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We answer your most Googled questions on perimenopause

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Searching for answers on perimenopause? You’re not alone. Find the answers to the most Googled questions here...
We answer your questions on perimenopause

Perimenopause is a whole new stage of life – so you’re likely to have some questions. 

Maybe you’re wondering if your experience is normal. Or maybe you want to understand what it’s like for someone close to you. 

Jump to: Most Googled questions | Ask H&B: Dr Angela Sharma 

A lot of women don’t realise that they’re going through perimenopause, but it can start for some women in their 30s and is more common than you realise.

Research amongst GB women aged 40+ from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds revealed that over half (51%) state they do not feel represented in the current menopause conversation which focuses on the experiences of white women.

  • 58% of Pakistani women
  • Almost 7 in 10 (67%) Caribbean women
  • 53% of African women…think that the current spotlight in the media on menopause only focuses on the experiences of white women

What you're asking

We’ll be responding to your most Googled questions around menopause below, to help you or your loved ones understand a little bit more about this biological rebirth.

1

What does perimenopause mean?

Menopause is when your periods stop due to hormonal changes as you get older, usually between the ages of about 45 and 55.¹

You’ve officially reached menopause when you haven’t had a period for 12 months without any other reason (such as pregnancy).

Perimenopause is the first of the three stages of menopause. The ovaries produce less oestrogen and your periods become irregular.

2

Which is worse, perimenopause or menopause?

Again, menopause and its three stages (perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause) are different for everyone.

However, hormonal shifts are at their strongest during perimenopause. For most people, this is when symptoms begin and many find this transition the most difficult.

After you’ve reached menopause and enter postmenopause, your oestrogen levels stay consistently low, so some of your symptoms should reduce or stop altogether. However, some people have symptoms for longer.²

3

What are the signs of perimenopause?

Perimenopause is different for everyone. But you might suspect it’s starting if you experience:¹

• Irregular or erratic periods

• Hot flushes

• Vaginal dryness

• Mood changes

• Problems with memory or concentration

• Night sweats and/or trouble sleeping

• Lower sex drive

Perimenopause symptoms can start months or years before your periods actually stop.

Handpicked content: 11 natural remedies for menopause & symptoms

4

How can you help perimenopause symptoms?

Certain lifestyle changes can help you manage your symptoms better. For example, wear light layers you can easily take off if you struggle with hot flushes.

Regular exercise can help support your bones through the changes they experience. It’s an important way to look after your mental health, too.

Getting a balanced diet will also help your body and mind stay at their best. Include lots of bone-supporting calcium, found in milk, yoghurt, and green leafy veg.³

It’s also a good idea to watch your alcohol intake and avoid smoking where possible – not only for your general health, but this may help ease hot flushes and night sweats.³

You may decide to take hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which can be prescribed by your GP if it’s right for you.

5

Will perimenopause anxiety go away?

Yes, even if it needs a little help.

Anxiety can happen during perimenopause for lots of different reasons. You might be nervous about this new stage of life, or about the way it’s impacting you.

While everyone’s experience is different, research suggests that anxiety most often peaks during perimenopause.⁴

There are techniques you can try at home if perimenopause is affecting your wellbeing. Practices like yoga and meditation might work for some people.

But, if you’re worried about your mental health or you’ve been feeling consistently low or anxious, you should see your GP.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy available on the NHS. Some people find it improves their outlook and helps them better manage their low mood or anxiety during perimenopause.

Handpicked content: 5 yoga sessions to refresh at home, with Sarah Malcolm

6

How does perimenopause affect your body?

Oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone all fluctuate and then decrease. These hormones can:⁵

• Support your skin and bone health

• Help keep you hydrated

• Improve your mood

So having less of them can take a toll on your body and mind for a while.

As you produce less of these hormones, your ovaries slow down and will eventually stop releasing eggs. You’ll have less frequent periods and you may experience some symptoms of perimenopause.

You're also significantly more at risk of conditions like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis once these hormones reduce.⁶,

7

Why does perimenopause cause insomnia?

Poor sleep is one of the most common symptoms of perimenopause. According to the Sleep Foundation, 39 to 47% of perimenopausal women struggle to get a good night’s rest.⁸

One reason for this is hormone changes. Oestrogen plays a part in metabolising serotonin, which affects our sleep-wake cycle. And lower levels of progesterone may contribute to issues like sleep apnoea.⁸

Other symptoms – like night sweats, anxiety, and needing the toilet more often – can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, too.

8

Can perimenopause symptoms come and go?

Yes!

You might have certain symptoms through perimenopause and beyond. Some may come and go or appear suddenly. And some symptoms you might not experience at all.

Some symptoms, like joint pain and vaginal dryness, are more likely to continue into menopause and postmenopause.⁹

9

When is perimenopause over?

Perimenopause is over when menopause begins. You officially reach menopause once you haven’t had a period for 12 months.¹

However, you may still experience some of the symptoms that started in perimenopause.

Ask H&B: All about perimenopause with Dr Angela Sharma

H&B store manager, Katherine is joined by Dr Angela Sharma, a qualified GP, Menopause Expert and Sexologist, to talk all things perimenopause.

Watch as they talk through symptoms, what you can expect and their own personal menopause experience. 

All about perimenopause

The final say

We’re all prone to Googling when something feels off. But sometimes you need advice that’s just for you.

Here at Holland & Barrett we’re offering every woman personalised support through a free 1-2-1 consultation with a menopause trained advisor, book in store or online.

Research amongst GB women aged 40+ from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds revealed that more than one in ten (15%) say being able to speak to a GP/ health professional in their own language would make a positive difference.

That’s why we’ve made sure that our online appointments are available with menopause trained advisors who natively speak Urdu, Punjabi, Gujarati and Hindi. Book your consultation online and together, we can navigate your unique menopause journey.

No menopause experience is the same, but each is worth listening to.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 772 40+ Female BAME respondents out of which 650 respondents are in any menopausal period or are unsure. Fieldwork was undertaken between 30th May - 7th June 2023.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted to be representative of GB BAME women aged 40+.

Sources

  1. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/   
  2. https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/womens-health/later-years-around-50-years-and-over/menopause-and-post-menopause-health/after-the-menopause  
  3. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/things-you-can-do/  
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3641149/  
  5. https://www.nhsemployers.org/system/files/2022-03/MSK_Menopause%20Leaflet.pdf  
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5643776/  
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6332715/  
  8. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/women-sleep/menopause-and-sleep  
  9. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/symptoms/  
 
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