THE BEGINNING OF OUR ‘YEARS OF CHANGE’ - Perimenopause - What is happening to me?

Most of us will notice the tell-tale signs that signal the beginnings of a change, maybe starting with those feelings of “I just need to throw my clothes off, I’m suddenly being overwhelmed by a heat wave”. Maybe having irregular, lighter, or heavier periods; or maybe just feeling a bit ‘bluuugh’; experiencing weight gain, brain fog, irritability. The list of reported ‘signs’ goes on!

This is termed the Perimenopause and can last any time from around 2 to 10 years. Often it will mirror how you were at puberty. Typically, we would expect this any time in our 40s or early 50s but we are all different so there is no ‘expected’ age. The average age of menopause is around 52, again this can vary hugely. As can the number of symptoms you may experience. You may sail through, barely noticing anything, so it’s important to say that not every woman suffers with a pile of troublesome symptoms! 

I remember the moment it dawned on me that I was having my first ‘heat wave’. I was hoovering in my dressing gown and suddenly an overwhelming heat surged through my body, up into my head. I couldn’t get my dressing gown off fast enough! It wasn’t the kind of heat that you get during a workout, or when the weather is hot, it was just, well, different. This is often how it begins for many women.

However, there is no standard procedure here. We are not all the same; our lives are different from each other’s and how our perimenopause begins will be too. What we do know though, is that the better prepared we are for this stage of our life as a woman, and the more knowledge we can gain, the less we are likely to fear it. 

Where are we in our lives at this stage?

Let’s start by looking at what stage of our life we are at as we approach our menopause?

  • You may be Mum to children who may still be dependent on you
  • Your children may have left home to study, work or settle down in their own lives
  • You may be a Daughter of ageing parents
  • You may be someone’s Wife or partner
  • You may have some challenging relationships to deal with
  • You may be working
  • You may be financially more stable with more disposable income
  • You may be free to socialise more regularly
  • You may have more time to enjoy activities that give you pleasure
  • You may be enjoying some new challenges you’ve chosen to add to your life
  • You may have reduced your activity for various reasons and so may be more sedentary
  • You may be feeling lost and surplus to requirements – maybe your children have flown the nest

Some of the above means you may have increased your social life, enjoyed drinking more alcohol, have eaten out more often, have felt less inclined to care - taken the “You Only Live Once - Sod It!” attitude. This in turn may be encouraging weight gain, poor sleep, less energy and as a consequence, low mood. However it could also mean that you may be adding value to your life, enjoying more freedom and are able to do things you can more easily afford.

So we can see already that where we are and what is happening in our lives can have an influence on our wellbeing now or at any stage in our life.  We will cover this in greater detail later in the program, but briefly;

  • Unhealthy levels of stress are likely to have a negative effect on our health and wellbeing. Excess stress hormones are undesirable for many reasons.
  • Uncontrolled, unhealthy eating and drinking habits are detrimental to our health and wellbeing.
  • Lack of exercise is likely to have a negative effect on our health & well-being
  • Poor quality sleep and sleep disturbances have a detrimental effect on our health and well-being
  • Changes to your life may be leaving you with feelings of loss or grief, lower self-worth and feelings of emptiness BUT they could also lead to a positive approach to life and a feeling of new, fresh and exciting times ahead
  • New challenges and experiences can be life-changing, empowering and extremely positive. This time of life can be a great time for taking up new hobbies, challenging yourself and thinking of it as a time of new beginnings. Try to make it your aim to ensure that instead of drowning in the sea of negatives of menopause, you make it a time to take control, make changes and enjoy what can be some of the best years of your life!

Before the perimenopause women’s periods are usually regular and ovulation occurs monthly. Oestrogen levels are steady and we continue with the pattern we have had throughout our reproductive life.

At the start of the perimenopause things begin to alter. Oestrogen levels begin to fluctuate unevenly. Progesterone levels drop. The menstrual cycle can begin to alter, some months we may not ovulate but still have a period. We can still become pregnant at this time. The ovaries produce less and less oestrogen over time and we head towards menopause which is, by definition, when we have not had a period for one year.
The time this takes varies and can last from just a few months to many years. This all typically happens in our 40s but can be before or after then.

There are some possible factors that may cause an earlier perimenopause such as:

  • Being a smoker
  • Family History
  • Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus but not ovaries)

During this time we may begin to notice signals that our hormones are changing. We may begin to experience some of the following;

  • Irregular periods that are shorter, longer, lighter or heavier
  • Some vasomotor symptoms such as hot flushes or night sweats
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Lowered libido
  • Drop in energy
  • Weight gain
  • Feelings of anxiety or low mood, irritability
  • Brain Fog, forgetfulness, lack of concentration

For many women this can be a difficult time, especially if they don’t understand what is happening and why. This is why it is so important to prepare for this time by learning about the natural transition we experience. We need to ensure that we are practicing good self-care and arming ourselves with some strategies that can help us through the menopause.

Unfortunately, when we read anything about the menopause it can often sound fairly horrific and that everything about it is terrible. It doesn’t have to be. The more positively women face this stage of life - the smoother it can be.

When to seek help

Although it is normal to experience some changes in the menstrual cycle in the perimenopause, it is important to seek advice from your Healthcare Provider if you notice any of the following;

  • Very heavy bleeding
  • Bleeding for longer than 7 days
  • Bleeding in between periods
  • Bleeding after intercourse

How do you know if it's the Perimenopause?

Some of the symptoms that we typically experience in our perimenopause can be attributed to other medical issues. If you are concerned about anything that you are experiencing that is new and different always seek medical advice.

Thoughts about the Perimenopause

When women struggle with unwanted symptoms it is natural that they become frustrated by them. Many women just put up with them because they assume it’s just part of what the menopause brings. There is so much we can do to take control and so many strategies that can make a real difference to how you feel in your Years of Change. With my guidance you can either prepare for this time or navigate through this stage armed with some knowledge that can help you have a smoother journey.


Being stressed and anxious about what is a natural part of a woman’s life is sure to exacerbate the symptoms you may be experiencing. If you can accept that this is a natural passage to the third stage of your life, and that just as in puberty it could have its ups and downs, it will make for a more positive experience. 


There is so much information in this program to help you to help yourself. You are not alone in this process so try to communicate with other female friends who are at the same stage of life to support each other. Women supporting women is something I strongly believe in. 

Well-being is for life!

Whether, like me, you have already been through menopause or are preparing for it, the information in the program is relevant to us all. Our aim should be to continue with good practices throughout our later years so that we all live our best possible life and have the best quality of life possible.