Signs and Symptoms of Pre-Menopause and How to Cope
Women go through a lot of changes in their lives. Some of these changes are natural, while others should be monitored closely by your doctor. As you move into your 40s and 50s, you may experience pre-menopause symptoms and want to know what they mean. Read on to learn more about what signs to look out for and how to deal with them.
The first stage of pre menopause is when a woman’s menstrual cycle becomes irregular. This can happen as early as your late 30s or 40s, but it most commonly occurs toward the end of your 40s.
If you’re in this stage and experiencing irregular bleeding, here are some steps you can take:
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Dehydration can cause vaginal dryness, which increases your risk for bacterial vaginosis.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics that can increase urine output, which causes more frequent bathroom trips.
- Keep track of your cycle for several months, especially if this is a new occurrence. If you’ve noticed an abnormal amount of bleeding during your last two cycles, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss possible causes and treatment options, such as hormonal therapy.
Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
Hot flashes and night sweats are the most common symptoms of menopause. The good news is that they’re temporary, and many women find they improve over time.
Hot flashes and night sweats can be a nuisance, but there are some things you can do to make them easier to deal with.
- Products like soy milk, tofu, and edamame (fresh soybeans) may help ease hot flashes and night sweats. A small study in 2017 found that women who ate 25 grams of soy protein daily for 12 weeks saw their hot flashes decrease by more than half compared with women who consumed no soy protein.
Increased heart rate
One of the most classic pre menopause signs is an increased heart rate. This can make you feel tired, lightheaded, and even dizzy. This can be particularly dangerous if you have a history of heart disease or high blood pressure. The best way to deal with this is by;
- Adopting a lifestyle that promotes good blood flow through exercise and healthy eating habits. You can also try meditation and breathing exercises to reduce stress and lower your heart rate.
Vaginal dryness is a common problem caused by hormone changes during menopause. Dryness can make you feel uncomfortable and even painful when you have sex or do certain things, like wear a tampon. It’s also the most common symptom of vaginal atrophy, thinning your vaginal walls and floor due to falling oestrogen levels. Here are some things that might help;
- Consume dietary supplements containing plant oestrogens. They may help relieve vaginal dryness caused by the onset of menopause or hormone therapy (HT). Ask your doctor about these options if you’re experiencing this symptom.
- Over the counter lubricants and moisturisers. These can help with uncomfortable dryness during sex with you partner
When you’re in your pre-menopause stage, weight gain can be a big problem. But before we know how to deal with it, let’s examine why it happens.
As oestrogen levels fall, your body tries to compensate by increasing its production of other hormones like insulin and leptin. This makes it harder for your body to burn fat, which means more fat gets stored in your body when you eat.
Another reason is the loss of muscle mass and bone density during this period. This can make you feel weak and out-of-shape, especially if you’re not exercising regularly. One of the best ways to handle this type of weight gain is by;
- Healthy lifestyle changes: such as eating more fiber-rich foods and cutting back on refined carbs like white flour products, sugar, and sweets. And remember to exercise! Exercise helps boost metabolism and burn excess calories, so you must stay active throughout your life, especially during this phase when your metabolism is slowing down naturally.
Mood Changes and Irritability
External factors like stress at work or home can trigger mood swings and irritability for anyone, but these feelings can be even more intense for women going through pre-menopause. Hormones play a huge role in mood changes during this time, so if you notice that your emotions are out of whack, try some simple stress-relieving techniques:
- Exercise regularly. We can stress on the benefits of exercise enough! Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel happier overall. According to Harvard Health Publications, it also helps reduce anxiety by boosting serotonin levels in the brain, the chemical responsible for regulating moods. Try to fit in 30 minutes of cardio thrice a week or strength training twice a week. Your body will thank you!
- Get enough sleep every night. Sleep deprivation increases cortisol levels, another hormone responsible for stress responses which makes
Difficulty Concentrating and Brain Fog
Difficulty concentrating and brain fog are two of the most common pre menopause signs, but they’re often dismissed as just a part of aging. In fact, hormonal changes caused by menopause can make it harder to focus and stay on task.
When oestrogen levels dip, you may feel more forgetful and disorganised. You may have difficulty concentrating and recalling information, especially during your midlife transition, which can affect your ability to perform well at work or school.
The drop in oestrogen also causes memory problems by weakening the hippocampus, an area of the brain that plays a vital role in learning and memory. This can lead to short-term memory loss, such as forgetting where you put your keys or phone.
The good news is that there are ways to improve concentration and memory during pre-menopause:
- Get enough sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid stressors like over scheduling yourself
- Eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish)
Knowing about These Changes can help you Deal with Them.
You can’t stop the change, but preparing for it is possible. For example, if you know that your sex drive will be affected by lower oestrogen levels, then you’ll be able to understand why it’s happening and plan around it.
You may also want to consider seeing a doctor or therapist who specialises in menopause and hormone therapy so that they can give advice on how best to manage your symptoms as they start occurring.
I hope this article has helped you better understand pre-menopause symptoms and how to deal with them. I know it can be frustrating and confusing, but remember, you’re not alone!