Get menopause ready in your 30s

Get menopause ready in your 30s

When does menopause start?

Many women are led to believe the menopause is something that affects them in the mid-late 40s, but hormonal changes marking the beginning of the menopause can start years before the menopause.  In fact, it is not uncommon for these changes to start in your late 30s or a decade before your actual menopause. Some women may also experience menopause if they have gone through surgically induced menopause. This can happen at any age due to medical reasons, learn about surgical-induced menopause.

Every woman is different in how they feel during the menopause and the time of transition before it, known as the perimenopause. Stress on the body from dietary choices, emotions, a lack of sleep, exercise or relaxation can have a big impact on the balance of hormones and any symptoms that may develop at this time.

Gut health can also be significantly impacted during the transition from perimenopause to menopause. Our latest research revealed that 91% of women surveyed experienced changes in their gut health during menopause and nearly two-thirds of women first noticed their gut health changing during perimenopause. Discover the 8 common gut health changes during perimenopause and menopause.

You can do something about it and your body may thank you later! Changes in your diet and lifestyle can help you be better prepared for the perimenopause and beyond. Read about the most effective changes in diet during menopause.   

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What happens in the perimenopause?

The menopause (the absence of menstrual periods for one year with no other biological or physiological cause found) usually occurs between the ages of 45 to 55, although it can be earlier or later than this. You may be interested in reading more about perimenopause periods.

In the perimenopause, levels of your progesterone and oestrogen hormones fluctuate and decline, and the amounts of testosterone (testosterone is an important hormone in women as well as men) often lower at this time too. These hormonal changes may also impact the thyroid gland which plays an important role with your metabolism. As a result of changes in the levels and balance of these hormones, a range of symptoms can occur.

What are the symptoms of the perimenopause?

Up to 80% of women will experience at least one symptom of the menopause. Although some women will suffer from debilitating symptoms, others will sail through with the odd hot flush or mood swing and suddenly menopause has been and gone!

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However, some of the more frequent symptoms include changes to periods, fatigue, mood swings, anxiety, poor sleep, hot flushes, weight gain, and ‘brain fog’ with poor concentration and memory.  These symptoms can often be worse in the days before a period (the pre-menstrual time). Continue reading about the common signs of perimenopause.

8 lifestyle changes to help you prepare for the perimenopause

Your diet and lifestyle can play a major role in how you and your body prepare yourself for the perimenopause and here are eight tips try and follow. 

1. Keep blood sugars stable

Fluctuations in levels of blood sugar can be a big driver of hormonal symptoms.

You can help regulate blood sugar levels by limiting alcohol and foods containing refined sugar, eating regular meals with a balance of healthy protein such as pulses or quality meat, high quality healthy fats such as oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds, and complex carbohydrates such as vegetables and quinoa. A balanced diet can also help to restore levels of nutrients that may be depleted at times of stress.

2. Eat plenty of fibre 

Our latest research of over 1,500 women going through all stages of menopause revealed that women are twice as likely to first notice changes in gut health during perimenopause compared to menopause. Symptoms including bloating, mild or severe IBS, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, a change in the smell of your farts or stools, and constipation or not feeling relieved from bowel movements are all more likely to first present during perimenopause. 

Our research also revealed that increasing fibre intake was one of the most effective changes in diet during the perimenopause and menopauseFibre is essential for a healthy gut. We know from research that an imbalance of microbes in our gut can affect our hormones. Good fibrous foods include fruit and veg (a wide variety will offer different nutrients), wholegrains, nuts and seeds, and pulses such as peas, beans and lentils.

Learn more about foods, what they provide and what they don't. You may also be interested in 'Exploring the link between diabetes & early menopause'.

3. Limit caffeine and alcohol

Caffeine and alcohol contain toxins which can affect the liver, a vital organ for helping with hormone balance. Caffeine and alcohol can also dehydrate you, affect your sleep and result in symptoms such as low mood and anxiety, all of which can create stress and have a knock-on effect on your hormones. Drinking enough water is also important to restore hydration (just 2% dehydration can affect your focus and concentration). 

Reducing alcohol was the second most effective change in diet during menopause. Continue reading about the 'best changes in diet during menopause'. 

Discover our Menopause Hub | Resources to help support women through all stages of menopause.

4. Get enough sleep 

Most people need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Not having enough sleep and interrupted nights can cause stress and lead to weight gain, poor skin health, emotional problems and more.

One of the reasons why people may struggle to get to sleep in the evening is due to too much of one of the stress hormones (cortisol) which can impair levels of melatonin (the ‘sleep hormone’). Having a relaxing bedtime routine is one method to help reduce stress and which may aid sleep.

Read our blog: More than 1 in 3 people suffer from poor sleep.

5. Exercise regularly and in the right amounts 

Exercise is important to help reduce stress, as well as contributing to a healthy weight. Find a form of exercise that you enjoy – you are more likely to stick to it. Be careful not to over-exercise though as this can create stress itself and make you feel worse rather than better.

6. Try to maintain a healthy weight 

As your menopause approaches your metabolism slows, making weight gain more likely and harder to lose weight. Being underweight or overweight can affect your hormone balance, and changes in weight can also impact on our bones. 

Due to hormonal changes during the perimenopause and menopause there’s a greater risk of osteoporosis (thinning of the bones) so maintaining a healthy weight is important for your bone health.

7. Balance emotions 

81% of women who are going through perimenopause will experience anxiety / mood swings. Yoga, meditation and mindfulness can help to reduce feelings of anxiety or low mood and promote a feeling of calm. Sharing problems with a friend may help, or if you feel that this is something that needs working though in more depth then perhaps a counsellor or therapist would be an option.

8. Reduce exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs)

These are toxins in our environment which can affect hormone balance, for example by mimicking oestrogen. Avoiding plastic, choosing natural skin care and organic fruits and vegetables can help to reduce our exposure to EDCs.

Always #checkthelabel and read our blog on ingredients to look out for


We're all different and for some, menopause can arrive early while for others much later, but it does come to all women and there are real differences you can make in your diet and lifestyle to help your body adapt and be in the best possible place it can be in advance of the onset of perimenopause and menopause symptoms

Dr. Katie Hodgkinson is a GP and runs Hampshire Health & Hormones, specialising in lifestyle medicine and in particular the effects on hormones on the body.

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