Michelle Bridges’ top tips for thriving during perimenopause

Perimenopause and menopause are part of life’s equation for females. Fitness guru Michelle Bridges aims to empower women to navigate the change with confidence.

Perimenopause is the time in a woman’s life when the ovaries slowdown in the lead up to menopause.

For four in five women, this phase of life is associated with symptoms relating to the hormonal changes.

While you probably know about hot flushes and irregular periods, other perimenopause symptoms might be lower on your radar.

“Unlike menopause, which is your final ovulation, perimenopause is a lot more ‘rubbery’ to pinpoint so it can be confusing,” WellFemme Telehealth Menopause Clinic founder Dr Kelly Teagle says.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that perimenopause is so different from woman to woman – for example, some women can be in perimenopause and have periods like clockwork, Dr Teagle says.

“It’s very common in early perimenopause for women to have regular periods accompanied by subtle changes and symptoms related to hormonal changes,” she notes.


7 surprising symptoms of perimenopause

No two women experience perimenopause in exactly the same way, but it pays to be across some of the more surprising symptoms this life stage can deliver, including:

  • Heart palpitations: Lower levels of oestrogen can cause some women to experience an irregular heartbeat that lasts for just a few seconds or as long as a minute or two.
  • Burning mouth: A burning sensation on the tongue, or the roof or sides of the mouth, or even the gums and lips, is another common symptom.
  • Anxiety: Some women experience anxiety at this life stage, even if they haven’t in the past.
  • Sore muscles and joints: Perimenopause can also result in muscle tension and aching joints.
  • Headaches: Fluctuating oestrogen levels and a decline in progesterone production can trigger hormonal headaches, particularly towards the end of a cycle.
  • Itchy skin: Some women also experience skin problems, including itching and “crawling skin”, which feels like insects are crawling beneath the skin.
  • Mood swings: Fluctuating hormone levels may also cause extreme and erratic mood swings.


How to manage perimenopause with confidence

Make positive changes

Dr Teagle, who recently launched the Next Phase Women’s Wellness Program for women in the menopausal transition, is also one of the experts acclaimed Australian personal trainer Michelle Bridges speaks to in her brand-new program, The Menopause Method.

Over 12 weeks, The Menopause Method delivers nutrition advice and meal plans, tailored workouts, and mindset tools and tips from some of Australia’s most qualified menopause experts.

Michelle was inspired to create it when loyal followers of her now 13-year-old 12 Week Body Transformation program began asking her for something to help navigate this life stage – and then she started going through perimenopause herself.

“My aim with this program is to reframe menopause from being a ‘wave the white flag’ moment, or even one that’s associated with a sense of shame and ‘being old’, to one that’s an opportunity to go into this time of your life – and beyond – more equipped and potentially fitter and stronger than you’ve ever been,” Michelle says.

Look after your bones and your heart

Michelle is particularly passionate about helping women learn more about two out-of-sight but incredibly significant impacts of menopause.

“Looking after your bone density and your heart health is absolutely critical at this life stage but, unfortunately, they’re issues that many women aren’t as aware of as other effects of menopause,” Michelle says.

She says while you know if you’re having a hot flush or night sweats, you don’t necessarily know if your bones are starting to become brittle or if your heart health is deteriorating, often not until it’s too late.

“Thankfully, there are things you can do to help safeguard against those things and future-proof your body – and The Menopause Method can help show you how,” Michelle says.

Speak to your GP

Dr Teagle encourages women to seek the help of a supportive GP if they’re experiencing any perimenopause symptoms.

“It’s important to advocate for yourself and ask the question, ‘Could this be related to perimenopause?’,” she says.

“Every GP may not be confident in having those conversations, but a good GP should at least be willing to facilitate the conversation and help you find resolutions.”

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Written by Karen Fittall.