So what perimenopause symptoms do women really have?
Women from countries around the world were asked about their perimenopausal symptoms. Countries included Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Phillipines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand as well as US, UK, Australia, Canada, Finland and Hong Kong.Guess which symptom came up most often?
Was it hot flashes, flushes and night sweats?
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In fact the most common symptom reported by midlife women was headache.
Surprisingly, hot flushes, flashes or night sweats came into the top 4 complaints in only 6 of the populations studied (Canada, Finland, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and UK).
Then came joint problems, irritability, lack of energy and nervous tension.
And just look at the huge range of problems included in the top 4 complaints:
• dry skin,
• problems sleeping,
• aching or stiff joints,
• lack of energy,
• nervous tension,
• hot flashes,
• shoulder stiffness,
• lumbago, fatigue or weakness,
• memory loss,
• night sweats.
Data from Leidy Sievert L. Menopause, a biocultural perspective.Rutgers University Press, New Jersey, 2006.
So what do all these symptoms mean?
Are they really all due to the menopause and can they really be called perimenopause symptoms?
In fact very few of the common midlife discomforts are definitely caused by the biological process of menopause.
Midlife aches and pains ... men get them too!
of the symptoms in the list above are just symptoms of the years passing by - so not surprisingly, men get them too,
So where does this leave all of us bemused middle aged women?
Medicine still has a lot to learn about the relationship between changing hormone levels and the occurence of different symptoms. But blaming all our niggles on menopause doesn't fit with what science knows today.
You can read more about the scientific evidence linking menopause and midlife problems here.
It's the end of the first decade of the 21st century and medical science still doesn’t have a clear cut, unambiguous and non-controversial understanding of the time around when our periods go topsy turvy and then stop altogether.
Yes, normal human female physiology and medical science hasn't got a grip of it yet.
Last updated: May 2013