Five unusual perimenopause symptoms, as Gwyneth Paltrow reveals she's in the 'thick of it'

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 06: Gwyneth Paltrow attends the 2023 CFDA Fashion Awards at American Museum of Natural History on November 06, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
Gwyneth Paltrow says she first began noticing perimenopause symptoms six years ago. (Getty Images)

Gwyneth Paltrow is 'in the thick' of perimenopause. The 51-year-old actor and wellness guru said that her experience so far with the reproductive condition has been a 'roller coaster'.

"I'm really in the thick of perimenopause, so it's quite a roller coaster and my best advice is that every woman really needs to contemplate what is the right way for her," Paltrow told PEOPLE.

"For me, I've been really trying to focus on having a very well-functioning gut and liver so that these excess hormones can be flushed out of the body and cause less symptoms."

The founder of Goop added that she's 'glad' there is a 'big change' in how women talk about perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause.

"In my mother's generation that was not the case whatsoever," she added.

Paltrow said that she began noticing a 'shift' in her body aged 45, and adds that because more women talk about it now it's easier to understand that it's a normal and natural transition.

"There are a lot of great options available, whether it's HRT or different supplements, but I'm just glad everybody's talking about it, because it used to be so full of shame and it's just another chapter for us,' she added.

Common symptoms of menopause and perimenopause include night sweats, low mood and irregular periods (Paltrow said hers were coming every 18 days).

But there are some lesser-known indications you could be entering into or experiencing the transitional period when you start to experience changes to your menstrual cycle.

The problem is, lots of women don't realise those symptoms could be down to perimenopause, so they often go unnoticed.

Noticed a change in your body's odour? It could be a symptom of the menopause. (Getty Images)
Noticed a change in your body's odour? It could be a symptom of the menopause. (Getty Images)

Unusual perimenopause symptoms

1. Body odour

While it’s highly unlikely people will start to hold their noses as they pass you, if you are approaching menopause, you may notice that your body smells different.

"The difference in odour comes most notably from the armpits, or vagina and it all boils down to your hormone levels," explains Dr Farzana Khan, an expert in women’s intimate health working with RegenLab.

"During perimenopause, your body is undergoing a lot of changes. The first thing to note is the natural decline of oestrogen, which can cause vaginal dryness, throw your PH balance off, and cause the vaginal wall to become thinner."

Before menopause, the vagina is naturally acidic, but as the body approaches menopause it becomes more alkaline. This can lead to a more pungent odour. The hormonal changes can also raise your overall body temperature, which can leave you feeling sweatier than usual and may lead to night sweats; again, this can contribute to body odour.

Expert tip: To combat any unpleasant smells, Dr Khan suggests carrying cleansing wipes, or antiperspirant for a quick refresh whenever you need it.

2. Brain fog

If you find yourself forgetting the simplest of things it could be a sign that you are in perimenopause.

As our hormones play a huge part in our cognition and memory, as they decline a lot of women begin to develop brain fog.

"Unfortunately, the cognitive issues linked to perimenopause go hand in hand with other symptoms of menopause," Dr Khan explains. "For example, if you are experiencing night sweats, this impacts your sleep, which in turn can make you foggy the next day."

Expert tip: To help address brain fog, she suggests trying to stick to a sleep schedule, and aiming to get a solid 7-9 hours of sleep each night. "Of course, this isn’t always easy, but sleeping in a comfortable, well-ventilated room will help," Dr Khan adds.

Forgetfulness is another potential indication you could be in perimenopause. (Getty Images)
Forgetfulness is another potential indication you could be in perimenopause. (Getty Images)

3. Vaginal discomfort

Again, this is down to levels of oestrogen within the body.

"In the years leading up to the menopause, you may begin to experience discomfort and vaginal dryness during intercourse," Dr Khan explains. "Whilst this is natural, it can be both frustrating and discouraging."

Lower levels of oestrogen decrease blood flow to the pelvic region, which causes changes to the genital tissues and impacts sexual responsiveness.

Expert tip: If you are experiencing vaginal discomfort, Dr Khan suggests using vaginal lubricants, oestrogen cream, and natural oils such as jojoba or coconut to help relieve pain.

Watch: Naomi Watts felt 'out of control' going through menopause

4. Hair thinning and hair loss

As our hormones begin to dip, our crowning glory can become thinner, dryer, and weaker, sometimes leading to thinning, and hair loss.

"Hair loss around menopause is the direct result of lowered levels of oestrogen and progesterone," explains Dr Fas Arshad, from The Hair Dr. "These hormones help hair grow and stay on the head for longer periods. As hormone levels drop, hair tends to grow less quickly and can become dry, weak, and start to thin."

Expert tip: Dr Arshad says it is important to ensure you are getting enough protein in your diet. "The hair is made up of a substance called keratin, which is a protein made from amino acids. Whilst it’s not directly found in food, its production is directly affected by how much protein is in your diet," he explains.

Suddenly need to pee more frequently? Yep, this could be another perimenopause side effect. (Getty Images)
Suddenly need to pee more frequently? Yep, this could be another perimenopause side effect. (Getty Images)

5. Frequent urination

Found yourself suddenly needing to run the loo? This could be another symptom of the perimenopause.

"The decline of oestrogen within the body can lead to us with a constant need to urinate, even without a full bladder," Dr Khan explains.

Painful urination is another problem associated with perimenopause and can often reflect symptoms similar to a urinary tract infection, without the infection.

"This normally happens because the tissues in your vagina and urethra lose their elasticity and as a result, the lining thins,” Dr Khan explains.

Expert tip: Dr Khan says some simple lifestyle changes can help including cutting back on alcohol and caffeine that fill your bladder quickly and retraining your bladder by only urinating at specific times of the day. "You could also try incorporating Kegel exercises into your daily routine, this involves squeezing and relaxing the muscles in your pelvic and genital areas to strengthen them and help with bladder control," she adds.

Menopause: Read more