Not sure what to expect, or whether or not the symptoms you’re experiencing right now are indicative of perimenopause? Here’s the full list.
The date’s circled on the calendar, you’ve got plenty of chocolate in and a hot water bottle at the ready… but your period doses’t appear. Or maybe it does show up, but with no warning at all, and you weren’t prepared for it- or the bloating that came along for the ride. Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
Irregular periods are an annoying yet very common perimenopause symptom. They’re caused by a reduction in oestrogen as the ovaries slow down and begin to stop working. This reduction in oestrogen can cause various changes to your cycle- some months you might not release an egg for ovulation, so you might not get a period at all; some months your period might be late, or early, or heavy, or light… it can be an unpredictable time.
We get it, honestly. Never knowing when your period will appear, or how heavy it will be, can be really unsettling. Luckily, period pants are your friend. If you suspect your period is on the way, simply pop a pair on and you’re ready for anything.
As you grow older, ovulation can become more and more erratic, and once the perimenopause journey starts and oestrogen production decreases, this can happen more. The result is a drop in fertility, making it much harder to get pregnant
Lots of women report feelings of anxiety during perimenopause, but it’s still not talked about much. According to Dr Louise Newson, anxiety is a common symptom, again due to reduced oestrogen- but there are treatments out there that can help. Speak to your GP for advice.
Ever walked into a room and completely forgotten what you went in there for? That’s brain fog for you- another really common symptom. Brain fog can be really frustrating though, and it’s all down to reduced oestrogen and testosterone.
Depression is more than just low mood. Some doctors believe that the risk of depression increases during perimenopause, so it’s really important to speak up if you feel like you could be suffering.
There is no shame here; fluctuating hormones can wreak havoc on your emotional wellbeing, especially when coupled with other symptoms. It can be a normal part of the journey, but you don’t need to suffer in silence. Speak to your GP for advice on and support available to you.
Ever get those days where everyone and everything is just SO annoying?! Again, you’re not alone. Irritability is a really common symptom and lots of women report that their patience is severely tested at this time. You guessed it- hormones are to blame here, too.
Short term memory issues
More than just brain fog- some women experience short term memory issues during perimenopause, which can be really frustrating. You can thank the fluctuating hormones and possible sleep issues for this one too.
Around 1 in 3 women over the age of 35 will experience bladder weakness, which is no small number. A few factors are at play here. The natural ageing process weakens the pelvic floor muscles and lack of oestrogen can cause the lining of the urethra to thin out too. Pair that with potential damage to the pelvic floor muscles caused by pregnancy and childbirth, and urinary incontinence might pose an issue.
While it’s common, again this isn’t a symptom you simply have to put up with. Our new DryTech™ incontinence pants are an ideal solution if you do suffer from light leaks and dribbles- just wear them like a normal pair of pants, wash and re-use. But remember, these are a solution and not a cure. Speak to your GP for advice on how to manage incontinence.
Ever get that feeling like you’ve eaten an entire Christmas dinner, but without the joy of actually consuming a huge meal? Ah, bloating. Just as the fluctuating levels of oestrogen and progesterone can seemingly play havoc with your waistline during your period, the journey towards menopause can be no different.
We guarantee this is one you probably haven’t heard much about. Nobody really wants to admit that their own body odour is suddenly less than pleasant, but this is actually one of the 48 symptoms.
Increased body odour is in part due to lack oestrogen causing us to sweat more (hello night sweats and hot flushes… coming soon!) but also down to a heightened sense of smell that comes with it too. Much like is experienced during pregnancy, lots of women report being able to detect more odours in perimenopause too. An odd one for sure!
This symptom can be easily managed by maintaining good personal hygiene and by wearing loose layers made form breathable fabrics. Our Everyday™ collection is perfect for you if your body temperature is rising- made from cooling Tencel Modal, each piece is breathable to keep you as comfortable as possible.
Finding it hard to focus on one thing, or losing track of what you’re doing is another really common yet frustrating perimenopause symptom. Meditation or yoga could be really beneficial if you find it’s becoming difficult to concentrate for long periods of time. Sometimes taking time out can make all the difference.
Feeling short of breath or a little wheezy? While we’d never rule out medical attention, particularly if you’ve had a cold or you suffer with asthma, there is a chance this could be down to menopause too. It could be as mild as feeling out of puff going up the stairs, or you could be experiencing more severe difficulties. Either way, if you’re concerned then speak to your GP for advice and to rule out any other potential conditions.
Burning mouth syndrome
This one had us stumped too, but yes- a burning sensation in the mouth is also a perimenopause symptom. And while this one seems quite obscure, it actually affects over 30% of women, according to The Menopause Charity.
Symptoms of burning mouth syndrome include “pain and discomfort in the mouth lips and tongue described as a tingling, scalding, numbness or burning sensation. Other symptoms may include a dry mouth, a bitter or metallic taste and loss of taste.”
Again, hormones are to blame- speak to your GP for more advice if you’re concerned.
Changes to breast size
Thought your boobs had finished growing? Think again! Breast growth is common as we age, and during perimenopause many women find they actually go up a cup or two. This is down to possible weight gain, but also a process called involution. This is where milk glands are shut down and replaced by fat cells.
While this symptoms might not sound so bad, for some it can be really uncomfortable, especially if you already have large breasts to begin with. The extra weight can also cause the breasts to sag, which is obviously not the look anyone was going for, so we recommend a really good supportive bra to keep things in place and to ease discomfort.
Our Everyday™ bralette is perfect because there’s no underwire, and it’s made from super soft, breathable Tencel too.
Changes to libido
Sudden changes to your libido can be really confusing- and it can go either way. Maybe the thought of sex makes you want to run away screaming (and the vaginal dryness, weight gain and loss of confidence doesn’t help either), or perhaps you just can’t seem to get enough? Both changes are normal, so keeping an open dialogue with your partner is important, Talk about how you feel and find ways to be intimate that you’re both comfortable with.
Poor self confidence and reduced self esteem
This one can hit pretty hard. One minute you’re striding to the office ready for another amazing kick ass week at work, the next you’re doubting yourself, feeling like an imposter and ready to give it all up for an ‘easy life’.
Again, this can be a normal part of the perimenopause journey. After all, there are so many other changes taking place, sometimes your body might not even feel like your own. You’re bound to feel the effects- especially if anxiety, poor sleep and other symptoms such as joint pain stop you from carrying our your usual activities.
Think back to the old days, when you hit puberty and your hormones were all in full force… yep, menopause can be a bit like that, too. Mood swings are so common, but now you’re older you can take steps to ensure your unpredictable temperament doses’t rock the boat too much. Speak to your partner and your family and explain how you’re feeling. Take time out when you feel you need to, and ask your loved ones to just give you some time.
You’re not crazy, you’re just feeling the effects drastically falling oestrogen, and that can be hard.
Feelings of escalated panic can be really difficult to deal with, and often seemingly come out of the blue too. Lots of women report sudden panic attacks during perimenopause, after having never suffered from them before. This can be really frightening, but again it’s more than likely to be the hormones playing around with your emotions again.
Worsening of PMS symptoms
Feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster, sure your period is just around the corner- but you never used get PMS quite like this before? Another symptom. As hormone levels fluctuate and your periods become more erratic, PMS symptoms can worsen for many- leaving you feeling tired, bloated, weepy and fed up. And the kicker is, your period might not even appear for a few weeks yet…
If this sounds like you, know that you’re not alone. All of your usual PMS treatments are required here, so drink plenty of water, eat a healthy diet, avoid alcohol and too much caffeine and grab a hot water bottle for the cramps.
You used to be the life and soul of the party, the one who got things done, the one who rallied the troops when stuff needed to happen. Now, you’re just a little bit… meh. Tick that one off your list of perimenopause symptoms.
Lack of motivation can present in a few different ways. Maybe the hobbies or activities you used to love just don’t appeal any more, perhaps the sleepless nights and growing anxiety is keeping you in the safety of home more often these days. Whatever the reason, lots of women report reduced motivation to do the things they used to enjoy during menopause.
If your usual zest for life seems to be wilting you can, again, put it down to hormones- this time it’s a lack of oestrogen with erratic progesterone, thyroid and adrenal hormones thrown into the mix for good measure.
Changes to taste and smell
Got a sudden aversion to your morning coffee? Or maybe that perfume you used to love is suddenly making you feel queasy? Welcome to perimenopause, and one of the lesser known symptoms that can occur.
This one is all down to saliva, and how it helps us to taste and smell certain flavours and aromas. As levels of oestrogen fall, the amount of saliva we produce also falls, and this can send our tastebuds a little haywire. It’s worth knowing though, that this can also happen as part of the natural ageing process too, so it might not always be down to menopause. It’s just another part of the puzzle!
Dental hygiene is so important, and never more so than during perimenopause. According to Dr. Theodora Kalentzi for Newson Health, "The menopause may affect many parts of a woman’s body and the mouth is no exception. If you are perimenopausal or menopausal then you may notice discomfort in your mouth, including dry mouth, pain and burning sensations in your gums.”
Lower levels of oestrogen are to blame for mouth dryness, which can lead to the growth of bacteria, resulting in tooth decay and gum disease. And then there’s the added risk of osteoporosis which can lead to reduced bone density in your jaw… The bottom line? Don’t skip your dental appointments, and make sure you brush twice a day.
Dizziness/ feeling light headed
Ever feel light headed or dizzy when you stand up? Doctors aren’t quite sure why the happens more during perimenopause, but it’s thought to be down to fluctuating blood sugar levels, caused by- you guessed it- hormones.
If this is a symptom you’re experiencing, take care stand up slowly after sitting, and make sure you stay hydrated too. Speak to your GP if you experience fainting spells and try to rest as much as you can if you feel fatigued.
Itchy, dry eyes are another menopause symptom that some women experience as oestrogen levels decline. According to Vision Express, dry eyes can be a normal part of the ageing process, but for women in perimenopause it can be a lot more common.
Try to limit he amount of time you spend looking at a screen if you can, and speak to your optician about drops that can help.
Another part of the body suffering from dryness thanks to low levels of oestrogen! Dry mouth can be really irritating, especially when you need to give a presentation at work, or you’re trying to sleep at night.
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and- again- keep up with your dental appointments to ensure your teeth and gums are healthy.
Fatigue: more than just feeling tired. You feel it in your bones, it’s almost like you have to drag yourself through the day, even if you slept relatively well the night before. And if the night sweats and hot flushes kept you awake, the fatigue can hit even harder the next day. Oh, joy!
Fatigue can come and go in phases, so be kind to yourself and take time out when you need it.
Change in temperature- feeling cold
We tend to think of hot flushes when we think of menopause, but for lots of women a drop in body temperature can be a symptom too. One minute you’re fine, the next you’re chilled to the bone and no amount of layers will help.
This delightful symptom is the reverse of a hot flush, the body’s response to fluctuating hormones which also cause sudden rises in temperature too. The good news is cold flashes tends to pass quite quickly.
Headaches and migraines
If you regularly suffer with headaches, particularly around the time of your period, this one is for you. Menopausal headaches and migraines can be really debilitating, and often accompanied by mood swings and trouble sleeping. Nice.
If this is you, stay hydrated, take over the counter pain killers and rest assured it won’t last forever. That said, do speak to your GP if you’re concerned.
Heart palpitations can be scary, as your heart seems to race, flutter, skip a beat… not fun! Fluctuating hormones and other symptoms such as hot flushes can be the cause of ‘blips’ in the cardiovascular system, but it’s important to know the difference between just another menopause symptom’ and sign of something more serious.
The British Heart Foundation advises that symptoms of a heart attack can vary, but you can find information on their site of the most common ones. They also recommend meditation and other mindful exercises that can help to relieve stress and anxiety, both of which can also lead to heart palpitations.
Ah, hot flushes. Probably one of the most commonly known menopause symptoms, and yet doctors still aren’t 100% sure on why they we get them. You can be totally fine one minute, and the next you’re literally drenched in sweat and wanting to rip your clothes off in the middle of the kitchen.
The good news is that most hot flushes last only a few minutes, but that’s not to say they aren’t annoying. Along with an extreme rise in body temperature, lots of women also experience flushing in the face and neck, with an irregular heartbeat and tingling fingers too. Not fun!
Hot flushes can be managed though. A good tip is to keep a small fan handy so you can cool yourself down when you need to, and make sure you wear loose clothing too. Fabrics such as cotton are great because the material is breathable- again, our Everyday™ underwear is perfect for these times as the Tencel is not only super cooling for your skin, but breathable too. And if you’re wearing period pants, take a look at our Ultimate™ collection as they’re also made from Tencel to help you stay dry and comfortable.
Ok, so this symptom really isn’t fun. You get out of bed, your legs ache, your back aches, in fact your whole body aches. The Menopause Charity advises that menopausal joint pain can often also be misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia, which presents as all over body pain, fatigue and sleep problems.
If you’re experiencing joint pain, it’s probably due to inflammation caused by drops in oestrogen, which can also lead to osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Practises such as yoga and swimming can help, plus there are some foods that can help too- such as oily fish for essential fatty acids, and anti-inflammatory foods such as blueberries, cherries, spinach, kale and broccoli.
Reduced bone density
Osteoporosis can develop over years, but often presents during perimenopause as bones weaken more rapidly at this time. The result? It’s a lot easier to break a bone when density is reduced, even after only minor bumps.
Because osteoporosis can be a long time coming, what you do in the years leading up to menopause really count. The Royal Osteoporosis Society has a quiz you can take to check your bone health, plus lots of advice on how to maintain bone density as you age.
Feeling like you’ve had a tough session in the gym, without having so much as lifted a dumbbell in weeks? Thanks, hormones!
During perimenopause, low progesterone can lead to increased tension in the body, and then as oestrogen lowers too, levels of cortisol rise- leading to an increase in blood pressure and blood sugar levels. All of this combined results in increased muscle tension.
Its also worth noting that loss of muscle mass can also happen during menopause, so if you are able to keep up with weight lifting sessions, your body will definitely thank you for it!
Changes to your nails
Whether you’ve always enjoyed a manicure or not, chances are your nails are looking a little… rough, these days. Dry, flaky and bendy, perhaps?!
Nails are made from keratin, a hard protein which is weakened by falling levels of oestrogen- so again, fluctuating hormones are to blame for this symptom. Sigh.
Nausea and digestive issues
Heartburn, nausea, tummy upsets, IBS flare ups… fun, fun, fun! Digestive issues can occur during perimenopause thanks to, once more, hormones.
Lots of women report feeling nauseous in the morning, and repelled by the breakfast they used to enjoy. Anxiety and fatigue can also affect appetite, making it harder to start the day with a hearty meal. And if you thought this was bad, wait for the constipation and wind that women also report as their journey towards menopause progresses…
Introducing hot flushes’s partner in crime: night sweats! This one will leave you drenched in sweat of a morning, feeling like you’ve taken a bath in your sleep. Lovely.
The Sleep Foundation tells us that up to 80% of women in perimenopause experience night sweats, and they can really impact on your quality of sleep too. Try to keep your bedroom as cool as you can, with a window open for fresh air, and wear loose clothing to bed. Again, cotton fabrics are best as they’re breathable.
Urinary Tract Infections are common during perimenopause, and many women find they seem to get them one after another too. This is all down to hormonal changes which affect the urethra, making it a lot thinner, and thus more susceptible to infection. Some UTIs can also be caused by bladder issues such as an ability to fully empty the bladder when peeing. Lastly, hormonal fluctuations can also lead to an imbalance in the vagina’s normal bacteria, potentially leading to Bacterial Vaginosis.
UTIs and infections can cause temporary urinary incontinence, or exacerbate the issue if you already experience light leaks and dribbles. If this is the case for you, our DryTech™ pants can be a real game changer- you simply wear them like normal pants, and they’ll absorb leaks- up to 50ml. Plus, the pants are treated with PolygieneStayFresh™ so they’re antibacterial, and PolygineOdourCrunch™ to keep odour at bay.
Changes to breast density
So bigger boobs might not be the worst menopause symptoms for some, but changes to breast density isn’t quite as much fun. Sorry, but saggy breasts are a common perimenopause symptom too.
Once again, falling oestrogen levels are blame, as lower levels leads to a cessation of milk production, which in return causes glandular tissues in the breast to shrink. As collagen production is also slowing down in the body, the result is a lack of breast density, aka sagging. You might also notice a downturn to your nipples (fun) and possibly stretch marks too.
Theses change are normal- sorry!- but there are other changes that could be a sign of something else, so look out for redness, leaky nipples, significant changes in the shape of one breast, lumps or thickening of the skin. If you’re concerned, make an appointment with your GP.
Sleep can be fairly elusive for some during perimenopause. Night sweats, hot flushes, anxiety, heart palpitations- they can all lead to a poor night’s sleep. But for some, insomnia can be a real issue at this time.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, check out the resources over on The Sleep Charity’s site.
They’re bigger, they’re saggy, and now they’re sore, too. Just like in the days leading up to your period, hormonal fluctuations during perimenopause can cause your boobs to ache. Worse now, with the unpredictability of exactly when your period is due to make an appearance, so many find this symptom lingers for a little too long.
A good, comfy and supportive bra is a must- but if you’re concerned about breast pain, speak to your GP for advice.
It was once your crowning glory, but now you’re so tempted to just chop it all off and wear a hat instead. Thinning hair is so common, and all down to imbalance of hormones- this time androgens are to blame too. A drop in these hormones can cause hair to thin out, while lack of oestrogen can cause hair to become dry and brittle too.
This is an odd one, but have you noticed your fingers and toes gong numb for apparently no reason? It’s not as common as other symptoms, but it’s one of the 48- thought to be down to hormones, naturally.
Ouch. One of the lesser discussed perimenopause symptom, but a common one, nonetheless so let’s talk about it. Drops in oestrogen can cause the walls of the vagina to become drier and thinner, and this can result in itchiness and discomfort during sex. But you don’t need suffer in silence!
Speak to your doctor about treatments that can help. It’s also always a good idea to avoid perfumed soaps and avoid putting creams or lotions inside your vagina too. And speak to your partner. If you’re not feeling lubricated during sex, there are things that you can do to improve that, or lubricants you can try too.
Noticed the numbers on the sale creeping up, despite your best efforts to ‘be good’? You’re not alone, and so many factors could be at play here. Reduced muscle mass, along with other symptoms such as fatigue and anxiety paying havoc with your motivation to move more, not to mention appetite changes… all of this can result in weight gain.
But weight gain is not inevitable. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet and incorporating strength training into your workouts is the best way to stay fit and well during menopause.
Thought spots and hormonal acne were a thing of the past? Sadly not. Sorry! Blame he hormones… again.
Slightly different, this one. But if you experience a tingling sensation on the skin, almost like an electric shock sensation- that could be a menopause symptom too. Its thought this one is down to hormone imbalances causing neutrons to misfire in the brain.
Changes to skin texture
Your eyes are dry, you vagina is dry, only makes sense for your skin to dry out too, right? But this one is more than just dryness, which is enough on it’s own for sure. This skin symptom has the added benefit of wrinkles, lines and thinning out too.
As your body produces less collagen, it not only dries out but loses fatty acids too. This results in a less ‘plump’ appearance- totally normal.
Ending on a high note with itchy skin! Again, you can blame oestrogen for this one- more specifically, the drop in collagen production along with a decline in the production of the natural oils that keep our skin hydrated.
So how many of these 48 can you tick off your list?