Life Stages | Menopause Awareness Month

September is Menopause Awareness Month (MAM).

Are you a woman over 40?
Have you been experiencing night sweats, hot flushes or anxiety?
Are your joints aching?
Is your skin itchy?

These can all be signs of perimenopause – the lead-up to menopause, which usually begins around the age of 40. It can be a confusing time because we’re often woefully uneducated about this life stage and nobody talks about it which leads to a lot of women not even realising they’re going through it.


How long does perimenopause last?

The menopausal journey begins with perimenopause, lasts anywhere from four to 13 years, leads into menopause itself and goes through to post-menopause. We only know we’ve gone through menopause when a year has gone by since our last period.


Why does menopause occur?

It’s a normal progression and is sometimes called the ‘midlife transition’. It simply means our ovaries have shut up shop in terms of baby-making and producing the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. Things can become uncomfortable during the transition due to wildly fluctuating hormones like oestrogen and progesterone.


Will I experience symptoms?

While some of us will breeze through with nary a sign, others will experience moderate symptoms and around 70 percent of us will experience significant symptoms. Hot flushes are probably the most famous of these, but insomnia and weight gain are common too, along with mood swings, anxiety, depression, irritability and aching joints.


What can you do?

Every woman is physiologically different. That’s why no one can predict how long perimenopause will last. There are no hard and fast rules but there are some lifestyle changes you can make that could make the journey easier for you.

  1. Eat a whole food diet. Get rid of refined carbohydrates and sugars because your body can’t process them like it once did.
  2. Eat lots of vegetables.
  3. Reduce caffeine and alcohol at least during the short term.
  4. Stay hydrated.
  5. Wear cotton clothing (it breathes) and layer. Layering means you can remove pieces during hot flushes.
  6. Don’t over-exercise as it can set off your stress hormone which holds onto belly fat.
  7. Pilates and yoga are great at this life stage as is the breathing that are part and parcel of these practices.
  8. Weight training is great for bone density. Post-menopause our bones weaken.
  9. Practise mindfulness, it helps balance your moods.
  10. Take magnesium to help with sleep.
  11. Ensure you have a minimum of blue light at least an hour before going to sleep – turn off the TV, computer and phone.
  12. Choose appropriate natural supplements to help balance your hormones.
  13. Be gentle with yourself. Self-care is key.
  14.  Avoid medications like antidepressants. There’s a difference between menopause-induced and clinical depression and anxiety.


Natural menopause generally occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, with the average age in New Zealand being 51/52.

The 34 Common Signs Of Perimenopause

1. Allergies

2. Anxiety

3. Bloating

4. Breast tenderness

5. Body odour changes

6. Brain fog

7. Burning mouth syndrome

8. Depression

9. Digestive issues

10. Dizziness

11. Electric shock sensations

12. Fatigue

13. Feelings of dread

14. Hot flushes

15. Hair changes

16. Headaches

17. Incontinence (we highly recommend getting an Elvie – the amazing pelvic floor trainer)

18. Insomnia

19. Irregular heartbeat

20. Irregular menstrual cycle

21. Irritability

22. Itchy skin

23. Joint pain

24. Loss of libido

25. Mood swings

26. Muscle tension

27. Night sweats

28. Oral problems

29. Paresthesia (tingling, burning, numb sensation on the skin)

30. Vaginal dryness

31. Weakened fingernails

32. Weight gain

33. Osteoporosis

NB: This is a general guide only and should not be taken as prescriptive or diagnostic. If you’d like further help or advice please don’t hesitate to visit me at

If you’d like further help or advice please don’t hesitate to visit me at