We know all too well about life in Menopause. Even if we haven’t arrived at that stage of life, we’ve heard enough stories to keep us dreading the almighty change. Perimenopause is not talked about quite as much. It’s that transitional period when we start feeling the effects of age and dwindling hormones.
Perimenopause. How do you know if you are experiencing that? Here’s a short list of symptoms that may seem familiar to you if you are in your forties.
- Your periods become more irregular or they may become heavier or lighter than normal.
- Unpredictable hot flashes and often night sweats which can severely interrupt a good night’s sleep
- Mood swings, irritability, depression and anxiety increases or perhaps these are new symptoms for you.
- Bladder problems, even some incontinence.
- Your chances of conceiving diminish but…you can still get pregnant.
- Loss of bone strength, especially as your estrogen diminishes.
- Higher cholesterol which puts you at risk for heart disease.
These are just a few of the more common symptoms you may notice. There are some other changes that can disrupt your day to day experience. Anxiety, forgetfulness and weight gain, just to name a few.
When we experience a hot flash due to fluctuating hormones, our heart rate speeds up by nearly 16 beats per minute. This sudden change in temperature and heart rate can give us intense feelings of anxiety. Next time you feel a wave of anxiety, pay attention to your body, do you feel your heart racing or other indicators, not associated with an event?
More often than not, the only hormone we ever hear about during this period of life is estrogen. So many hormones play a role in the changes that occur leading up to menopause, not just estrogen. Testosterone, progesterone, cortisol and even insulin can fluctuate and create intense changes in our mind and body. Forgetfulness is part of this process. As some of these brain protecting hormones drop, our brain power slows down unless we are exercising it just as we would the other muscles in our body. During this stage of life, make sure you are creating strong connections with others and moving and learning each day. If you haven’t figured out the importance of managing stress before now…don’t worry, you will soon be forced to learn that lesson!
Stress just seems to grow as we age. Nothing wreaks havoc more on hormones than stress. With added stress in our lives, our adrenals just can’t keep up. With the added work that is required to balance the slower function of the ovaries, the adrenals get tired too. When this happens, welcome to your new and expanding waist line. Weight gain is one of the more common symptoms of perimenopause. It can seem that no matter what you do, there is no way to stop it. Balancing and supporting hormones, regular exercise and managing stress are vital if you want to maintain your good health through this phase of transition.
The fun of perimenopause never ends with thinning hair on our heads but increased hair growth on our face. Achy joints, dry eyes and brittle nails. All of this can be and often is attributed to the shift in hormones.
So, what’s a girl to do? It seems like the answer is always a healthy lifestyle and diet. That’s because it is. Our processed, American diet leaves little nutrients to support hormones and good gut health. Ideally, you will want your nutrients from food but supplementation may be necessary. As usual, you’ll want to consult your healthcare provider to be sure your supplements are not interfering with any prescription meds you take. There is hope when going through perimenopause and good ways to manage the symptoms and balance hormones.