From low sex drive to hot flashes, how to spot the first signs of perimenopause

Perimenopause effects women differently. Picture: Freepik

Perimenopause effects women differently. Picture: Freepik

Published Sep 26, 2023


As women start approaching their late 40’s they already begin to look out for the early signs of menopause.

When you have no menstrual cycle for a full 12 months, you have officially reached menopause.

Even though women look forward to no longer having their period, the time leading up to menopause, perimenopause, can be physically and emotionally challenging.

If you are over 40 and experience these symptoms below, you could be perimenopausal.

Irregular menstrual cycles

One of the most common early signs of perimenopause is irregular periods.

Women may experience shorter or longer menstrual cycles, heavier or lighter bleeding, or missed periods.

These changes occur due to the fluctuation of hormonal levels, specifically oestrogen and progesterone.

Hot flashes and night sweats

Hot flashes, a sudden feeling of intense body heat accompanied by sweating, are another significant indicator of early menopause.

These episodes can last from a few seconds to several minutes.

Night sweats, which are hot flashes occurring during sleep, can disrupt sleep patterns and result in daytime fatigue.

Hot flashes are a symptom. Picture: Freepik

Vaginal discomfort

As oestrogen levels decline, women may experience vaginal dryness, itching, and discomfort during intercourse.

Reduced oestrogen also affects the elasticity and thickness of vaginal tissues, potentially leading to urinary symptoms such as frequent urination or urinary tract infections.

Change in sex drive

Fluctuating hormonal levels can impact sexual desire and arousal.

Many women may notice a decline in libido, reduced sensitivity, or loss of interest in sexual activities.

Open communication with partners and healthcare professionals is important to maintain healthy intimacy and address concerns.

Low sex drive. Picture: Freepik

Mood swings and emotional changes

Hormonal imbalances during early menopause can contribute to mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and even depressive symptoms.

These emotional changes can be disruptive and impact overall well-being. Seeking emotional support and counselling may be beneficial during this time.

Changes in cognitive function

Some women may experience mild memory lapses, difficulty focusing, and reduced cognitive function during this time.

These changes are often attributed to hormonal fluctuations. Staying mentally active, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and seeking medical advice can help manage these cognitive changes effectively.