martina braun
martina braun


First things first: the premenopause with its confusing changes is your constant companion from 40+ and no, there is no way back. However, you shouldn't just resign yourself to it and let it all wash over you, but deal with this issue from now on, because there are options!

But first things first:

I almost can't believe it myself, I'm now 42 years old and I'm writing an article about the menopause. More precisely, about the start of the menopause - and even more precisely: the start of my menopause! A topic that still carries far too much shame, even in this day and age, and where there are still far too many uncertainties that we should finally clear up.

I want to talk openly about the fact that it is completely normal for things to start happening in our late 30s and that our lives can be turned upside down from then on - emotionally and physically! This change should not be taboo, quite the opposite. It's important to be able to talk about it openly so that we can support each other better.

It is my wish that we use the female swarm intelligence and help each other to experience the start of perhaps the most valuable phase of life consciously and with our heads held high.


To be honest, I can't really answer this question. Because there was no starting shot like in a 100-meter run, thanks to which I knew that it was about to start. Not at all.


Looking back now, I think I was probably the first to notice my physical changes. It came slowly and completely unconsciously. My cycle suddenly became rather irregular, but it didn't fall completely off the grid from one day to the next, instead deviating from the usual regularity from time to time. Sometimes my periods were heavier, sometimes lighter, sometimes a few days longer, sometimes shorter and sometimes in the middle. But basically still so normal that I convinced myself that the stress at work was the cause.


I also had more and more phases where I felt like I was spitting out chewing gum. And what does chewing gum feel like? Well, worn out and exhausted, without energy and drive, even though I wasn't under any extraordinary strain at the time. I knew myself as a motivated and straightforward woman who was goal-oriented and always had fun with new ideas. Suddenly I was all ideas and no motivation. Some days I felt like I couldn't sleep as much as I was tired. And for lack of better knowledge, I also blamed this on possible stress at work.


Well, dear weight. From time to time I had the feeling that I was being led around by the nose. Despite the constant number on the scales (despite various efforts to lose weight), I noticed that pants were suddenly pinching and blouses were getting tight. It felt like my proportions were suddenly shifting and every new gram was finding its way to my waistline. I also suddenly had cycle-related weight fluctuations accompanied by thicker calves and ankles, something I had only heard about from my grandmother. And to make it even more surreal, this didn't suddenly become a permanent condition, but slowly crept into my life as ups and downs.


I can say that I have my feelings pretty much under control. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen, it's just the way it is. So when I suddenly find myself sitting in front of the TV in tears as the latest sappy Christmas commercials are shown on TV every year, I no longer know myself. Emotional swings are suddenly the order of the day and from time to time I can put up with other people much less than I did before. And the worst thing about it was that I couldn't describe it in words. It was an unfamiliar feeling that I couldn't put my finger on and I thought I was crazy.

Other symptoms in this phase can include

  • increased PMS
  • spotting
  • swollen joints
  • aching breasts
  • poorer sleep
  • migraine
  • hair loss
  • first hot flushes
  • ...and many more

Every woman works differently. You may experience any of the symptoms mentioned, or just a few, or even others, or none at all. And the fact that these are the harbingers of many more changes on the way to and through the menopause was something I didn't realize at all.  I didn't waste a thought on the menopause and that was a good thing! And yet I was probably already experiencing certain changes in my late 30s that I simply misjudged at the time. But the hormonal changes start in your late 30s. Ovulation becomes more irregular and incomplete and this changes our hormone levels, which can then lead to the aforementioned phenomena.

Before I go into how I dealt or would have liked to deal with the new circumstances, I would like to talk about the various terms used in this topic and briefly discuss why the menopause is a taboo subject.


As I now know, it all starts with the so-called premenopause, which usually takes place between the ages of 38 and 44. It is the preliminary stage of the perimenopause, the actual menopause, and can last up to 10 years. The perimenopause lasts up to 1 - 2 years after your last period and is the actual menopause. The term menopause, which we all know and use as a representative term for the menopause, actually only refers to our last period before a period of 12 months without bleeding. The perimenopause is then seamlessly followed by the postmenopause with all its challenges.


Because we don't like to talk about the menopause. No one has ever shown us that we can talk about this phase of life without shame. Especially not in our 40s, when the common view is that the menopause is not an issue at all. So let's finally start!

It is clear to everyone that women have to come to terms with the circumstances of the menopause from a certain age, but there is nothing to discuss, let alone change. Under these circumstances, it is therefore difficult to deal with this topic in your 40s.

Perimenopause in particular is still insufficiently addressed in the training of doctors. As a result, we receive far too little support from our gynecologists and family doctors when we need it most. Particularly during the perimenopause, when symptoms tend to be blurred and intangible, we want understanding and professional guidance, because we already feel irritated enough.

The well-known issue that medical knowledge is still based on male body constellations also plays a role here. And there are simply no comparable symptoms during the menopause that would allow us to draw conclusions about women. The awareness that a female body functions differently to a male body has only emerged in the last few years and will hopefully lead to women's health, including menopausal symptoms, being given a new significance.

But it's not just down to medicine that hormonal changes and the associated effects are not given a high priority in a woman's life. It is also down to ourselves. It is also difficult for us to acknowledge this phase and come to terms with the changes. Unfortunately, the menopause is still synonymous with visible ageing and at 40 we don't want to hear about it at all. We still want to live up to the expectations of our family and partner, as well as ourselves, and be perceived as young, beautiful and always able to perform.

So we suppress it, conceal the incipient signs, overload ourselves and wonder why things only get worse instead of better. We don't even want to talk to our best friend about it because we're embarrassed and we're not sure whether it's the first signs of the menopause. I bet my best friend is struggling with similar issues and doesn't want to show any weakness either. And talking to our mother usually doesn't help either, as most of them shrug their shoulders helplessly and leave you with a "that's just the way it is" without meaning any offense.


As you can guess, it's worth dealing with perimenopause issues at an early stage. It really opens up new possibilities and makes the steps that are important in the following phases up to the postmenopause easier. This is not just about superficial discomfort, but about our health, which we can influence in the course of the menopause.

But there is still a long way to go until then, which definitely deserves its own blog post. For now, let's take a look at specific steps to take during the perimenopause:

Be aware!

Attention, important! Even if it sounds trite, it's true. The way to more clarity is through observation and awareness. You first need to find out what is suddenly bothering you, how it feels and how often it happens. It all usually starts with a series of feelings that you can't quite put your finger on or you feel uncomfortable in your body, even though there is actually no reason for it. Be aware of this and don't push it aside unnoticed, because nothing is more counterproductive than not taking yourself seriously and playing something down.

A helpful strategy can be to regularly check in with your body and simply wait and see what happens. Ideally, you should have a few minutes of peace and quiet to concentrate on yourself. Do a body scan by mentally noticing your whole body and finding out how the individual parts of your body are feeling. This is a mindfulness exercise and you can also find a series of guided exercises on the internet. And yes, you have to learn and practise this first, but it helps you to understand yourself better.

Keep a record of the changes in your cycle, pain, dizziness, PMS, etc. Most people think that they will be able to remember all their complaints when they go to the doctor, but this is far from the case. Write it down, in your journal or in an app, no matter how - do it!

Because if you know and can describe your symptoms, you can talk about them more clearly with others. And for you, too, it goes from being a fantasy to a fact and thus becomes more important.

Seek the right medical support!

Now is the best time to get trustworthy and competent medical support. Talk to your family doctor or gynecologist and tell them how you are feeling. Do you still want to have children? Then go for it now and don't wait any longer.  If you feel strange at the doctor's appointment or don't feel like you're being taken seriously, think about finding someone else. It's worth it! Over the next few years, you will have to talk about some strange symptoms and make decisions about your health, and you need a capable, trusted person by your side.

Seek expert advice now, as you are laying the medical foundations for the remaining phases of the menopause. It is helpful if you have your hormone levels determined now, which is done by taking a blood sample. It is important to take the blood sample at the right time, as it should be taken at the peak of your cycle, when you are feeling at your hormonal best. This is the case between the 5th and 7th day. Depending on the results, you can already discuss and initiate initial measures with your doctor.

Pay attention to your diet and exercise!

Yes, now is the time to start rethinking your eating and exercise habits. You may have already noticed that your previous eating habits are suddenly having a different effect than before. Although you are eating the same as before, you are gaining weight or at least not losing it. Welcome to the premenopause. Your changing hormone balance means that you process food differently than you did in your 20s. Suddenly, too much fast food and pasta can lead to a rapid increase in weight and that glass of red wine unexpectedly gives you a silly head the next morning.

This is where you get to find out anew what works for you and what doesn't. Re-prioritizing a plant-based diet is certainly a worthwhile approach. Reduce foods that drive up your insulin levels, as this leads to fat build-up - especially in the abdominal region.

Also pay attention to your daily water intake. If you drink enough, you will reduce your hunger and eliminate toxins better. I know that drinking is one of those things. For me, the filled water bottle within sight works best, while others swear by a drinking alarm on their smartphone. And just to mention it briefly, juices, soft drinks or iced tea are not suitable for quenching your thirst in the long term, as they contain unnecessary calories.

But please don't let eating and drinking become something difficult. Don't forget to consciously enjoy yourself - after all, that's what your midlife is all about. It should be fun!

The same applies to exercise. Decouple sport from food and exercise to do something good for your body, not just to lose weight. It makes sense to start thinking about building and maintaining muscle now at the latest. Our bones and muscles break down more quickly if we don't put them under strain, so exercises with your body weight or dumbbells make perfect sense now.

Please be aware that you are only at the beginning of your menopause. Everything you invest now will make it easier for you later on and the surprises will be limited as you are already prepared.


Seek competent medical support and start taking small steps now to make provisions. It's your body and your right to health!

And most importantly: talk about it. Talk to your friends, work colleagues and all the women in your family. Learn from others and share your strategies for success. Because support makes all the difference.

What are your experiences with the premenopause? Do you have any questions or comments? Then write me your story in the comments or by email at