Perimenopause Made Me Start Living My Life Again

Periods. Our relationship with them can be complicated but what we often don’t think about is what happens when they stop. It’s not an overnight change either. There’s a whole transition stage before menopause; it’s called perimenopause and we need to talk about it. That’s why we're partnering with Avon to bring you the unheard stories of this totally natural phase. The good news is that it’s not as scary as it sounds.
Perimenopause – most commonly starting in your late 40s – is the stage before your final menstrual cycle where your body is producing substantially less oestrogen.
Advertisement
Because of this hormone flux, many women go through a number of physical and emotional changes, including side effects such as dry, irritable skin and anxiety.
Thankfully, with the right support these side effects aren’t completely out of our control. For over 20 years Avon has been studying the impact of these fluctuating hormones on our skin and have developed Adapt, a new range (coming soon!) designed to specifically target these symptoms.
Arguably just as helpful during this time is knowing you’re not alone – aided by more women starting to share their own perimenopause experiences. It’s not all doom and gloom either; some women embrace the milestone as the beginning of their best years, proving it’s still possible to feel great.
To celebrate these upsides, we spoke to two women who have done just that. After going through perimenopause and experiencing the symptoms that go hand in hand, they’ve come out the other side with a newfound perspective.
When 49-year-old Rachel Peru discovered three years ago that she was going through perimenopause, she embraced this new period of her life and learned to accept the changes to her body – even starting a new career as a model in the process.
"There have been a few ups and downs along the way but I have found this stage of my life affirming. Looking back, it’s actually been like shedding a skin with new layers growing. The perimenopause years forced me to reflect on my relationship with my own body and gave me the confidence to move forward with a clearer sense of who I am and what I want to achieve in the next part of my life.
Advertisement
Instead of focusing on all the negatives – weight gain, cloudy head, tiredness, anxiety, all of which I did experience – I started to see it as an exciting new chapter where I could recreate myself. I also ditched the hair dye when I was 46 so I went completely grey, and it began to feel liberating.
I found myself modelling swimwear on a beach in the Bahamas at the age of 47 and realised that anything is still possible, even though I was struggling with perimenopause anxiety at the time.
As a model my skin and hair are an important part of my job so I’ve always been conscious of looking after myself. However, perimenopause meant I began to suffer some hair loss and the elasticity of my skin seemed to go; it felt at times as though my body was experiencing a total hormonal imbalance.

I started to see it as an exciting new chapter where I could recreate myself.

I’m not sure why it took me so long to seek my doctor's advice. Although I did know about the menopause I wasn’t too clued up about perimenopause but after researching my symptoms online I realised I didn’t need to suffer in silence and that my symptoms were, in fact, very common.
My doctor was very sympathetic and experienced and together we found a solution that helped me feel more like my old self. I became much calmer, my brain felt less fuzzy and I slowly began to embrace the changes in my body. For me, it marked a new stage of my life where I could start afresh. I actually felt a shiver of excitement at the prospect of getting back on track.
Advertisement
I used to struggle with body confidence but am now super proud of the way I look. Even though some of the symptoms sound awful, there is a positive light at the end of the tunnel, or in my case, the runway!"
Similarly, Fay Reid, 52, has turned her life around since going through perimenopause five years ago. While the symptoms started sooner than she’d expected and it took a number of lifestyle adjustments, the result of this physical change was also a professional one when Fay decided to trade in her old career for one she’d always thought about.
"I had just started a new job as a PA when I experienced my first perimenopause symptom. I was sitting at my desk when I felt a whoosh of heat go from my chest to my head.
After experiencing this a few times, I realised they must've been hot flushes. I actually couldn’t stop giggling to myself about them; I thought it was hilarious that I’d hit that stage of my life when I still felt so mentally young.
As the flushes became more frequent, I had to make lifestyle changes. I swapped my commute so it involved a long walk, which made me feel so much better as it meant I was incorporating some exercise into my day.
My symptoms became worse when my mother, who I was very close to, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. My job had also become extremely stressful and I felt like I’d gone into a tailspin. I stopped sleeping well at night, my anxiety levels were sky high and breakouts left my skin sore and dehydrated.
Advertisement

My body has also entered a new phase, my skin has started glowing again and I really appreciate all the good things in life.

As well as going to see a therapist, I opened up to my doctor about my health issues. It was obvious from my blood test results that I was experiencing symptoms of perimenopause and we were able to find solutions that gave me much more energy, positivity and confidence.
The combination of my perimenopause and losing my mum made me question life and really ask myself, what do I want and what makes me happy?

I realised that I needed a change of career so I took steps to make this happen and focused on a more stress-free life. Immediately after I handed in my notice I felt terrified but soon after I began to feel liberated!
I realised my body and mind had been through so much that I needed to look after myself and enjoy the things I was most passionate about. One of these was clothes; I love fashion but I struggled to find outfits that I’d feel comfortable in when I had a hot flush. Free from work, I was able to focus on my wardrobe and now 95% of my clothing is cotton.
I have even designed two dresses in a fabric which absorbs excess sweat during a hot flush.
As well as starting blogging about perimenopause, I set up a social media platform to support others going through the same stage and to help take the stigma out of it. It has given me a new lease of life.
Advertisement
My body has also entered a new phase, my skin has started glowing again and I really appreciate all the good things in life.
Yes, perimenopause threw my mind and body off kilter but it’s not something to be scared of. Now I’ve come out the other side, I actually feel amazing!"
Advertisement

More from Skin Care

R29 Original Series