Do you feel like you’re riding a hormonal rollercoaster? Have your periods become irregular or have you suddenly started having worse problems with your periods? If so, you may be riding a hormonal rollercoaster without even knowing it. If you’re ready to start feeling like yourself again, natural remedies and a healthy lifestyle can help.
What is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause is a natural, normal time in a woman’s life when her body begins its transition into menopause. Perimenopause encompasses the years leading up to menopause, which officially starts when a woman’s period has completely stopped for one year. Perimenopause, can range from two to ten years, depending on the woman.
While it is a perfectly natural phase of a woman’s life, it isn’t always easy to bear. Many women suffer tremendously during the perimenopausal years, while others experience no symptoms at all.
Most women begin perimenopause in their forties, but it can start as early as the mid-thirties. Perimenopause is the span of time when you notice that your periods are changing to one year after they completely stop. That’s when menopause begins.
The Signs and Symptoms of Perimenopause
Perimenopause can cause a whole range of symptoms. Some women experience many symptoms while others may only experience one or two. The main symptoms include:
1. Menstrual irregularities: You may experience changes in the intervals between periods or skip some periods altogether. The flow may be scanty or profuse. Ovulation may become more erratic as well. You may be vulnerable to anemia if your periods are heavy.
2. and 3. Hot flashes and night sweats: Between 75 and 85 percent of women experience hot flashes during perimenopause. The intensity, frequency, and duration may vary.
4. Sleep problems: Often hot flashes are to blame for the sleep disturbances or fatigue that can be linked to perimenopause.
5. Mood changes: Fluctuating hormones can cause mood swings, depression, irritability, difficulty handling stress or anxiety.
6. Vaginal problems: As estrogen diminishes, vaginal tissues may lose lubrication and elasticity, making intercourse painful or uncomfortable.
7. Bladder problems: Lower estrogen levels may leave you more vulnerable to urinary tract infections or loss of tissue tone, which may also contribute to incontinence.
8. Decreasing fertility: Because ovulation becomes less regular, the ability to conceive may decrease. As long as you’re having periods, though, pregnancy remains possible.
9. Decreased libido: Sexual desire and arousal may gradually decline; however, stresses in life can also play a role, so it is essential to reduce stress. A supportive and loving partner certainly lessens the effects of hormones.
10. Body and skin changes: Muscle mass may decrease and body fat may increase as estrogen levels fall. Abdominal fat may increase. A regular exercise program can counter these effects. Lower levels of estrogen may affect the collagen in your skin, making it thinner and less elastic.
11. Loss of bone mass: As estrogen levels decline, you may lose bone faster than it has been replaced, increasing your risk of osteoporosis. Weight bearing exercise and a diet rich in usable calcium and other minerals as well as vitamin D can help keep your bones strong.
12. Changing cholesterol levels: Declining estrogen may result in increased LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, and an increased risk of heart disease. Eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains can help keep cholesterol levels low.
13. Sore breasts: some women experience painful breasts just prior to and during their periods while others have sore breasts most of the time. Some women may be vulnerable to fibrocystic breasts.
14. Migraines: severe, one-sided headaches that often include sharp pain through one eye, seeing auras, blurred vision, nausea, and vomiting.
Many women report other signs or symptoms during perimenopause, including dreams of pregnancy or thoughts of babies, nausea, or hunger.
Perimenopause is not a disease or a life sentence. Every woman’s experience is different. However, if you are experiencing any of the uncomfortable or painful symptoms mentioned above, it may be a sign of hormonal imbalances that might need addressing. And, keep in mind that you don’t need to experience all of these symptoms to be perimenopausal. With so many treatment options like bioidentical (natural) hormone replacement therapy, traditional botanical remedies, and nutritional approaches to perimenopause, there’s no need to suffer. Speak to your doctor or natural health care practitioner to find the option(s) that best help restore balance in your body during this transitional time in life.