What is Perimenopause

Menopause symptoms creep into your life before menopause sets in. They mark the beginning of perimenopause. Similar to menopause, you need to be well informed about these perimenopause symptoms, or else they can swing into your body like a wrecking ball (minus a naked Miley Cyrus swinging from it).

Being a natural phase of life, there is no cure for the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause. It is completely natural to experience a variety of symptoms during this evolution. So being well informed about what to expect, can help you make these symptoms your bitch.

Due to the changing levels of oestrogen and progesterone in the women’s bodies, the perimenopausal years mark a remarkable change in their behaviour and anatomy. Personal medical history, genetics, the quality of your diet, how active you are are some of the factors that determine the symptoms that you might suffer from, and their intensity.

Certain measures can be taken to minimise the effects of these symptoms. Making healthy choices in diet (put down that third slice of cake), doing regular exercises (walking to the fridge or stretching to reach the remote, do not count), taking supplements and medicines, managing your stress levels (no you can’t kick your boss in the nuts. Tempting I know, but try yoga instead. Or kickboxing. Might hone your skills for future usage), can all help curb the intensity of menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms, as well as the restructuring the balance of hormones in your body.

What Is Perimenopause?

Perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause, are the three phases of menopause. A year after women’s last period marks the beginning of menopause. Perimenopause takes place before menopause. The symptoms of perimenopause sneak in amongst other changes taking place in your life as you move through your 40s towards your 50s. Due to this they might go undetected for years on end.

When Does Perimenopause Begin?

It differs from woman to woman. The Mid 40s usually marks the beginning of perimenopause. It can last for any number of years. It announces it’s arrival with irregular periods, spotting and various other symptoms due to a shift in hormones.

what are perimenopause symptoms
perimenopause and premenopause

Perimenopause Vs Premenopause

People usually get confused between premenopause and perimenopause.

Premenopause is applicable to any woman in any phase of life before menopause. The time period from when women’s menstruation starts in the teenage, till it ends in menopause, is considered premenopause. Therefore, a fertile woman is also part of the premenopause group. Perimenopause, on the other hand, are the handful of years before menopause in which women start experiencing various symptoms and often times, a lack of regular periods.

Can You still become pregnant during perimenopause?

Yes, you can. Although the probability is low due to irregular menstrual cycle and a distinct drop in fertility, the goalkeeper needs to stay in place for now. So hang on to your condoms and birth control until 12 months after your last period when menopause truly sets in.

Perimenopause Symptoms

A menstrual cycle can be disrupted due to various changes in the hormonal balance of our body and the function of our ovaries. Symptoms of perimenopause might start edging their way into our lives in the early 40s. We start noticing symptoms such as irregular periods, weight gain, a decrease in breast volume, hair thinning and skin dryness. Hot flushes might show up even earlier, in the late 30s itself. In the last 1 to 2 years of perimenopause, this drop in oestrogen speeds up. At this stage, many women have menopause symptoms.

The Most Common Signs And Perimenopause Symptoms Include:

Menstrual Changes And Irregular Periods:

The periods start to ebb and flow inconsistency. The duration between periods also starts getting prolonged. Our periods start to come over to greet us once every two to four months, and then the visits become further and further apart.

Gradual Weight Gain:

Notice some extra pounds around your gut? You’ve got menopause to blame. The bones lose their density, the muscle their mass, and voila! You’ve got to say goodbye to your favourite jeans.

Changes In Sex Drive:

The literal anatomy of your vagina changes. The labia become smaller, the muscle tissue of the clitoris starts to shrink and becomes less sensitive. A decrease in oestrogen leads to reduced blood flow in the genital area. In addition to this, various changes take place in the ovaries, uterus and cervix.

Changes In Breast Tissue:

The loss of volume and density and increase in fatty tissue make them sag and look smaller in size.

Mood Swings:

Ever wonder if it’s just you or has the world and every person in it become collectively irritating overnight? Well, turns out, it’s just you. Or rather it’s perimenopause wrecking havoc through you. Perimenopause brings along depressive symptoms, fatigue, anxiety, irritability and a feeling of rarely being energised.

Thinning Hair And Dry Skin:

Ageing goes into overdrive. Menopause knocks at your door and as you crack it open wrinkles, dark spots, dryness, loss of elasticity and increased itchiness rush in.

Hot Flushes And Night Sweat:

Hot flushes are described as a sensation of intense heat spreading through the body without an outward cause. It causes sweating and redness. The hormonal changes affect the gland that controls body temperature.

Vaginal Dryness:

Vaginal dryness can open you up to urinary tract infections caused by loss of vaginal fluid that is responsible to move the bacteria out. The vagina also loses its elasticity and shortens.

Insomnia And Changes In Sleep Quality:

I was fast asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, is a phrase of the past. Welcome to the life of tossing and turning, and cursing anybody that dares to sleep soundly, or worse snore. If you do manage to fall asleep, the possibility of waking up hot and sweaty still exists. Unfortunately, the only action you crave is being able to fit in the refrigerator.

Heart Palpitations:

Palpitations are the cherry on the worst cake in the world, made of hot flushes, anxiety, muscle spasms and headaches.

Poorer Concentration:

Loss of concentration, forgetfulness, drowsiness and increased sensitivity to stress are all symptoms of perimenopause. These symptoms are worsened by the lifestyle you live, the amount of sleep you get, your diet, and various other factors.

Migraines And Frequent Headaches:

The multitude of perimenopause symptoms like insomnia, anxiety and various other problems might lead to frequent and intense headaches.

what are Perimenopause symptoms

Causes Of Perimenopause

Reduction in oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone are the primary reasons for perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause symptoms. Oestrogen is responsible for giving you your feminine qualities and influencing your reproductive system. Progesterone helps prep the uterus for pregnancy along with some other functions. Testosterone brings along qualities associated with masculinity.

Menopause marks a distinct drop in the production of estrogen by your ovaries. Oestrogen regulates your weight, mood, sleep, sex drive, blood flow and many other things. Its decrease leads to a number of perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms.

Natural Treatments For Perimenopause Symptoms

1. Healthy Diet

Throw out that junk food, clean out your fridge of takeouts, a new era of clean eating has arisen. In order to aid your rapidly changing hormones and be able to fit in your clothes, you need to stop consuming empty calories. A nourishing, unprocessed diet, is key. Your new best friends are fruits, vegetables, high fibre foods, probiotics, lean proteins like fish, healthy fats such as olive and coconut oil, and foods that supply natural phytoestrogens like flax and fermented soy.

2. Exercise

Adhering to a regular exercise routine helps manage body weight. It releases dopamine which helps battle depression and anxiety. Exercise tires the body out, which leads to better sleep quality. It also aids bone density, muscle mass and inflammation.

3. Supplements And Herbal Treatments

Evening Primrose oil, Omega 3, adaptogen herbs such as maca or American ginseng, black cohosh help deal with the various symptoms of perimenopause and help regulate your daily life.

4. Getting Proper Sleep

Sleep is important during all stages of life. It helps to reduce anxiety and depression, balance hormones and keep the energy levels high. Seven to nine hours of sleep is of paramount importance, especially during perimenopause. This could be a paradox because insomnia is a common problem during perimenopause, which acts as a trigger for other symptoms. You can break this loop by using hormone-balancing essential oils such as lavender and taking magnesium supplements.

Forming a night time routine like reading a book and writing in the journal also helps. Other things that attract sleep better are the use of Epsom salts in a warm bath prior to bed, turning down the temperature in your room, and practising mind-body practices such as yoga and meditation.

5. Stress-Reducing/Mind-Body Practices

The imbalance of hormones in your body makes it vulnerable to anxiety, fatigue and depression, which can further worsen by stress. So it is important to keep it under control. Exercise, picking up an outdoor hobby, joining a yoga class, therapy or having a confidante, associating with positive people, and meditation, are some of the ways to manage stress in daily life.

Perimenopause alters your body, mind and by extension your life in a number of ways. It is a must to accept this phase with positivity, instead of viewing it as a death of normal life as you know it. With an understanding of the symptoms and making a few changes in your life, like your diet, exercises, stress management, and supplements, you can live a relatively well balanced, active and happy life.