What every women you should know about perimenopause because it can start as early as age 35.
Average age that women get it is between 40-44 years old. It lasts for an average of 4-10 years but it can start as early as 35.
Even when you have no symptoms.
This really shows you how extremely different we all are. There is no one-size-fits all.
Perimenopause is the extremely slow hormonal shift to the big M – menopause.
The natural end of menstruation.
Fun fact: the day that you go 12 months without your menstrual cycle is the day of your menopause.
This stage of life (perimenopause) is not talked about enough. In all honesty, until recently, I knew nothing about it.
Here are the big signs of perimenopause:
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Night sweats and hot flashes
- Insomnia followed by daytime sleepiness
- Mood swings
- Breaking out like a teenager again
- Low libido
- Vaginal dryness
- Painful intercourse
Symptoms are usually treated with birth control pills, acne medications, and antidepressants.
So naturally, my holistic self became very curious because I know there MUST be another way out other than taking more pills.
During perimenopause the two leading hormones for reproduction, estrogen and progesterone, start to rise and fall unevenly.
Up until this point, both estrogen and progesterone have a very predictable circulation.
Estrogen levels rise and fall twice during the menstrual cycle.
The menstrual cycle has 4 phases:
Follicular: In the beginning both progesterone and estrogen levels are low. Then estrogen starts to rise.
Ovulation: Estrogen keeps increasing. Progesterone levels start to increase.
Luteal: Estrogen and progesterone reach their peak levels. Then fall to the lowest levels right before bleeding.
Menstrual: All hormones decline quickly and are at their lowest.
See? Pretty predictable.
As we get to our late 30s, we do not produce as much progesterone. Our follicles start to produce less estrogen and fewer ovulations. Leading to irregular cycles, and irregularity in spikes and drops of estrogen.
To put it simply- this leads to a rise of the hormone called FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) which makes attempts at creating more estrogen.
How to subside perimenopausal symptoms
As always, you should check with your licensed care provider before trying anything new.
During this time I highly recommend:
- Keeping a food journal: Whenever there is a drastic shift in hormones, you never know how your body is going to react to food. This will help you identify what is triggering certain symptoms (hot flashes, feeling swollen, & lethargic, etc.)
- Limit caffeine: Caffeine can exhaust your adrenals. Overworked adrenals is the reason behind sleeping problems, irritability, depression, fatigue and weight gain. The fluctuations in your body are already causing most of those symptoms so caffeine will probably just exacerbate it. It is also known to trigger night sweats and hot flashes in perimenopausal women.
- Limit alcohol: Many women have reported that alcohol increases their hot flashes and night sweats. Alcohol impacts your hormone levels (specifically estrogen and testosterone), which are already going through a transition during this time.
- Intermittent fasting: skipping food for the majority of your day and eating in a certain time frame. I usually recommend to to eat from 11 A.M. to 7 P.M. You can tweak it according to your own preference. Perimenopause also changes your metabolism. The sudden hormonal shift causes a lot of women to gain weight. Intermittent fasting is known to help with weight loss, reduces the risk of metabolic diseases, has positive psychological effects, and improves sleep.
- Exercise: Exercise improves your overall quality of life, reduces stress, increases energy, improves anxiety, depression, and keeps you emotionally balanced. Which is exactly what we need during such a big transition in life.
- Circadian rhythm & melatonin: Sleep disturbances is a major complaint in perimenopausal women. With a sharp decrease of estrogen also comes a decrease of melatonin. Which leads to a cascade of triggering other symptoms (depression, low quality of life, lack of energy, etc.). Syncing your circadian rhythm and supplementing with melatonin should show great improvement in sleep. Getting sunshine in the morning, dimming lights at night, turning off blue lights 2 hours before bedtime are a couple of ways to do just that.
- Maca: I absolutely adore this adaptogen. Maca is SO good for everything as it relates to hormones, so it is no surprise to me that it helps with perimenopause specifically. There was a study done showing how Maca helped postmenopausal women with depression and supported healthy blood pressure. It helps with hot flashes, supports mood and sex drive, boosts energy, and regulates cortisol levels.
- Reduce inflammation: To treat acne effectively, you have to always look at your diet and what is triggering inflammation. Limit dairy, refined carbohydrates, sugar, alcohol, and inflammatory oils. Add more omega-3s, fruits, vegetables, and fermented foods.
- Mindfulness: Closing your eyes for even just 5 minutes a day, to watch your breath, can have a huge impact on your perimenopause symptoms. A study showed that mindfulness helped decrease perimenopausal symptoms like irritability, anxiety and depression.
As women, we are all heading in this direction, are in this phase or have just gone through it.
Knowledge is power. It is better to be prepared than getting caught off guard not knowing what to do.
All of the things mentioned above to help subside symptoms, is something we can start incorporating today. The longer we can keep a regular cycle, the better our health will be long term.
Hope this information helps. I know for me, I am so prepared now when the time comes. It also gives me even more motivation to keep doing what I am doing in regards to my health.
Thank you and deeply grateful you are here reading this!
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See you next week.
Alejandra at Living Well Co.