Surprising Symptoms Of The Perimenopause

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Swooping and dipping hormones in the years leading up to your last period can cause a lot more than hot flushes and night sweats as Patsy Westcott discovers

We’ve all heard of the menopause. But some of us may not necessarily have heard of the perimenopause. So what exactly is it? Well, simply, it’s the period right before the menopause begins, and your periods stop.

Occuring in the years running up to your final period, it usually begins as you approach your late 40s to early 50s. Our w&h health writer, Patsy Wescott, speaks to specialist gynaecologist Dr Heather Currie about surprising symptoms that can occur in the years before your final period.

Tingling tongue, achy joints or itchy skin? Even those with heads deeply buried in the sand when it comes to any sign of menopause have heard of classic symptoms such as flushes, sweats and insomnia. But you may be surprised to learn that a range of less familiar ? and more surprising – symptoms may also occur at this time.

The jury is still out as to whether these are caused by the hormonal roller coaster or whether it?s just coincidental that they happen at the same time as hormones start to dwindle. But consultant gynaecologist, Heather Currie, of Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, co-editor of the Journal of the British Menopause Society and founder Menopause Matters (menopausematters.co.uk) says, ?Women do report a lot of strange symptoms around this time.

“Although there is no strong scientific evidence they are caused by fluctuating hormones, there are oestrogen receptors ? protein structures that let oestrogen into cells rather like a key fitting into a lock ? throughout your body.?

Consultant gynaecologist, Ms Claudine Domoney, of London?s Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, agrees, adding: ? Periods become irregular perimenopausally, which can mean premenstrual symptoms such as swollen breasts, bladder problems, bloating and migraines become unhinged from the normal cycle making them difficult to interpret. Women also often complain of just feeling generally unwell.?

Both doctors suggest a three-month trial of low-dose HRT ? the length of time needed for oestrogen to take effect. If symptoms improve they probably are hormone-related, if not you may need further investigation. If you don?t want to take or have been advised to avoid HRT there?s still lots you can do to help yourself.

So take a look at some of the surprising symptoms of perimenopause, and what you can do about them…

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