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Alex Allan Nutrition
By Alex on 09/10/23 | Women's Health

Is it the Menopause?

Officially menopause is when you’ve gone for 12 months without a period at all which signifies the end of female reproductive capabilities.  However, most symptoms occur in the 2-10 years leading up this – which is known as perimenopause.

Unfortunately, there's no specific blood test for perimenopause. And this is where a lot of confusion starts to arise. Many of my clients have odd symptoms which send them to the GP, only to realise a couple of years later that it was probably perimenopause…

I often use the DUTCH test, a dried urine test, which can be very useful in looking at a complete balance of sex and stress hormones during this turbulent time. While testing hormones during perimenopause and menopause is not often done in conventional medicine, understanding hormone levels and their metabolism (as well as assessing our stress levels) can help guide recommendations to support women during this stage in their life. Do get in touch with me if you’d like to discuss this further.

But what are the symptoms of perimenopause?  Because our hormones affect our whole bodies, not just our sexual characteristics, perimenopause can bring a whole heap of symptoms with it, such as:

  • Increased allergies/intolerances
  • Anxiety
  • Bloating & other digestive problems
  • Increased body odour
  • Brain fog
  • Chills
  • Depression or low mood
  • Fatigue
  • Forgetfulness
  • Gum problems
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hot flushes/flashes
  • Irregular periods
  • Increased irritability
  • Itchy skin
  • Joint aches & pains
  • Low sex drive
  • Osteoporosis
  • Pain or bleeding during sex
  • Panic attacks
  • Pins & needles
  • Night sweats
  • Sleep disturbances/ insomnia
  • Sore boobs
  • Thinning/ dry hair
  • Urinary incontinence
  • More UTIs (like cystitis)
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Weight gain

(Please note: some of these symptoms may not be perimenopause – so if you’re worried, do check with your GP!).

When and how we suffer tends to be based on a combination of genes, our health, and our environment. If you can, it might be good to ask your mum when she had hers and how it affected her. But, overall, it’s one helluva time. No wonder it’s sometimes called second puberty.

Most of the symptoms we have are due to fluctuating oestrogen and intermittent progesterone, brought about by the natural retirement of our ovaries.

Why is oestrogen so important?

Well, we have receptors to oestrogen all over our bodies – they’re not just responsible for the reproductive cycle.  They are found in our brains, bones, guts – just about everywhere. 

Oestrogen helps us build muscle, regulates bone density, and promotes healthy skin. It helps maintain healthy brain function. It looks after our heart and cholesterol levels. And it even has a hand in our gut function. But probably most noticeably is abdominal weight gain or ‘menobelly’. This is where we start to gain weight around our middles that we possibly didn’t have before, and it’s now more difficult to get rid of too. 

So, how do you know if you’re in menopause?

As a rule of thumb, we can tell that it’s probably perimenopause if you’re having:

  1. Irregular cycles with no other possible cause


  1. If you’re still cycling but have any three of the following nine changes:
  1. new-onset heavy and/or longer periods
  2. shorter menstrual cycles ie 25 days or less
  3. new sore, swollen or lumpy breasts
  4. new waking during the night
  5. increased menstrual pain
  6. onset of night sweats, particularly in the lead up to your period
  7. new or increased migraines
  8. new or increased PMS
  9. unexplained weight gain 

If you’re still not certain, check in with your GP or nurse, or book in a free call with me here at the clinic. 

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