Symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and perimenopause can look and feel very similar. Depending on your age it may be very obvious that you just have PMS, or are just in perimenopause, but also depending on your age, you could have both.
Perimenopause and PMS can coincide. Perimenopause is a long stage in a woman’s life when her body is preparing for menopause and unresolved PMS symptoms can make a woman’s transition out of her fertile years a difficult one. For most women, perimenopause begins around age 40 and can last as little as a few years and as much as 12 years. It is possible to be starting perimenopause and still have PMS.
Here is a quick symptom tracker guide to help you to determine which phase you are in!
Common PMS symptoms are
- Breast tenderness
- Irritability, depression, anger, sadness, guilt
- Change in bowel habits – either diarhhea or constipation
- Food cravings – can be extra sweet or extra salty
- Water retention and/or difficulty losing weight
Women in perimenopause may also feel and experience
- Moodiness, depression, irritability
- Excess weight around the middle
- Cravings for sweet foods
In addition, perimenopausal symptoms include
- Vaginal dryness
- Loss of libido
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Difficulty sleeping at night usually due to night sweats
- Mid-section weight gain
- Irregular periods – usually one of the first signs of menopause correlated with age
In perimenopause, your periods may get
- Heavier or lighter
- Further apart or closer together
If you have the above listed symptoms and are wondering if you are in perimenopause the best and easiest way to distinguish between the two is: if your periods are occurring regularly, it’s PMS and if your periods are becoming erratic, its perimenopause.
In each circumstance, both PMS and a symptomatic perimenopause is correlated with a hormone imbalance. For further blood test investigations on hormone levels and to receive appropriate nutrition advice speak to a qualified nutritional therapist and/or general practitioner.
Written by Marianna Sulic - qualified nutritionist