If your monthly PMS symptoms seem to have gotten worse as you reach perimenopause, you’re not alone – and it’s not all in your head.

From severe period pain, bloating and food cravings to intense mood swings, digestive issues and unbearably hot flashes, many women experience a fluctuation or change in PMS symptoms in the years leading up to menopause. But how and why does this happen – and how can you find relief?

What is perimenopause?

During perimenopause hormones in the body begin to fluctuate as women approach menopause itself. During the late thirties to early forties estrogen levels begin to slowly decline as the transition to menopause takes place. This isn’t a smooth, gradual curve but more of an erratic process, causing irregular and unpredictable symptoms.

This period of time is often forgotten in the conversation surrounding menopause – some women don’t experience severe symptoms at all – but it’s important to recognize that many do, and symptoms can feel very much like the menopause itself. Some women can spend years in perimenopausal misery without the tools and support to help them to feel better – but with awareness, it’s absolutely possible to find relief.

Why do PMS symptoms get worse during perimenopause?

Many women expect that their periods will gradually become more infrequent before they eventually stop altogether following menopause – but that’s not always the case. Cycle length does tend to be shorter, causing more infrequent or irregular periods. But having several missed periods is not uncommon – sometimes resulting in one particularly heavy, painful period every few months. Women may also experience new or worsened PMS symptoms.

During this time, the body is much more sensitized to hormone fluctuation – so naturally any changes, even those associated with your monthly cycle, can feel more significant. Existing conditions such as PCOS and endometriosis can also affect how severe perimenopausal symptoms can be.

If you suffered with severe PMS prior to starting perimenopause or are particularly sensitive to hormonal changes, your symptoms are likely to be worse – but even women who did not experience difficult periods prior to perimenopause can find themselves struggling with debilitating PMS at this stage in their lives.

Am I experiencing perimenopause?

Severe PMS can be common but many symptoms are not ‘normal’ and should be investigated, if you aren’t experiencing perimenopause. The average woman enters perimenopause in her late 40s – but some women start the process later or earlier. This is dependent on a number of factors including lifestyle, genetics and health.

Signs and symptoms of perimenopause include:

*Night sweats and hot flashes

*Low sex drive

*Sleep disturbances

*Breast tenderness


*Headaches and migraines

If you suspect that you are experiencing perimenopause, ask your physician to run some tests to confirm it.

Perimenopause can take up to ten years, so being aware of the changes in your body and knowing what you can do to support yourself through this transitional period is important.

Holistic ways to alleviate perimenopausal PMS

1. Herbal support

There are a variety of herbs and plant extracts that can support you through perimenopause in a number of ways. Essential oils for example such as lavender, geranium and clary sage have been shown in studies to support with hot flashes, low

mood and even estrogen balance. Meanwhile herbs can also be consumed in teas, tonics and as supplements – rhodiola, shatavari and maca are all great options (find maca in our Hormone Helper blend).

2. Gentle movement

Exercise has a number of benefits for body and mind during perimenopause – but in particular it also supports healthy hormone balance. Introducing regular exercise each week can not only help to increase your fitness levels and help you to maintain a healthy weight (or lose weight if that is your goal). It also uplifts your mood, decreases anxiety and raises levels of endorphins as well as helping the body to regulate estrogen levels.

3. Healthy diet and lifestyle

There has been a sharp rise in endocrine disorders, especially in women, in recent years. This is in part due to the many endocrine disruptors we are exposed to in our daily lives – in particular, the foods we eat, pollution in the air and the products we apply and use on a regular basis. Common EDCs to avoid include:

*Plastics in food and drink containers

*Household cleaners, laundry detergents, air fresheners

*Toxic beauty products such as makeup, haircare and skincare

Our diet can also be a source of hormones and EDCs which actively influences hormone levels, causing symptoms to become more severe. Foods to limit include:

*Meat (in particular processed meat and red meat)

*Processed dairy


*Processed fats


*Caffeine (in excessive amounts)

Opt instead for a predominantly plant-based, wholefoods diet rich in vegetables, low-sugar fruits, good fats and protein from legumes, lean meats, eggs, fatty fish, nuts and seeds and soy.

4. Stress management

Stress has a major impact on our hormones – so when you’re already sensitive to hormonal fluctuations due to the onset of menopause, any stress can cause symptoms to worsen or become more erratic. In particular stress causes the body to produce higher levels of cortisol, impacting upon estrogen and testosterone levels. Stress during this time can become something of a vicious cycle, further impacting on emotional health and physical wellbeing.

Effective stress management looks different for everyone, so your formula will be unique to you – but there are some proven ways to reduce the impact of stress such as meditation, breathwork, therapy and adaptogen intake.

5. HRT

Hormone Replacement Therapy can be demonized – but it isn’t always a negative option and can be a helpful option provided it is properly prescribed and managed. For some women HRT is highly effective and offers significant relief. New technologies and advancements in women’s medicine, including bioidentical hormone replacement derived from plant sources, are revolutionizing the way we view, treat and support women through perimenopause and menopause.

Need holistic help through perimenopause and menopause? Take a look at our guides and products here.