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Perimenopause: What Is It and How Can You Feel Better?

Perimenopause: What Is It and How Can You Feel Better?

What on earth is the difference between perimenopause and menopause? Perimenopause is a natural life phase that often comes with a myriad of physical and emotional changes - but given there is a lack of clear, open conversation about menopause, it can be hard to know what to look out for to know you’re in it. With over 1 billion of us set to experience perimenopause by the year 2025, you’re not alone if you’re feeling confused. We sat down with our Co-Founder and women’s health expert, Dr. Sarah Welsh, to understand the ins and outs of perimenopause.

What is Perimenopause?

Perimenopause is the stage leading up to and around when menopause happens. The word "perimenopause" comes from the Greek word ‘peri’ meaning around and ‘menopause’ meaning the end of the monthly cycles.

The start of perimenopause isn’t clearly defined, so it can be difficult to tell when you’re perimenopausal and the arrival of symptoms can be a bit of a rude surprise. Perimenopause typically starts around a woman’s 40s but can occur earlier or later based on the individual. It can last up to 10 years, but the average time that a woman spends in perimenopause is 4 years, and for some women much shorter.

During perimenopause, hormone levels begin to fluctuate, especially oestrogen. This can lead to a number of symptoms such as irregular menstrual cycles, hot flushes, mood swings, and sleep disturbances. These symptoms send a whopping 90 percent of women to their doctors asking for advice on how to cope.

What Are the Main Symptoms of Perimenopause?

There are four symptoms of perimenopause that seem to be the most common, known as the ‘core four’; hot flashes, sleep disruption, depression, and vaginal dryness. But, the full cacophony of symptoms related to perimenopause is not completely understood. At this point in time, the perimenopausal period has been linked to over 40 ailments ranging from hair loss to burning mouth syndrome - and yes, that’s as uncomfortable as it sounds.

According to Dr. Sarah, “Perimenopause symptoms can creep in slowly. They can be quite generic in nature, and many women don’t seem to notice them at first, which can make it difficult to pinpoint when they started feeling a change.” So while we can share with you the most common symptoms, each woman will experience their symptoms differently.

  • Irregular bleeding or heavy bleeding: As hormone levels fluctuate, you might first notice that your periods become longer or shorter than usual, lighter or heavier, or you may skip your period altogether.
  • Hot flashes: Hot flashes are sudden waves of heat across the upper body and face, which can be accompanied by profuse sweating that lasts for several minutes. Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of perimenopause.
  • Changes in metabolism: Many women in perimenopause will experience a slow in their metabolism, which can lead to weight gain and a change in body levels.
  • Mood changes: Fluctuating hormones can cause many changes in your mood; women during this time often experience anxiety, panic attacks, irritability, low self-esteem, and depressive episodes.
  • Vaginal dryness: As oestrogen starts decreasing, your vagina and cervix start producing less lubrication, and the vaginal tissue becomes thinner and drier.
  • Brain fog: Oestrogen and progesterone are crucial for cognitive function and memory, as these hormones begin to decrease it can cause the dreaded ‘brain fog’, making it difficult to concentrate.
  • Sleep disturbances: Night sweats become more frequent during perimenopause as oestrogen is responsible for keeping your body temperature low at night.

What Can You Start Doing to Feel Better?

“While perimenopause is a natural phase of life, it can be incredibly overwhelming and alienating, so ensuring you are making changes to your lifestyle and seeking treatment where possible can completely change your experience of perimenopause,” says Dr. Sarah Welsh.

1. Prioritise Self-Care

Incorporating stress-relieving activities into your daily routine can help you overcome some of the psychological symptoms that come with perimenopause. Focus on things that you really enjoy, such as yoga, breathing exercises, or meditation. We all have busy lives, and it can be hard to incorporate time-intensive activities, so it might even just be making sure you’re spending time purely on yourself. Reading a book, listening to your favourite podcast when you’re washing up or having an hour alone to binge your favourite Netflix series - it all counts.

2. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Focus on a balanced diet rich in high-quality plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Regular exercise can also improve mood, sleep, and weight management. You may find that limiting alcohol and caffeine intake will improve your quality of sleep and reduce those pesky hot flushes.

Ensuring you are getting the right nutrients is essential for improving your overall well-being during perimenopause, as deficiencies in certain vitamins can amplify your symptoms. We launched HANX Menopause Support, our all-natural nutritional supplement, based on the experiences of our community. You DM-ed, emailed, and door stopped us at events to share all about the symptoms that you felt were having a negative impact on your daily life. From Vitamin B12 to Pantothenic acid, we’ve made sure it’s jam-packed full of vitamins that can help you start feeling like yourself again.

3. Use Vaginal Moisturisers or Lubricants

Vaginal dryness can be common in perimenopause due to hormonal fluctuations, but that doesn’t mean pleasure is off the table. Using a gentle, non-irritating lubricant can help improve your sexual function by reducing friction and discomfort during intercourse.

4. Seek Support

You are not alone in this phase of your life - even though there are still societal taboos around discussing the realities of perimenopause. Connect with friends, family, or support groups such as Menopause Support UK to share experiences and gain insights into managing perimenopause effectively.



Perimenopause is a natural phase of life that can look very different from person to person. By understanding the range of symptoms and implementing proactive strategies for self-care, you can navigate this transition with greater ease and feel empowered to embrace the changes ahead.

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