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Abhraloha December 3, 2013 at 4:33 am

Hello MAGNOLIA,

It is really a worthy blog to read, you know even i was not aware about such issues in women and i dont know what is the main reason behind my problems. Really thanks a lot bottom of my heart to explain the difference between perimenopause and menopause.

Thank You,
Stacey Hudson

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Dianne Gardiner December 8, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Guys, I am both being treated for Helicobactor unsuccessfully with antibiotics and now face having a endescope procedure whilst trying to get my UK GP to take my perimenopuase symptoms seriously. I have all the other symtoms apart from FSH test was normal. Periods all over the place for over 9 months. Now having Anxiety 24/7 and being treated with diazepam and antidepressants. I am usually a confident outgoing mother of a 5 year old, happy home and work life, no stress factors, 45 yrs old next June 14 and feel that my life has spun out of control. I have asked for some counselling as I so want to help myself and not be on drugs. I am exhausted, can anyone help? Doc suggested Minvera Coil, but will try to get my anxiety ( driven by god know what ) settled first,

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n. January 5, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Dianne, yes anxiety can be due to perimenopause and fluctuating hormones, including cortisol which is a primary stress hormone. Im experiencing this myself, with terrible insomnia, among other symptoms. And, while diazapam helps many people relax and may be appropriate for certain situations, it is part of a family of drugs (benzodiazapenes) that are meant for short term use, so its great you already recognize you dont want to stay on these long term. People can develop tolerance to it after short periods of time, leading to even higher anxiety, panic attacks (with no history of panic attacks) dizziness, etc, and need higher and higher doses to control their symptoms. Your comment struck a chord because I’m watching it happen to someone I love right now after being used as directed for 9 months. It is a serious little drug, and one that can be very hard for the brain to let of of with serious withdrawal consequences. With all due respect to the medical community, it is a medication that is much too easily prescribed. Good luck with your symptoms. After 9 days of nearly no sleep, I understand how easy it would be to take a benzo to help me sleep. But watching what I’m watching in my loved one, I need to find another way. (For more information on benzo’s and why to take them seriously, you can search online for The Ashton Manual, and Melissa Bond benzo. And as a side note, these are not drugs to stop abruptly). Wishing you all good things.

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Kathryn loves Guitar January 26, 2014 at 9:30 am

I would like to leave a comment for Dianne because her symptoms are exactly the same as mine. I have had to really change the way I do things and stop rushing. I was rushing all the time and loved my 40’s most of the time…cheerful most of the time and very motivated at work. In my early 50’s anxiety reared its ugly head and I could not sleep or calm my mind. I practised yoga as much as possible and swam lengths at the Y. Keep up the positive attitude.

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Sarah June 15, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Dianne, I know exactly how you feel! I’m usually bubbly as anything, but not driving ATM due to meds with seizures and low BP so can’t get around! One minute I’m crying my eyes out the next laughing un controllably. I have a coil in too! So sympathise I’ve always tried to be positive! But I need to get my GP to check it next appt as she said it may has disappeared ?! How that happens I do not know! Quite bloody worrying! Magnolia can that happen???

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Heather June 24, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Hi Diane,
My blood tests were “normal” as well, but I could not ignore the tiredness and anxiety I was feeling. I wanted to know how you are feeling now. I hate that I feel like I need to take something to feel better, but I increased my Prozac from 10 mg to 20 per day 2 weeks ago. Yesterday started off kinda rough with anxiety (I’m on the pill and will expect to have my period next week) but today is better. Like you, I am 45 years old and have never really had anxiety issues except for PMS. It’s not a fun place to be, but I am glad there are others who know how I feel and can offer support.

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Susan February 12, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Hello everyone. I’m 39 and in perimenopause. I was diagnosed with SPD back in 2009 after nearly losing my mom (lost dad 10 yrs ago) and was treated and everything was fine until July of 2013. I had gone through a major life change earlier in the year and even though I felt fine I found myself in the er 4 times thinking I was having a heart attack when it was diagnosed as severe anxiety and hormonal imbalance. My mom went through menopause after having me when she was 38 but only had a couple of hot flashes and she was done. I have it all. I have night sweats, hot flashes, my breasts are tender most of the time, it triggered my anxiety, my skin is drier and itches a lot, I have mild dizzy spells, the tingling, heart racing, the cold chills after the hot flashes, you name it I have it and I hate it!! I am on medication to help balance everything since I was also diagnosed with PMDD which I knew I had had for years and now my cycles are closer together and shorter. But the medication doesn’t help everything it’s merely a band aid for some of the symptoms. After a lot of research I discovered acceptance was the first step in being able to manage and live a half way normal life when dealing with all of this. Your not going crazy and you will move past it. I’m blessed because I have an amazing husband who doesn’t try to understand it he holds me, lets me cry, keeps the kids busy when mom needs some “time to herself” and he watched his mother go through this so he’s the best support system which makes all the difference. But I liked what I read on here because it helps to know other women who are experiencing exactly what your going through.

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sue March 13, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Being a hairdresser I listened to a lot of women with some or all of these symptoms. I too have these. I started menopause at 40 and I am now 65. I still have the hot sweats and palpitations etc. My experience was to accept these and I did meditation. I also found living in a cooler climate very beneficial. I was on a hormonal patch for 15 years and on Drs advice went off them. While on the patch I was fine, felt great but when I went off them everything returned worse than ever. I am now considering going back on the patch as I have no ovaries or womb and I believe a happy lifestyle would be better than how I exist now.

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Magnolia March 17, 2014 at 9:56 am

I agree, Sue. If you felt better with some hormones in your body, it stands to reason that going back on the patch or some form of hormone therapy would be beneficial for you.

Magnolia

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Carrie March 22, 2014 at 2:26 pm

I am 56 year young and experiencing most of the issues the ladies have mentioned in their post. What has gotten me frustrated, depressed, and angry is I am Type II diabetic and follow a low-carb diet, exercise 6 days a week (aerobics, endurance/strength training) and still my weight just clings to me like an anchor to a ship. I am tired of being told by my M.D. you need to “cut your calorie in-take”….are you kidding me??!!! If I keep cutting calories then I might as well starve myself to death. I’m a firm believe, low Estrogen causes weight gain and fat shift in menopausal women such as myself and I am desperately wanting some type of relief other than HRT. HELP!

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Magnolia March 22, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Hi Carrie,

Most physicians (the ones I read) agree that it is actually estrogen dominance which causes weight gain during perimenopause and menopause. Excess estrogen increases fat cells and inhibits distribution of fat, which almost always finds its way to our middle, butt, and thighs. :)

In addition, fat cells produce estrogen as well. So, the more fat we have, the more estrogen our body produces. And the more estrogen our body produces, the more fat cells we have. So, it turns into a crazy fat-making-estrogen-producing cycle that is very hard to break.

I recommend a book by Dr. C.W. Randolph entitled From Belly Fat to Belly Flat Dr. Randolph addresses the cycle of estrogen and fat, offers excellent recipes, and solid medical advice on how to drop the “meno-pudge” as I sometimes call it.

Middle age is a different time of life and we have to change our paradigm on what is healthy for us. Please check out the book, and join us on Facebook!

Magnolia

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rachael eustache June 15, 2014 at 1:07 am

hi magnolia,
i am 38, yup and believe me when i tell you my problems started 2008 not too long after a major surgery. and over the years it has gotten worse, just last month i did every blood test, nothing. i was also sent to do an ECG, nada. so i was convince i was mentally screwed then, but that thought did nt make me feel better. i cant sleep, i have no appetite, i detest sex, sweat like crazy, no energy, heart flutters, spasms, itches, sinus, constant headache, mouth tastes horrible. the list goes on and on. in 2010 had 2 more major surgeries on my back so was not sure what my symptoms related to.
i cry every time i was by myself which is all day, i made up my mind i was going to die young. now i always joke with family members that is old age and its menopause as am always never well. then yesterday morning after turning off the lights, pc, still no sleep was close. so i decide to google on my phone under the pillow what is wrong with me, and wow i read about elliot,.. lets just say i cries myself to sleep some time before the sun came up.
to shorten my story, this blog saved my life yesterday. i do not feel better but at least i know it is real.
thanks

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Sarah June 15, 2014 at 1:27 pm

Rachael I’ve been driving myself crazy thing I’m going mad ! Thought no one else was experiencing these sort of feelings!… None of my friends my age have got to this point yet! :/ my son has turned 17 this week too and feeling old! I’ve been getting all depressed and feeling like I have cabin fever! Where about r u based?!

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Sarah June 15, 2014 at 12:33 pm

This site is great! Glad to hear not on my own! I’m being treated for Complex Partial seizures on a mix of meds for that, I’ve had Epilepsy since 5! But as my body has changed it’s changed with! Over the last 6 months my periods have stopped and all the sudden I’ve had a heavy one with no warning! Had a blood test last Thursday which was for my regular med level but I got my doctor to check my FSH also as been experiencing, nights sweats massively, mood swing badly, indigestion which I didn’t used to suffer with and bad pain in my shoulder on left!
Also suffer with low blood pressure anyway, so exercise has slowed down, which has frustrated me but been researching Yoga centres! My husband doesn’t understand any times I try explaining to him thinks I’m being over emotional! and he only lost his mum just before November so things have been difficult and I’m trying to supportive of his feeling too! But think he may be going through male menopause! We’ll be married coming up for 10 years and I don’t know which way to turn?!

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