First Signs of Perimenopause: Hormonal Chaos Unleashed

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Hello friends! Today, we’re delving deep into a subject that hits close to home – the wild and unpredictable journey of perimenopause. Chances are you are here because you either are or suspect you are beginning your own journey into perimenopause. Well, welcome to your own personal hormonal hellscape!

Let me set the scene: I’m cruising through life, inching into my 40s, finally relishing that sense of comfort within my own skin, and confidently thinking I’ve got this whole life thing sorted out. Then, out of nowhere, my body decides it’s time to pull a 180-degree turn on me. It felt like a sudden bout of madness accompanied by random heat waves that had me questioning reality. The term “perimenopause” wasn’t even in my vocabulary. So naturally, I did what any curious soul would do – I turned to Google. That’s when the rough road ahead became clear.

Understanding the Perimenopause Prelude: What Is It?

Somewhere in your mid 30s to early 50s, your hormones decide it’s time to turn your life into a full-fledged roller coaster ride to the netherworld. Enter perimenopause, the phase where your body gleefully abandons all sense of normalcy and embarks on a journey that’s less of a symphony and more of a descent into hormonal hell. And guess what? Hormones don’t care about schedules. They’re like that unexpected guest who crashes the party and refuses to leave. They might show up fashionably early or fashionably late, just to keep you on your toes. And don’t worry, they’re not in a hurry; this party can last for several years.

During this tumultuous journey, your hormone levels fluctuate wildly, creating a rollercoaster of highs and lows within your body. It’s as if your body has declared war on itself, leaving you to grapple with a barrage of symptoms that have no respect for your plans and routines. But fear not, because amidst this upheaval, the distinctive signs and symptoms of perimenopause make their entrance. You’ll soon find yourself sharing these experiences with friends over cups of coffee (or something a bit stronger).

So, let’s take some time together and have a candid conversation about those early signs of perimenopause, how to wrangle them like a pro, and toss in a few extra nuggets of wisdom along the way.  

Peering into the Abyss: 11 Early Signs and Symptoms of Perimenopause

Ah, the delightful array of symptoms that perimenopause gifts us. If you thought life was getting too predictable, don’t worry! From mood swings that rival a telenovela plot twist to hot flashes that could probably power a small village, perimenopause has got you covered. It’s like a twisted game of hormonal roulette, where you never quite know what symptom will pop up next and others you never would expect are connected to perimenopause.

  1. Ridiculously Wild Mood Swings: Suddenly, you’re the star of a soap opera, and every emotion is dialed up to eleven. One moment, I was convinced I could tackle world domination; the next, I found myself reflecting on the embarrassing mishaps of my seventh-grade self, all within the span of a commercial break.
  2. Hot Flashes from the Depths: Remember those childhood nightmares where you’re stuck in a desert with no water? Well, welcome to hot flashes – they’re basically that, minus the sand. The heat would get so intense that I would willingly shed layers regardless of where I was. Keep that handheld fan handy, because it’s about to become your new best friend.
  3. Sleep Struggles, Anyone?: If you’ve always wanted to know what it feels like to be a night owl and an insomniac simultaneously, perimenopause’s got your back. I would dread bedtime, knowing it was going to be a long night only to finally fall asleep right before the alarm went off in the morning.
  4. Periods Gone Wild: Your once predictable menstrual cycle has decided to go rogue. Irregular periods, heavier flows, shorter cycles – it’s like your body has a short circuit. The anxiety about this unpredictable cycle threw me back to the awkwardness of my early puberty days when I was still trying to grasp the concept of having a cycle at all.
  5. The Night Sweats: As if navigating sleep during perimenopause wasn’t already a masterclass in survival, enter the night sweats. One moment I would be cocooned in sheets that felt like a makeshift sauna wrap, convinced I had accidentally set the bed on fire, and the next, I’m shivering in a damp, icy bed. It’s like a relentless game of temperature roulette that makes you question your relationship with air conditioning and bedding choices.
  6. Cognitive Chaos: Ever walk into a room and forget why you’re there? Welcome to perimenopause, where your brain’s acting like a treasure map with a questionable sense of direction. This happened so often to me that I ultimately surrendered, adopting a personal mantra: “I am not losing it, I am not losing it!”
  7. Low Libido Dilemma: Remember that sizzling romance novel playing in your mind? Well, it might be time to shelve it. Suddenly, a good night’s sleep trumps a steamy chapter. This hit me hard, catching me off guard. I never anticipated this symptom, yet there I was, feeling like a stranger to myself, my sense of allure vanishing into thin air. With mood swings ruling the roost and quality sleep becoming a distant memory, this was the cherry on top. It’s what ultimately nudged me to seek guidance from my doctor.
  8. Energy Levels Playing Hide and Seek: One day, you’re ready to conquer the world; the next, even getting out of bed feels like summiting Everest. Patience with yourself is key here. Trust me, I’ve been there. The days of feeling invincible would lead me to compile ambitious to-do lists, only to wake up the next morning utterly drained and motivation deprived.  
  9. The Dryness Chronicles: Let’s talk about vaginal dryness, shall we? It’s like your body decided that your nether regions are a desert that needs zero hydration. Again, this is another one I did not expect to have issues with, but again Mother Nature decided it would be fun to show me who was really in charge here.
  10. Hair and Skin Shenanigans: Well now your hair and skin decide to join the rebellion, embracing unpredictable behavior like it’s the latest trend. Thinning hair and surprise acne breakouts? Oh yes, perimenopause has truly outdone itself this time. Now, if someone told me a few years ago that I’d be dealing with acne at this age, I’d have laughed. But here I am. And as for my hair? It was once the envy of my friends, thick and luscious. Well, perimenopause decided to rewrite that script too.
  11. Weight Whirlwind: Remember the days when you could devour a cupcake without a second thought? Perimenopause not only laughs at that memory but also decides to throw a weighty wrench into the mix. This was probably the most annoying perimenopausal symptom I have dealt with because I didn’t change my diet or exercise routine. Ah, the joys of perimenopause – the gift that keeps on giving…10 pounds later.

Surviving the Fiery Abyss: Natural Tactics to Tame the Hormonal Inferno

Congratulations, you’ve been initiated into the world of perimenopause symptoms! Now, let’s talk about taking back a semblance of control. While you can’t exactly put your hormones in timeout, you can try some natural tricks to ease the tumultuous ride:

  1. Stay Chill (Literally): When perimenopause cranks up the heat, it’s time to get creative. Embrace ice packs or wield your trusty handheld portable fan. And when it comes to bedtime, light pajamas and breathable linen bedding might just become your new BFFs. Oh, and here’s a pro tip: pop a frozen cold pack under your pillow and orchestrate a strategic pillow flip throughout the night to keep your head in the blissfully cool zone.
  2. Sweat It Out: Let’s chat about exercise without conjuring images of boot camps or over-the-top workouts. According to the wise folks at the Mayo Clinic, dedicating just 30 minutes or more a day, three to five days a week, to some physical activity can give your mood swings a run for their money. Even 10 to 15 minutes of movement can sprinkle positivity into your day. And if you’re up for more vigorous activities like running or biking, you’ll score extra mood-boosting points. Just remember, these mental health perks stick around if exercise becomes a habit. Oh, and let’s not forget the bonus: you’ve got the perfect excuse to rock active wear all day, every day. Whether you’re sweating or sipping, those leggings are your style statement.
  3. Eat Wisely: Give a nod to the Mediterranean diet – the one that adores veggies, fruits, and whole grains. Believe it or not, this culinary lifestyle isn’t just a hot-flash reducer; it’s also a cholesterol warrior, backed by the Cleveland Clinic. Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: those tempting treats like coffee, processed sugar, and fats, and even alcohol (yes, my favorites too). Your hormones might be staging a rebellion, but your diet doesn’t need to join the chaos. So, here’s to savoring every bite without giving your hormones another reason to throw a fit.
  4. Sleep Sanctuary: Think of your bedroom as your personal haven of tranquility – dimmed lights, noise dialed down to a blissful hush, and a temperature that says “perfect sleep” like a lullaby. This sacred space is reserved for two things: rest and… well, you know. Wind down before the snooze-fest with a good book, soothing tunes, or a luxurious soak in the tub. Up your sheet game with breathable fabrics, set the AC to arctic, and don’t hesitate to employ a white noise machine to drown out the hormonal theatrics (or let’s be real, the hormonal chaos). Your sleep, your rules.
  5. Evict Stress (Because Who Needs Drama?): Alright, let’s dive into the Zen zone, the stress-relief dream team: deep breathing (not as dramatic as it sounds, promise), yoga (flexibility for the body and mind), the gloriousness of a massage, and the tranquility of meditation. These aren’t just activities; they’re your survival kit for escaping the hormonal circus – at least temporarily. Let’s be honest, nothing says “I’m too fabulous for your chaos” like taking a moment for yourself. And hey, if you need more escape routes, I’ve got a whole blog post – Self-Care Sunday: 47 Invigorating Ideas for a Vibrant You.
  6. Hormonal Happy Hour (With Friends, Not Just Wine): Grab your squad, because while they might not have a PhD in hormones, they’re the A-team when it comes to listening. Odds are, they’re battling their own perimenopausal demons. Sharing your symptom saga with your pals is like giving your hormonal pressure cooker a well-deserved release valve. Turns out, having strong social connections is like a magic potion against health woes. Think lower risks of blues, blood pressure drama, and BMI troubles. According to the Mayo Clinic the folks with meaningful connections might outlive their less-social peers. So, remember, the next time you’re unloading your perimenopausal woes, you’re not just venting – you’re investing in your well-being, one chat at a time.
  7. Herbal Allies: Mother Nature has a few tricks up her sleeve that might just make your hormonal hell a bit easier with some natural remedies for perimenopause. These herbal allies aren’t just random plants – they’ve been whispered about in ancient herbal lore for their potential to offer a gentle hand in managing symptoms.
    • Black Cohosh: Picture this root as your backstage pass to coolness. It’s historically been used to tackle hot flashes and night sweats, offering a calming touch to your internal temperature tantrums.
    • Chastetree Berry: This berry is like a traffic cop for your hormones, helping to steer the estrogen and progesterone parade. It’s all about keeping things moving smoothly on the hormone highway.
    • Ashwagandha: Say hello to adaptogenic magic from the Ayurvedic realm. Ashwagandha might just give you a dose of Zen while handling the mood swings and stress of hormonal turbulence.
    • Maca Root: Let’s welcome the mighty maca to the stage. Hailing from the Andes, this root is like a nutritional superhero, rumored to enhance energy, mood, and even… ahem, intimacy.

Before you dive headfirst into these herbal adventures, consult with your healthcare provider. After all, perimenopause is a journey, not a solo expedition into the botanical Wild West. Let’s give nature a shot at managing this hormonal circus, shall we?

Navigating the Abyss: Seeking Expert Guidance

Finding a healthcare provider who’s well-versed in the art of hormonal changes can truly be a game-changer. Start by seeking recommendations from your current doctor or scouting out specialists in your area. The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) can be a valuable resource to locate a menopause-focused provider near you.

Remember, you’re not alone on this fiery ride to perimenopausal hell – there are experts out there who can help you brave the flames. However, you must be your own advocate here. I’ve heard one too many frustrating stories from friends and family about doctor visits that left them feeling unheard. Personally, I’ve found solace in a functional medicine doctor. Together, we chart out a strategy that resonates with both of us, making it a true partnership in this journey.

To Test or Not to Test: Confirming Perimenopause

While the urge to declare “Hormonal Armageddon!” might be strong, a test can provide a more nuanced confirmation. However, it’s crucial to note that there’s no single foolproof test for perimenopause. Doctors typically evaluate your symptoms, menstrual patterns, and hormonal fluctuations to assemble the intricate puzzle of your hormonal landscape. So, even though there isn’t a definitive perimenopause litmus test, your body’s flamboyant display of symptoms can serve as the unmistakable indicator – even if hormone tests fail to reflect it accurately.

Remember, when hormone tests don’t align with your perimenopause symptoms, stand your ground. Your feelings are valid, and you deserve appropriate treatment that acknowledges the unique challenges you’re facing. Your journey, your rules.

In the Fiery Embrace: Conclusion

Perimenopause – a chapter where the fires of hormonal chaos burn fiercely. Yet, keep in mind, you’re not merely enduring; you’re emerging stronger amidst the inferno. Whether you’re wrestling with mood swings or waging war against night sweats, remember that solidarity accompanies you. This journey may be one formidable ride, but it’s within your power to overcome. So, I raise my cup of soothing herbal tea to you – you’re more than equipped to face this challenge head-on!

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  1. I am in this age range and experiencing some of these symptoms myself, yet perimenopause wasn’t even on my radar. Thank you for this informative post and great tips!

  2. You have an awesome way with words! I would have never considered putting an ice pack under my pillow at night but is a great suggestion. Also, those blankets sound heavenly.

    I have been in perimenopause for a long time. I wish menopause would finally kick in because this has been a long road. You described it well.

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