Early signs and symptoms of menopause

Published July 8, 2014

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The first signs and symptoms of menopause typically occur in the years prior to a woman’s last period, when the body is preparing for the menopausal transition. This time is known as “perimenopause”, and begins when the production of female hormones by the ovaries starts to slow down.

How will I know when I’m nearing menopause?

The earliest sign of menopause will usually be a change in the pattern of your menstrual cycle.1 You may experience lighter or heavier periods and their frequency may also be affected. You may have your period every two weeks or you may not have one for months at a time.1 Every woman’s menopause experience is different and symptoms may be non‐existent or appear gradually over time. Aside from menstrual changes, you may experience some of the following signs that menopause is approaching:2

  • Hot flushes and night sweats
  • General aches and pains
  • Headaches
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Sleeplessness and insomnia
  • Urinary frequency
  • Forgetfulness

How can I help manage these early symptoms of menopause?

It’s possible to relieve some of the uncomfortable early symptoms of menopause with simple lifestyle changes such as:

  • Healthy eating – Consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, legumes and soy based products, and limit the intake of caffeine and alcohol which can trigger hot flushes.2
  • Regular exercise – Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week so you can feel at your best.
  • Stress management – To help with mood changes and sleeping difficulties, try deep breathing, yoga or meditation, listen to music or read a good book.
  • Alter your environment – To relieve hot flushes and night sweats, create a cooler environment using fans or air conditioning, dress in layers so you can remove them as needed and drink plenty of cool water.2

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