What is Perimenopause? ( And How to Support Your Perimenopause Transition)

Perimenopause marks the transitional phase between regular menstrual cycles and the end of your periods. Not to be confused with Menopause, a mere 24-hour affair, celebrating the one-day anniversary of your last cycle.

During perimenopause, you start to lose your reproductive hormones, your cycles become irregular until eventually, they stop. 

In the UK, menopause typically arrives at around 52, while perimenopause usually begins at approximately 43. However, hormonal shifts can kick in as early as your mid-30s.

So, if that extra cup of coffee or a bag of peanut M&Ms (just me?) has become your 3 pm ritual, your hormones might be trying to grab your attention.

Menopause is not a sign of being ‘old’ (there are even cases of people prematurely going through menopause in their 20s) and it's not a sign of your youth and vitality being over! It just marks the beginning of a different phase of your life cycle. 

There are also medical reasons why you might experience menopause earlier than average like the surgical removal of the ovaries (oophorectomy) or in some cases it can be induced by chemotherapy. 

So what happens in perimenopause and why do you need to know about it while you still have periods? 

👉 How to Support Irregular Cycles and Perimenopause

Hitting the Hormonal Rapids

Also known as second adolescence, peri-menopause shares a similar hormonal roller coaster pattern to the mayhem you experience in your teen years. 

If you've got kids going through puberty while you're navigating these choppy waters, you get a front-row seat to this particular blend of hormone crazy. Yay for relatability and mutual support, right?

Now let's get nerdy with the science bit (you know I love me some science) 

The Perimenopause Sequence of Events

The key hormonal players in your cycle are Estrogen and Progesterone. With regular, ovulatory cycles, we stay balanced, and our inner ecosystem ticks over happily... until it doesn't.

During perimenopause, your brain goes through a recalibration process, adjusting to the reduced levels of estrogen and progesterone it has been accustomed to during your cycling years. But unlike Sat Nav, this recalibration can take up to 7 years!

Here’s a little overview of what to expect but please keep in mind, that these are based on averages, and what might be true for you will be different for someone else. 

👉 Remember - There is a broad spectrum of what is considered normal when it comes to our cycles 

Pre-Menopause - Late 30s to Early 40s

This is the stage before perimenopause officially kicks in and you may notice your hormone levels start to fluctuate (cue the Peanut M&Ms).

Early Perimenopause - Mid-40s

Estrogen and Progesterone start to get a bit wonky. This normally starts with -

  • Shorter cycles  21-26 days (although not always, they can become longer)
  • High and wildly fluctuating estrogen (hello second adolensance)
  • The result? Hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings.
Mid Perimenopause - Late 40s
  • Cycles tend to get longer as your periods become further and further apart.
  • Less ovulatory cycles mean less progesterone (because we only make progesterone when we ovulate) and you might experience mood swings, sleep disturbances, hot flushes, night sweats and migraines.
Late Perimenopause - Early 50s
  • Estrogen continues its slow exit, and you might encounter more intense symptoms, such as Sahara-like dryness in lady bits.
  • Menstrual cycles start doing their own thing – less predictable and more distant.
Menopause (Around 52, on average)

Cue the drumroll – you've officially hit menopause when you've had a solid 12-months sans periods.

Post Menopause

Your periods take a permanent vacation, marking the post-menopausal era.

👉 Top 10 Hormones for Cycle Harmony (and how to support them)

Your Cycle: More Than a Baby Factory

Your cycle produces hormones that are crucial not just for baby-making but for long-term health. Each cycle is like a deposit in your hormonal piggy bank, providing support for your future self.

Here's the not-too-shabby part, the more you nurture your cycle health now, the better positioned you are for a smoother perimenopause transition. Understanding your cycle today is basically setting the foundations for your mid-life self.

And as we said before, menopause and menstruation are not separate. They are both part of one life cycle, but s lot of the time, I see 2 things -

👉 People in menopause who wished they had taken more time to understand their cycle.

👉 People with a cycle, oblivious as to why they should take the time to understand it.

Would you dive on the motorway without having learnt how to drive? (Unless you're Red Bull's next daredevil, I'm going with no!)

So why would you expect to be able to navigate perimenopause if you have no idea how to navigate your cycle? (And yes chocolate and painkillers have their place, but that's not what I'm talking about)

Your cycle is the compass that will guide your perimenopause experience. The more you know and understand about how your cycle works now, the more informed about your body you will have to guide you as your body recalibrates itself. 

Why wait to firefight later when you can take more self-loving action now?

How to Support Your Perimenopause Right Now

Fine-tune Your Diet

Opt for a balanced diet rich in calcium, magnesium, and vitamins D and B and include plant-based foods and phytoestrogen-rich options like flaxseeds and soy. And stay hydrated!

👉 5 Food Rules for Happier Hormones (and a Happier You)

Regular Exercise

Engage in activities you enjoy, such as walking, dancing, or yoga, for stress relief and mood management.

👉 Find out how Cyclcial Yoga and Movment can support you here

Catch Quality Zzz’s

Establish a calming bedtime routine and consider meditation or deep breathing for a good night’s rest.

👉 5 Ways to Increase Your Productivity Using Your Circadian Rhythm!

Connect and Communicate

Build a support network to share experiences and gain practical advice.

👉 Follow me on LinkedIn Here For Daily Tips

Educate Yourself

Knowledge is power; attend workshops, read books, and stay informed. And you can start by learning to chart the cycle you have now.

👉 Grab your free workshop and charting tool here to find out how.