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What is formication?

Menopausal women can experience formication - a feeling of creeping, crawling sensations on the skin.


Formication is a scary word for a little known symptom of menopause. It refers to when you have the phantom sensation of ants or other insects crawling over your skin.

Formication and Menopause

Estrogen plays an important role in the maintenance of healthy skin. So it stands to reason that as estrogen levels in the body decline as they do during peri/menopause, your skin is going to suffer.

Estrogen is responsible for stimulating the production of collagen which provides strength, resilience and support to the skin.

Reduced estrogen levels inhibit the skins ability to retain moisture and slow the body’s production of natural skin oils.

The end result is dry, itchy and fragile skin, prone to many skin disorders.

Formication is one of these.

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This is the time when menstruation is well and truly over, the ovaries have stopped producing high levels of sex hormones and for many ladies, perimenopause symptoms subside.

Estrogen has protective qualities and the diminished levels mean organs such as your brain, heart and bones become more vulnerable. It’s also a key lubricant so your lips may become drier, your joints less supple and your vagina might be drier. In addition, your thyroid, digestion, insulin, cortisol and weight may alter.

At this juncture, a woman might experience an increase in the signs of reduced estrogen but she should have a decrease of perimenopause symptoms. That said, some women will experience symptoms like hot flushes for years or even the rest of their lives.


Peri = ‘near’

Most females begin to experience the symptoms of perimenopause in their mid-forties. Your progesterone levels decline from your mid-30s but it’s generally from around 40 that the rest of your sex hormones begin to follow suit. 

Perimenopause is a different experience for every woman and some women may barely notice it. The first indicators are usually changes to the monthly cycle. This means that for some ladies, this can be accompanied by things like sore breasts, mood swings, weight gain around the belly, and fatigue as time goes on.

For those with symptoms it can be a challenging time physically, mentally and emotionally.

Importantly, perimenopause lasts – on average – four to 10 years. The transition is usually a gradual process and many women enter perimenopause without realising.