Perimenopause is where everything starts.
It happens in our late 30s and 40s, which is a critical time in our lives. We’re busy with family or building a career. We’re preoccupied with being good homemakers or caring for our aging parents. It’s a complicated time for many of us, and we may feel like we need to stay on top of everything.
And then we start to feel different perimenopause symptoms that we don’t recognize. Our mood goes up and down, and we act strange in some situations. A lot of women say they feel lost. I felt the same way. I didn’t recognize myself, and I thought it was my PMS getting worse.
Today, I can see why. No one ever prepared or taught me about menopause. Many of us think menopause starts at around 50 and with hot flashes. So, when we feel discomfort in our 40s, it confuses us. We only realize that perimenopause has passed when we look back after many years.
Perimenopause can play with your nerves, and you might visit your doctor for help. Sometimes, doctors interpret symptoms as so severe that they prescribe medications, but in many instances, changing your lifestyle and food habits can be real life-changers!
Perimenopause is not a disease to cure!
Relieve symptoms by taking good care of yourself.
It’s your hormones going up and down, and they need your support.
You are not going crazy!
I wish I had this information before, when I was in perimenopause, or even better, before that. I want you to have a better ride than I did. Go on, read the rest of the article! 🙂
Am I in Perimenopause? 8 Common Perimenopause Symptoms Telling You It’s a YES!
Perimenopause is the first stage of the menopause transition. It begins 8 to 10 years before your monthly periods completely stop.
Your hormones are unpredictable at this stage, and they go up and down. Our FACT BOX below has an in-depth explanation of how your hormones shift during perimenopause.
Perimenopause is different from woman to woman. I know friends who didn’t experience anxiety and mood swings as I did.
Dr. Sara Gottfried says many women don’t understand perimenopause. As a result, they get baffled when they begin to have all sorts of symptoms.
Dr. Christiane Northrup adds that you’ll never realize you were in perimenopause until a year after your last period.
There are other ways to know if you’re in perimenopause. One of them is to watch out for these telltale signs!
1. Changes in your periods
The first perimenopause symptom is a change in your periods. The flow and how often you experience become different. You might miss your periods for several months and have it again. Some women also get heavy periods. It’s important to remember that you can still get pregnant during perimenopause. You might have low hormones, but they’re enough to keep a pregnancy!
2. Mood swings, anxiety and depression
Estrogen and progesterone calm your central nervous system. They also influence how our body produces mood hormones like serotonin. When estrogen and progesterone decrease in perimenopause, they disturb our mood and emotions. Mood swings, anxiety and depression, are three of the biggest concerns among women in perimenopause.
3. Vaginal Dryness
Progesterone and estrogen provide moisture and lubrication in our vagina. Low levels can cause vaginal dryness and discomfort. Besides vaginal dryness, decreasing hormone levels can also cause low sex drive.
4. Sleep Problems
Midlife is stressful for women. We balance life as mothers, wives, daughters and working women. Stress and hormonal shifts can cause anxiety, which disturbs our sleep.
When we reach a certain age, we can’t tolerate some foods very well. Gluten, dairy and sugar are examples. Food intolerances stress our gut because they’re hard to digest. As a result, bloating happens. These food intolerances can also cause widespread inflammation in your body. You might notice swelling in some parts of your body.
6. Nails, Skin and Hair Changes
Low progesterone slows down collagen production. This protein is important for supple skin, shiny hair and strong nails. Aside from our hair on the head, we may also notice that our pubic hair becomes thinner by the day.
7. Hot flashes
Perimenopausal women may experience mild to severe hot flashes. Besides the intense feeling of heat, hot flashes cause skin redness and sweating. Dr. Berg has an excellent video about the nature of hot flashes!
8. Night sweats
Episodes of hot flashes at night disturb our sleep and make us feel tired during the day.
No two women have the same perimenopause experience. We may experience different symptoms at this stage. As for me, hot flashes and night sweats came during menopause. If I had these symptoms in perimenopause, I might have understood better that I was in the menopause transition.
Hot flashes and night sweats also happen in perimenopause, but a lot of women experience it in menopause.
Confused about what stage you’re in? Know the three different stages of menopause and see which stage you’re in!
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) provides some valuable information about perimenopause in the video below [26:31]:
Control Perimenopause Symptoms in 10 Easy Ways Before It Controls You!
You can relieve your symptoms using quick-relief tips, but there’s one more important thing that you need to do so you can address the root cause of your symptoms.
See your mind and body as one!
Change your perspective and see your whole self. Your body talks to you through your perimenopause symptoms. Don’t just place a bandage; heal the root cause of your discomforts.
Check out my little helpful list below! 🙂
1. Eat good food!
Go organic and natural! Get rid of all the junk and fast foods. They contain a lot of toxins, chemicals and additives. Processed foods also have xenoestrogens, which offsets your hormone balance even more! Eat more papaya, bell peppers, citrus fruits and dark leafy greens. They are rich in Vitamin C, which naturally increases progesterone.
2. Have more adaptogenic herbs
These herbs balance your body functions and have loads of other health benefits! You can make them a part of your meals or make DIY homemade remedies from them. Herbs such as Holy Basil, Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Rhodiola and Rosemary are examples of adaptogenic herbs.
Take magnesium with taurine. As your progesterone crashes, emotional symptoms start adding up. Magnesium and taurine increase the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in your brain. GABA soothes and relaxes your body. You can also take 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), which is an amino acid that helps produce serotonin. Serotonin is a happy hormone that calms your body and improves the mood! B-vitamins, especially vitamin B12, also helps produce serotonin.
4. Consider using natural progesterone cream!
Progesterone is one of the most versatile hormones. It can turn itself into testosterone and estrogen. For this reason, using natural progesterone cream can be helpful to ease perimenopause symptoms. These creams are made from natural sources like wild yam and soy. Most natural progesterone creams are available over-the-counter. Dr. Christiane Northrup recommends 1/4 tsp. –1/2 tsp. of 2% progesterone cream (about 30-60 mg).
5. Do seed cycling.
Toxins and fake hormones are everywhere – they are in our food, home and environment. Include pumpkin, flax seeds, sesame and other nuts and seeds in your diet. They are rich in lignans, which are compounds that bind with fake hormones and inactivates them. They also have fatty acids, which help promote better hormone production.
6. Be active!
If you’re not a fan of exercise, it’s time to start moving more! It doesn’t have to be that rigorous, taking a walk or a short jog can go a long way. Mind-body exercises like Yoga, Pilates and Qigong are also great! If you’re used to exercising, strength training and HIIT are good for menopausal women.
7. Stress less.
Stressful adrenaline kicks are good now and then, but too much can mess up your hormones. It can make you feel worse during perimenopause. Slow down, re-evaluate your priorities and delegate. Let go of things that are not important.
8. Try acupuncture.
Acupuncture helps relieve blockages in your body that can ease your energy flow. It also eases stress, muscle tension and fatigue. You can also try alternative therapies such as aromatherapy, self-massage and more!
9. Do relaxation and breathing activities.
Deep breathing and meditation calm your mind and body and prolong your sleep hours.
10. Make sleep a priority.
Correct your sleep pattern to set hormone production to normal. Your body and hormone-producing organs need to take a break too. Let them recover by getting eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.
It’s challenging to find solutions when you’re clueless about where to begin. The best thing to do is slow down, eat good and take supplements. When you’ve established all these, taking hormone level tests can be good.
Perimenopause symptoms can take us off guard. We don’t understand how we feel, and we become so detached from our bodies.
It’s easy to feel low when “menopause mayhem” comes, but it’s actually trying to tell us something.
Perimenopause is telling you to make yourself a priority! Listen closely to what your body is saying. Know what it needs and find solutions that work best!
Perimenopause can be an enjoyable time if we understand and know how to manage our symptoms!
Hormone Changes That Causes the Signs of Perimenopause!Hormones play a huge role on your perimenopause experience. Estrogen is the primary female hormone which controls most of our reproductive functions. It has a key role in puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, ovulation and menopause.Estrogen’s effect in our body is far-reaching because it has receptor sites in almost all organs. For this reason, perimenopause symptoms can vary, and they happen anywhere in our body.A slight imbalance in estrogen can create a chain of reactions. For example, low estrogen levels affect how our thyroid works. When the thyroid is sluggish, we gain weight faster. During perimenopause, estrogen stays afloat because your ovaries can still produce the hormone.Progesterone is as helpful as estrogen in the body. It takes charge of ovulation, fertilization and carrying pregnancies to term. However, the most important function of progesterone is to keep estrogen at bay. Estrogen, when unopposed, influences the body in negative ways.When progesterone decreases first during perimenopause, estrogen becomes the dominant hormone. This estrogen to progesterone imbalance is called estrogen dominance (ED).Without progesterone to regulate estrogen’s effects, it hyperactivates body functions, so you get anxiety, hot flashes and other perimenopause symptoms.Testosterone production also starts to decrease in perimenopause. The functions of your thyroid, pituitary and adrenals glands start to slow down as well. As a result, they can affect your perimenopause symptoms.
More information about menopause?
Get it from our FACTS PAGE!
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Go to our HOMEPAGE!
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Gita is the founder of My Menopause Journey. Since 2014, she has been supporting midlife women by sharing hard-earned learnings from her own experience. To advance her knowledge, Gita puts a lot of her time and effort into understanding the broad spectrum of women’s health. She immerses in extensive research about the physical, mental and emotional aspects of menopause. Gita believes in the life-changing power of healthy, holistic living — this is where she anchors her message to all women. Learn more about her marvelous mission in About us - My Menopause Journey.