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Understanding Perimenopause: What Every Woman Should Know!

Did you know that many women begin experiencing perimenopause symptoms in their 40s, while others might start noticing changes as early as their 30s?

    Every single woman will go through menopause at some stage of their lives, so why are we not talking about it more? Why is it such a taboo? Why isn’t there the right support or education around this menopausal transition?

    In this blog, we will explore what perimenopause is, why the age and duration of this transition vary among women, the common and less common symptoms, the often-overlooked factors that may exacerbate symptoms, and evidence-based strategies for managing them.

    I hope this blog leaves you feeling more informed and empowered to take control of your health and to confidently prepare for this stage of your life, without the usual worry or fear. 

What is Perimenopause?

Perimenopause, also known as the menopausal transition, is the period of time leading up to menopause, typically characterised by various physical, emotional, and hormonal changes. It marks the phase during which a woman's body makes the natural transition from reproductive adult years to menopause. This stage starts with menopausal symptoms (irregularities in the menstrual cycle and hormone levels) and ends when the menstrual cycle has stopped for a full year.

Key Points

  • Duration: It’s not surprising for perimenopause to last for 10 years! Usually it can last between a few months and several years. Often starting in a woman’s 40s, however for some this can start in a woman’s 30s.

  • Common Symptoms: Hot flashes, Night sweats, Irregular periods, Vaginal dryness, Mood changes, Decreased libido, Sleep disruptions, Weight gain, Dry skin, Thinning hair, and Brain Fog. 

  • Hormonal Changes: There are significant changes in oestrogen and progesterone levels, leading to the common symptoms that we see and hear about.

  • End of Perimenopause: Perimenopause officially ends when a woman has gone a full year (12 months) without a menstrual period - After the year mark the transition through Menopause is complete. 

Why The Perimenopause Age Varies? 

The age at which women experience menopause can vary widely due to a range of factors. Here are some key reasons why some women may go through menopause in their 30s while others may not experience it until their 50s:

Genetic Factors

  • Genetics play an important role in determining the timing of menopause. If your mother or sisters experienced early or late menopause, you are likely to follow a similar pattern


  • Women who smoke tend to reach menopause 1-2 years earlier than nonsmokers because of the impact smoking has on oestrogen levels  

  • Women with lower body mass index (BMI) can cause early menopause because of the low fat content, body fat contributes to oestrogen production.


  •  Long term exposure to environmental toxins and endocrine disruptors, food in plastics and foods, may lead to earlier menopause due to the impact they have on hormonal functions


  • Certain chronic illnesses and health conditions such as thyroid disorders and chronic fatigue syndrome, may have an influence on menopause and age factor.

  • Infections and genetic disorders, like turner syndrome can affect ovarian function and lead to early menopause.


  • Medical treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy can damage the ovaries and cause a early menopause

  • Hysterectomy where the ovaries are removed, will cause an immediate menopause regardless of age.

  • Certain autoimmune conditions where the system attacks the ovarian tissues can lead to an earlier menopause.


  • Studies show variations in the timing of menopause among many ethic groups.

  • Geographical location can affect a Womens experience and menopausal age, due to diet, lifestyle, and environmental factors


Symptoms greatly very from person to person and may change over time, below you will find the most common symptoms talked about and the less common symptoms that many people may not be aware of:

Common symptoms: 

  • Hot Flashes: Sudden feelings of warmth, skin becomes red and blotchy. Which are usually most intense over the face, neck, and chest.

  • Night Sweats: Hot flashes that occur during sleep and can cause excessive sweating.

  • Irregular Periods: Menstrual cycles can become irregular in frequency, duration, and flow.

  • Vaginal Dryness: Decreased oestrogen levels can lead to dryness, which might cause discomfort or pain during intercourse. Soreness and itchiness can occur around the vagina. As well as the need to pee more than usual.

  • Mood Changes: Increased irritability, anxiety, or depression.

  • Sleep Disturbances: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, often due to night sweats.

  • Decreased Libido: A decline in sexual desire.

  • Weight Gain: Many women notice an increase in weight, particularly around the abdomen.

  • Thinning Hair: Change in oestrogen levels may lead to hair thinning or hair loss.

  • Dry Skin: Due to the loss of natural skin oils, the skin may become drier + loss of collagen and elasticity.

  • Urinary Problems: Bladder can weaken and the vaginal tissue becomes more thin, leading to the need to urinate more frequently + there’s a higher likelihood of urinary tract infections.

  • Memory Lapses: Hello brain fog, some may experience forgetfulness or have trouble concentrating.

  • Breast Tenderness: Similar to premenstrual symptoms, but may get worst during perimenopause.

Less Common symptoms:

  • Dry Eyes: Hormonal changes can lead to decreased tear production, causing dry, irritated eyes.

  • Electric Shock Sensation: Some women report a bizarre sensation of electric shocks in their bodies, often in their heads or arms, which can be connected to fluctuating hormone levels.

  • Burning Tongue: Some experience a slight burning sensation on their tongue or a metallic taste in their mouth.

  • Gum Problems: Hormonal changes can affect oral health, leading to swollen or bleeding gums.

  • Itchy Skin: Decreased oestrogen levels can cause skin to become drier and itchier.

  • Crawling Skin Sensation: Some women feel something akin to insects crawling on their skin, a condition often referred to as formication.

  • Digestive Issues: Hormonal fluctuations might cause bloating, gas, or changes in bowel habits.

  • Joint Pain: Aching joints or stiffness could also be a symptom, often attributed to the drop in oestrogen.

  • Heart Palpitations: Irregular heartbeats or palpitations can occasionally be linked to these hormonal changes.

  • Allergies: Increased sensitivity or new allergies might sometimes surface during perimenopause.


Often-overlooked factors that may exacerbate symptoms

     There is evidence to suggest that toxins in our food, environment, and body can exacerbate perimenopause symptoms or cause hormonal disruptions that might contribute to these symptoms. Here are a few ways this can happen:

Endocrine Disruptors:

  • Endocrine disruptors can mimic or even block our natural hormones, causing perimenopausal symptoms like mood swings, hot flashes and irregular periods.

  • These disruptors care caused by chemicals like BPA (found in plastics), phthalates (found in personal care products), parabens (preservatives found in personal care products) and pesticides (toxic substances used to control pests) are known to interfere with hormone function.

Heavy Metals:

  • Exposure to heavy metals such as lead and mercury can affect hormonal balance and overall health + they are also an endocrine disruptor.

Dietary Toxins:

  • Processed foods and additives can lead to inflammation and oxidative stress, worsening perimenopausal symptoms.

  • High intake of sugar and unhealthy fats can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance, which can also impact hormone levels.

  • There is also naturally occurring endocrine disrupts found in foods like soy, but are generally considered less harmful, but can still have an affect on hormone balance.

  • (PFAS) per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, are found in non-stick cookware and water-repellent fabrics

Environmental Pollutants:

  • Air pollution and other environmental toxins can contribute to oxidative stress and inflammation, potentially exacerbating perimenopausal symptoms.

Cleaning Products:

  • There are quite a few harmful toxins in our cleaning products that cause issues with our hormones, such as: Phthalates, (PERC), Triclosan, 2- Butoxyethanol, Chlorine, and Fragrance. As well as many more carcinogenic ingredients and ingredients harmful to the respiratory system.

While these factors can influence hormonal balance and the severity of symptoms, it's important to understand that each woman's experience with perimenopause can be different. Reducing exposure to these toxins where possible is so important to our health and to managing perimenopausal symptoms.

Practical steps to reduce exposure include:

  • Eating organic produce to limit pesticide exposure, or focus on the clean 15 foods and the 12 dirty dozen.

  • Using glass or stainless steel containers instead of plastic.

  • Choosing natural personal care products, including makeup, body care, face care, dental care, hair care and sanitary care.

  • Filtering your water to remove contaminants.

  • Reducing intake of processed foods and ultra processed foods. 

Gut Health also plays a significant role in influencing perimenopause symptoms, Here’s How:

Hormonal Regulation:

  • Microbiome Influence: The gut microbiome helps in metabolising and regulating hormones, including oestrogen. An imbalance in gut bacteria can affect hormone levels, potentially worsening perimenopause symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, and irregular periods.


  • Gut Inflammation: Poor gut health can lead to systemic inflammation, which may exacerbate symptoms such as joint pain, fatigue, and even mood swings.

Mood and Mental Health:

  • Gut-Brain Axis: The gut produces neurotransmitters like serotonin, which influences mood and mental well-being. An unhealthy gut can lead to increased anxiety, depression, and mood swings, which are common during perimenopause.

Nutrient Absorption:

  • Nutrient Deficiencies: A healthy gut is crucial for absorbing nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D, which are essential for managing symptoms like bone health, muscle function, and overall energy levels. Poor gut health can lead to deficiencies that may worsen symptoms.

Weight Management:

  • Metabolism: Gut health impacts metabolism and weight management. An imbalanced gut microbiome may contribute to weight gain, which can be a concern during perimenopause.


Tips for Improving Gut Health:

  1. Probiotics: Incorporate probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods to support a healthy gut microbiome.

  2. Prebiotics: Eat prebiotic-rich foods like bananas, onions, garlic, and asparagus to nourish beneficial gut bacteria.

  3. Fiber: A diet high in fiber supports gut health. Include plenty of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.

  4. Hydration: Drink plenty of water to support digestion and nutrient absorption + flush out toxins.

  5. Limit Processed Foods: Reduce intake of processed and high-sugar foods that can harm gut health.

  6. Stress Management: Chronic stress can negatively impact gut health. Practices like mindfulness, meditation, and regular exercise can help.

Taking care of your gut can significantly improve your overall health and help manage the symptoms of perimenopause more effectively. 

Proactive Steps to Prepare for Perimenopause

Maintain a Balanced Diet

  • Focus on whole foods rich in nutrients, including plenty of vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains.

  • Ensure adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D to support bone health.

Regular Physical Activity

  • Engage in aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, or swimming to boost cardiovascular health.

  • Incorporate strength training to maintain muscle mass and bone density -its so important, think more weights, less cardio.

  • Practice yoga or Pilates to improve flexibility, balance, and reduce stress.

Manage Stress

  • Develop a routine for stress management through mindfulness practices, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or hobbies you enjoy.

  • Adequate sleep and relaxation techniques also play a critical role.

Stay Hydrated

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated, which helps with overall bodily functions and can alleviate some symptoms like hot flashes.

Quality Sleep:

  • Maintain good sleep hygiene by having a consistent sleep schedule and a comfortable sleep environment.

  • Limit caffeine and screen time before bed to improve sleep quality.

Get Regular Check-ups

  • Schedule regular visits with your healthcare provider and integrative health practitioner to monitor changes and address any emerging health concerns.

  • Discuss any symptoms or worries early on, and consider hormone level testing if recommended. 

Educate Yourself and Track Symptoms

  • Learn about the changes your body may undergo during perimenopause, staying informed can help you manage symptoms better.

  • Keep a symptom diary to track patterns and identify triggers.

Optimise Gut Health

  • Include probiotic-rich foods and prebiotics in your diet to support a healthy digestive system and hormonal balance.

  • Consider supplements like L-Glutamine to support gut lining health.

Healthy Weight Management

  • Aim to maintain a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise, which can alleviate some perimenopause symptoms.

Quit Smoking and Limit Alcohol

  • Avoid smoking and limit alcohol consumption, as both can exacerbate symptoms and affect overall health negatively.

Consider Supplements

  • Discuss with your healthcare provider about the use of supplements such as Omega-3 fatty acidsB vitamins, Magnesium, Vitamin D, Zinc, Adaptogens (Like Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and Maca) and herbal remedies like black cohosh, evening primrose and red clover that may help with symptoms.

Prioritise Self-care Practices:

  • Ensure you have time for yourself, engage in activities that you enjoy and that relax you.

  • Create a supportive social network to share experiences and tips.

Implementing these proactive steps can greatly ease the transition into perimenopause and provide you with tools to manage symptoms effectively. 


I hope you have found this perimenopause and menopause blog helpful and an easy guide to navigate. We went through quite a few areas covering what perimenopause and menopause is, the common and less common symptoms, the factors that are rarely talked about such as toxins and gut health, and wrapped it up with some useful tips about how to help prepare for perimenopause/menopause.


It can be a tricky transition to navigate, some women have a really tough time and feel like they have lost a part of themselves that they don’t know how to get back, while others say they hardly noticed the transition. I don’t know about you, but I definitely rather be the one who breezes though it without much notice.

I know I plan to use my early 40’s preparing my body and mind for the next stage of my life. I personally go through mixed emotions about what this transition means to me, sometimes I’m ok with it, as we all go through it, and sometimes I am slightly anxious about it all. I definitely feel a lot better being prepared and not scared, and I hope you will also feel empowered with the right tools.

If you are currently going through perimenopause or menopause and have found this information useful or want to add anything that has helped you. Please Share!

Or if you want to share your story for others that you think would be insightful, that would be appreciated.


Further Reading: Here are a few of my favourite books that I recommend on the subject:

  • Perimenopause Power by Maisie Hill

  • The Hormone Cure by Dr. Sara Gottfried

  • Woman Code by Alisa Vitti

  • Balance Your Hormones by Patrick Holford


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