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Numbness in your hands or feet?

It could be paresthesia, a symptom of menopause.


What is paresthesia?

Paresthesia is often referred to as ‘tingling extremities’ because it’s a sensation most often felt in the hands, arms, feet and legs.

It can present itself as a feeling of numbness or the type of sensation referred to as ‘pins and needles’ following pressure on a limb making it ‘fall asleep’.

It can be an unexpected and irritating symptom of menopause.

Why is paresthesia a symptom of menopause?

Estrogen, one of the primary hormones that are in a state of flux during peri/menopause, has a complex effect on the central nervous system.

When it is thrown off balance during peri/menopause this can affect the nervous system.

Depleted estrogen levels also lead to thinner skin which is more susceptible to cracking and wrinkling.

Weak skin may also become sensitive giving way to tingling or numb sensations.

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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.