Understanding Perimenopause and Menopause

Understanding Perimenopause and Menopause

14 / Jul

How Do I Manage Perimenopause and Menopause?

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As women reach middle age, they often enter a stage called perimenopause and menopause. During these stages, women’s hormone levels fluctuate which can cause many different physical, emotional and mental changes. It is important to understand what perimenopause and menopause are and how to manage these changes more effectively. In this article, we will look the definitions, symptoms, signs, triggers, and how to manage perimenopause and menopause more effectively. We also share some interesting statistics and FAQs.

What Is Perimenopause and Menopause?

Perimenopause is the period before menopause when hormone levels start to decline. This usually starts in the late 40s or early 50s but can also start earlier. In some cases, perimenopause can start as early as the mid-30s and last up to 10 years. During this time, the ovaries will produce less oestrogen which leads to irregular cycles, hot flashes and night sweats.

Menopause, on the other hand, is the point when woman’s menstrual cycles have stopped for 12 consecutive months which marks the end of her reproductive years. Once again, the age might vary but it’s usually between 45 and 55. Although it can sometimes occur naturally and premature, the cause is often unknown but some reasons for the onset may include the following:

  • surgery to remove the ovaries (oophorectomy)
  • surgery to remove the uterus (hysterectomy)
  • cancer treatments such as chemotherapy
  • genetic reasons

Symptoms of Perimenopause and Menopause

Menopause and perimenopause can cause various uncomfortable symptoms, such as anxiety, mood swings, brain fog, hot flushes, and irregular periods among many others. These may start years before your periods end and continue for some time after. While the physical and psychological symptoms of perimenopause and menopause may vary from woman to woman, the most common include:

  • Irregular periods
  • Hot flashes and night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness and discomfort during intercourse
  • Mood changes, such as irritability, anxiety, and depression
  • Insomnia and fatigue
  • Decreased libido
  • Weight gain and changes in body shape
  • Hair loss and dry skin
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Joint pain
  • Breast tenderness
  • Urinary urgency or incontinence
  • Bloating and water retention
  • Headaches, dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Heart palpitations

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and they are affecting your quality of life, talk to your GP or pharmacist. They can provide you with the necessary information, support and guidance on what treatments or lifestyle changes might be best for you.

Triggers For Perimenopause and Menopause

The main trigger of perimenopause is the lower levels of reproductive hormones, especially oestrogen which helps regulate the menstrual cycle and contributes to healthy bones, skin and mood. As oestrogen levels decrease, the body starts to experience changes in hormone production which can cause peri-menopausal symptoms.

While peri-menopause and menopause are natural phases of a woman’s life, there are several triggers that can worsen the symptoms and make it more challenging, including:

  • Smoking and the exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Lack of regular exercise and poor nutrition
  • Certain medications, such as antidepressants and blood pressure medicines

How To Manage Peri-menopause and Menopause

An important step in managing perimenopause and menopause is understanding how to cope with the symptoms. Many women find that lifestyle modifications such as exercise, eating a healthy diet and getting enough rest can help improve physical and emotional symptoms while others use medicines to replace the missing hormones to help relieve their symptoms. Some may opt for alternative treatments, such as acupuncture or herbal medication but be sure to ask your GP or pharmacist for advice before using complementary therapies or medication.

Menopause and perimenopause symptoms can have a big impact on your life, including relationships and work. Here are some tips to manage perimenopause and menopause:

  • Keep to regular sleeping patterns or routines
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day to maintain bone density and reduce the risk of heart disease
  • Start practicing stress-reducing techniques (yoga, tai chi, meditation or deep breathing)
  • Don’t smoke and be sure to limit alcohol and caffeine intake
  • Use lubricants and moisturisers to relieve vaginal dryness and discomfort during intercourse
  • Talk to your doctor about hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which can alleviate symptoms some of the symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats
  • The blood pressure medicine Clonidine and an epilepsy medicine called Gabapentin can also help with hot flushes and night sweats
  • Take calcium and vitamin D supplements to maintain bone health (calcium-rich food like milk, yoghurt and kale can help)

If you are experiencing severe symptoms that may need medical attention, talk to your GP or a nurse as soon as you can.

Benefits of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

Hormone Replacement Therapy can provide considerable relief from the most common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, including hot flushes, brain fog, joint pains, mood swings and vaginal dryness. It can also reduce your risk for hormone-related illnesses such as osteoporosis or heart diseases. With HRT, hot flushes usually start subsiding within a few weeks while other issues – like mood changes or vaginal dryness – may take several months to improve.

Managing Anxiety and Stress

With the onset of menopause, stress levels can become overwhelming and exacerbate physical and emotional symptoms. It is essential to learn how to manage this tension by utilising strategies like deep breathing, mindfulness meditation, yoga or journaling. Moreover, having a strong support system of family and friends can be hugely beneficial as well as seeking professional help from a mental health expert when needed.

Getting Support For Menopause

Experienced medical professionals such as GPs, nurses, and pharmacists can provide valuable advice for those going through perimenopause and menopause. Alternatively, women can consult a specialised NHS private menopause specialist with years of experience.

There are organisations such as The Menopause Charity or Menopause Matters that offer invaluable guidance and support. If you need professional help with your mental health, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is also available.

Why go private?

Ideally all menopause care would be available on the NHS but sadly, at present this is not the case for many women as GPs are under immense pressure with rising workloads and reduced staffing levels and trying to advise women during a short appointment can be challenging. A private consultation can give you plenty of time in a relaxed setting to discuss your symptoms, to look at all your options for improving how you are feeling whilst considering  your future health.

Our aim is to spend time working out the right HRT options for you and to then get you back to your GP for ongoing NHS prescriptions and follow up if possible. Alternatively a private prescription can be issued to obtain at our pharmacy.

We  can also look at your lifestyle and how this can be improved. However it can be so much easier to make lifestyle changes once HRT has improved your debilitating symptoms.

Some women may request HRT from their GP but are told it is not safe for them to start or to continue it long-term due to underlying health conditions or their family history. In many cases certain types of HRT can be prescribed safely. Other women may have been told to stop HRT after 5 years or once they have reached 60 but would now like to restart it. If indicated we can write to your GP to advise them about the current evidence on the safety of HRT in your particular case. For most women under the age of 60,  the benefits outweigh any risks and long-term HRT can significantly reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.


Peri-menopause and menopause are natural phases of a woman’s life, but they can cause a range of physical and emotional symptoms that can affect daily life. It is important to understand what they entail, the symptoms and triggers and how to manage peri-menopause and menopause effectively to maintain good health and quality of life. By adopting healthy lifestyle habits, seeking medical advice when needed, and using available treatments, women can navigate this transition with more ease and comfort.

Chippenham Pharmacy has also launched a menopause clinic to provide support to all women experiencing perimenopause and menopause. For more information or to book a private consultation our pharmacist, please get in touch. Our friendly, professional and highly experienced team is here to help.

FAQs: Menopause and Perimenopause

Click the + to read any answer or then either a category or tag to view all questions under that category or tag.

Category: Menopause

As hormone levels fluctuate during perimenopause, it is not uncommon for women to experience bouts of mood swings and anxiousness. Even the slightest thing can set them off which often causes arguments with their partners. Despite being difficult to manage, understanding these symptoms could be key in helping address any issues that may arise personally and within relationships.

Category: Menopause

Menopause is notoriously known to cause hot flashes or hot flushes, occurring in up to 75% of all women. These sudden increases in body temperature are most common before a woman’s last period, and for most, these symptoms tend to last about two years.

Category: Menopause

Women typically experience menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, with a duration of 7 to 14 years but it may depend on lifestyle factors such as smoking habits, the age when it starts, race or ethnicity.

Category: Menopause

Menopause is associated with an array of physical and emotional symptoms with the most common complaints being hot flashes and vaginal dryness. However, other symptoms include sleep disturbances, urinary complaints, sexual dysfunction and changes in mood which can all have a significant impact on overall quality of life.