The 14 most common perimenopause symptoms – and how to manage them through your diet

Do you suspect you may be perimenopausal? Discover the 14 most common perimenopause symptoms, and how you can manage them through your diet.

Perimenopause and menopause are a natural stage of life that commonly affect women between the ages of 40 and 44 (although perimenopause symptoms can start to appear in women as young as 30). 

There are currently over 5.87 million women experiencing the perimenopause or menopause in the UK, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) data.

Unfortunately, many of these women will be suffering with side-effects that can make day-to-day life difficult. But what are the most commonly-experienced symptoms of perimenopause, and can our diet play a part in managing them?

To find out more, women’s health experts Forth conducted a survey of over 4,000 women in the UK that are both over and under the age of 40. The survey aimed to identify whether age impacted which symptoms were experienced, and if so, which symptoms were most prevalent in each age group.

The 14 most common perimenopause symptoms

The results of the survey found that, whilst there were some slight variations between those aged under and over 40, the symptoms experienced were more or less the same. In total, 74% of the women surveyed were experiencing symptoms related to the menopause.

The 14 most commonly-experienced perimenopause symptoms were:

  1. Changes in mood (87%)
  2. Changes in memory (81%)
  3. Poor sleep (80%)
  4. Brain fog (78%)
  5. Digestive issues or frequent bloating (77%)
  6. Joint pain or muscle tension (75%)
  7. Changed sex drive (73%)
  8. Headaches, vertigo or dizzy spells (70%)
  9. Dry or itchy skin (68%)
  10. Increased urgency/frequency to urinate (66%)
  11. Irregular periods (60%)
  12. Night sweats (56%)
  13. Hot flushes (44%)
  14. Vaginal dryness or pain during sex (41%)

Here’s a visual representation of the list:

What’s the cure for perimenopause symptoms?

Unfortunately, there is no magic one-approach-cures-all for perimenopause symptoms, but research suggests that diet can play a big part in managing some of these symptoms.

To guide women that are experiencing symptoms of perimenopause, Forth’s team of women’s health experts have revealed the top foods that women should eat and avoid to help us keep looking and feeling our best during the menopause.

The six foods you should eat during perimenopause

According to the experts, there are six foods in particular that are beneficial during the perimenopause. These are:

  • Lean meats, such as chicken or turkey, to provide protein and reduce snacking between meals.
  • Oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel, for Vitamin D and Omega-3 to support the heart and joints.
  • Leafy greens, such as kale, increase iron and produce healthy red blood cells.
  • Whole grains, like barley and brown rice, are high in magnesium to maintain bone strength.
  • Greek yogurt is high in calcium and assists with bone strength as well as maintaining a healthy gut.
  • Nuts, particularly peanuts and almonds, contain both magnesium and iron, and assist with brain functionality.

Foods that are high in calcium are crucial as women enter the perimenopause, as bone density decreases, potentially leading to conditions such as osteoporosis. Similarly, foods that contain magnesium and iron will help to reduce symptoms such as brain fog.

We go into more detail on the foods you need to eat to reduce your symptoms here, and share five ways going vegan can help you manage menopausal symptoms here.

What foods to avoid during the perimenopause

In addition to eating the right types of foods, reducing your intake of the following foods can also help to reduce menopausal symptoms:

  • High sugar-content foods, such as cake or chocolate, to reduce blood sugar-level fluctuations.
  • Alcohol, as this can make symptoms, such as hot flushes, a lot worse. 
  • Drinks that are high in caffeine, like coffee or energy drinks, to prevent worsening of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) symptoms.
  • Processed foods, such as microwave meals, as these are high in salt and can cause an increased blood pressure.

While there may be some things on this list that you enjoy, experts agree that using your diet to support symptom management requires both eating the right things and avoiding the foods (and drinks) that are likely to do more harm. 

In the end though, for us it all comes down to balance. When you are equipped with the right information you can make a decision on whether you are prepared to accept the possibility of hot flushes for the pleasure a night out drinking wine with your friends can give you.