Women talk about being in ‘menopause’ but often the first signs have appeared before they have really noticed. Perimenopause is what is starting to change in your body and early symptoms appear, but not usually regularly or severely.
A feeling of anxiety and uncertainty is common and most women see the start of some hot flushes as well as mood swings as emotional feelings as their reproductive life is drawing to a close.
Being prepared is key
This stage of life can seem uncomfortable and even frightening if you are unprepared for the changes that accompany it. Although all women are different, they usually enter perimenopause in their late thirties or early forties. During this time, the body prepares for the total cessation of reproductive functions, and is caused by a sudden increase in the fluctuations in the two main female hormones: progesterone and oestrogen.
So keeping hormone balance throughout your reproductive life, and before you get to perimenopause, will certainly ease the transition. It is not just your hormones fluctuating that affect you though, as external factors such as stress and medical procedures such as hysterectomy can trigger hormone changes.
What are the symptoms?
Perimenopause symptoms often begin at a very low level so you may not relate them to menopause, particularly as they can come and go unpredictably for months or even years. Some of the most common perimenopause symptoms are:
* Hot flushes
* Loss of libido
* Mood swings
* Night sweats
* Vaginal dryness
* Weight gain
What can help?
Making sure you tackle any symptoms of oestrogen dominance early on will make a major difference to symptoms such as weight gain, poor sleep and loss of libido. Lifestyle changes that can help are to incorporate regular, enjoyable, exercise into your life to both keep your heart healthy, your weight down and deal with fatigue.
As we get older, our lives can get busier and more stressful and our energy levels naturally fall so dealing with stress and fatigue becomes even more difficult. The benefits of exercise are well known for calming and reducing stress levels, so try to find something to help you such as a Low Gi diet which can shift weight and increase energy levels.
As well as balancing hormones with supplementary progesterone or a combined progesterone and oestrogen cream can often be enough to ride out the waves of perimenopause symptoms.
However, if they are severe many women do find help from herbal and botanical supplements containing a mixture of proven herbs such as black cohosh, for example can also be beneficial.