Understanding Period Changes in Perimenopause

Understanding Period Changes in Perimenopause

Often not the first symptom you will experience, but definitely one of the more noticeable signs that you are entering perimenopause is a change in your menstrual cycle.

You might experience a change in flow where your periods may be heavier or lighter. You may also experience an erratic cycle, where your periods arrive earlier in some months or later or not at all in others. During the menopause transition, your periods will generally become more and more irregular before stopping completely. When they have stopped for 12 consecutive months, you have effectively reached menopause and then enter the post-menopause stage.

But it’s often not as simple as that. A change in our periods can cause us stress and frustration, for example, when it’s unusually heavy or arrives earlier than expected. We also might experience severe cramping, ovary pain and increased pre-menstrual symptoms or much heavier days that render us unable to participate in certain activities for fear of bleeding through.

The main thing to understand is that this is normal. Period changes in perimenopause are inevitable and occur differently for each woman. Understanding why this is happening, the part hormones play, and what you can do to support yourself during this time will allow you to be more prepared and live more confidently.

What happens to your menstrual cycle during perimenopause

During perimenopause, your estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate from month to month. These changes, while causing other menopause-specific symptoms like hot flushes and night sweats, also affect your menstrual cycle, leading to longer, shorter, heavier or missed periods.

It is actually when progesterone is low, and estrogen is high that you can experience short cycles, heavier flow and periods that are longer or shorter than you’re used to. 

Other lifestyle factors, like stress, smoking, and underlying medical conditions, like PCOS and endometriosis, can affect your menstrual cycle, which is why we recommend that you discuss these changes with your GP to rule out any other contributors or health issues first.

What you can do naturally to support your body through changes in menstrual cycle

While there is no way to ensure you have lighter periods, you can make some simple lifestyle changes to help ease or prevent some of the issues that come with heavy blood loss, like anaemia, fatigue or low energy.

  • Stay hydrated to maintain your blood volume levels; drink up to 4-6 extra cups per day if your periods are heavy.
  • Eat iron-rich foods, like white beans, lean meats, spinach and tofu, to replenish iron lost through bleeding.
  • Eat foods rich in vitamin C to aid with iron absorption, like oranges, tomatoes, strawberries, broccoli, sprouts and capsicums (peppers).
  • Cooking in a cast iron pot has been shown to greatly increase the iron content of many foods. 
  • Apply heat pads to relax your muscles and reduce the pain of cramping.
  • Rest where possible to help fight any fatigue you might feel.

Light exercise can help you feel more energised and able to take on the day, but make sure it's gentle if you're feeling fatigued, like yoga or walking. And always be prepared! Carry extra sanitaryware with you just incase.

How tracking your cycle can help support you through heavy or irregular periods during perimenopause.

You may have tracked your cycle to determine ovulation when becoming pregnant or to help plan special events and holidays so they don’t clash with a period. It’s also a great idea to start recording the frequency and heaviness or lightness of your periods when you’re beginning to experience irregularities.

Recording and tracking your menstrual cycle can help you identify whether you are in perimenopause and understand your symptoms a little better.

Even if you feel you understand your ‘usual’ cycle, it’s a good idea to begin tracking your periods to give you insight into the changes you are experiencing. Regular shorter menstrual cycles (25 days or fewer) has been associated with early menopause and an increased likelihood of experiencing menopausal symptoms in the future.

If you become concerned, you can discuss this invaluable information, along with any other changes or symptoms you are noticing, with your doctor to help diagnose your perimenopause and define the best healthcare plan for you.

Several tracking apps are available to help you track your periods, either built-in on your mobile device and some smartwatches or via paid apps you can install on your phone. You can find these in your app centre and decide which suits your needs best.

Some apps also track your inputs relating to other symptoms such as mood, energy levels, and sleeping patterns. This information can further help you and your healthcare provider understand your behavioural patterns, overall health, and perimenopause journey, giving you a greater sense of control over your body during what can be a confusing time.



Discover our range of evidance-based supplementsdeveloped to address the most common symptoms and support your body and your needs before, during and after this transitionary life stage.


This article has been reviewed by our expert advisory team. 


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