What is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause is the stage before menopause and also includes the period of time when you have not menstruated for a year.
Perimenopause symptoms can go on for a few years, even up to a decade and usually start in the late 30's to early 40's, but can even begin much later.
Perimenopause can be rocky ride for some and isn’t to be taken lightly. But if you go to your doctor about your symptoms, they quite often won’t know what to do with you and you will be told that “it will pass” and to just put up with it.
The Oestrogen Rollercoaster
Menopause and perimenopause are two different things. Menopause is when you have low oestrogen. Whereas perimenopause is when your oestrogen is 'all over the place', almost like it's on a rollercoaster fluctuating from very high to extremely low, over and over. As mentioned, after you have not had your period for a year, this is considered menopause. The time leading up to this is perimenopause.
Going through perimenopause can be hard work for many, however, not all will experience symptoms. Even though your oestrogen and progestoerone are declining, you may be one of the lucky ones that go through perimenopause without many issues.
In perimenopause, serotonin (the happy hormone) decreases. In other words... you become a grumpy, snappy, irritated beotch who quite often cries for no reason.
However, it is actually the combination of your ovaries, thyroid and adrenal glands all not functioning well together that causes the issues.
Your periods also go a little crazy as time goes on – they can be irregular, more heavy, cause more cramps, be longer, or shorter, or non-existent and then start again.
This is all due to the ovaries not ovulating like they should be and it just makes everything go all a bit out of whack.
You can experience sleep issues, night sweats, hot flushes, low libido, forgetfulness, tiredness, feel unsociable, irritated and emotional. You may also suffer from sore breasts, headaches, vaginal dryness, thnning hair or hair loss and weight gain.
Symptoms of high oestrogen include heavy periods, fluid retention, irritation and sore breasts. Symptoms of low oestrogen include night sweats, heart palpitations, hot flushes and depression. Up or down, it's not fun.
Progesterone is Leaving the Building
The same time as your oestrogen is roller-coastering, your progesterone levels are dropping. Progesterone's calming effects would help bring balance to oestrogen, therefore reducing the oestrogen dominance symptoms, but since it's dropping off, this balancing act does not happen, therefore affecting your nervous system even more. You are less able to cope with stress like you were before which means you are more prone to anxiety, depression and sleep issues. You may also experience an intensity in allergies, brain fog, histamine intolerance and other issues all due to the high oestrogen and low progesterone.
Tips for Managing Perimenopause
Rest and You-Time
Your body is going through some major changes, so make sure you take some time out to take care of yourself. At this stage of your life it is very easy to be in busy-mode. Working, managing a home, children and life in general. Yet again, you are on the back burner and at the bottom of your to-do list.
So, it's extremely important to bring in some rest and self-care. Make it a daily habit. Take some time out for yourself. Incorporate some yoga or meditation to help connect back to you and what you need. Have a bath. Get a massage. Go for a walk in nature. Say "no" to certain things. Support your body and mind as much as you can.
Sorry for this one, but yes, alcohol can cause issues in perimenopause. It can be a trigger for hot flushes and also lowers progesterone, which is something you don't want to happen when you are going through this stage. It can also prevent the body from metabolising oestrogen effectively, which is an issue when you are experiencing high levels of it.
If you aren't already, make sure you start exercising. Bringing yourself to a sweat enables your body to eliminate toxins, reducing the load on your liver meaning it is able to detox hormones as it needs to.
Cardio exercise can help you manage stress better, however, if you are feeling like a gentle walk is a more calming option for you, then listen to your body and do what feels best.
Make sure you get to bed on time and get enough sleep, especially if you are having sleep issues. Sleep is extremely important for energy, keeping stress levels under control, managing mood and balancing your hormones.
If you are having sleep issues, try a warm bath at night, magnesium supplements, meditation, essential oils, writing out a to-do list for the next day each night and so on. Or be in touch as I have some great techniques to help with this issue.
Eat Your Veggies and Up Your Fibre
Increase your vegetable intake, especially cruciferous veggies as these help your body to metabolise oestrogen.
Also upping your fibre will help your body detox oestrogen as well as supporting your bowel. Adding LSA (linseed, sunflower seeds, almonds, crushed) to your diet will be beneficial.
Of course, reducing processed foods will also support your body and mind even more.
Ultimately, a hormonal detox would support your body even more through this phase, helping to manage symptoms in a holistic manner.
By making certain changes before and during perimenopause, you may be able to manage this phase a lot easier. Eat healthy, reduce stress, rest, incorporate certain supplements and take care of yourself and you will be able to support your body and mind through this important transition in your life.