Have you come across the term Peri-Menopause?
It’s the time when a woman is transitioning from regular menstrual cycles to the menopause. It can be associated with a rollercoaster of body, mind and mood changes which is why it has been called Reverse Puberty (credit Dr Carrie Jones of the DUTCH test). The peri-menopause can occur during two to twelve years before menopause, and can start as early as 35 years. Cycles may still be regular but symptoms may start including hot flushes, heavy periods and insomnia. This can be due to hormone changes including making more oestrogen than ever before and also a lot less progesterone. In menopause (which starts the year after cycles completely stop), there is low oestrogen in the body.
So what are some of the changes of perimenopause?
- new onset heavy and/or longer flow
- shorter menstrual cycles
- new sore, swollen or lumpy breasts
- new mid-sleep waking
- increased menstrual cramps
- onset of night sweats, in particular premenstrually
- new or markedly increased migraine headaches
- weight gain without changes in exercise or eating
Having three or more of the above symptoms means a woman is likely in perimenopause, despite regular cycles.
So how can you ease your way through peri-menopause?
As with the approach to health with root cause medicine, by supporting our bodies with what they need and removing that which they don’t need, we can make the transition easier than it may otherwise be. I believe that as women are supported with fertility and pre-conception care, support through the time of peri-menopause is very worthwhile and can have a big impact on a woman’s life as well as those around her!
The main strategies are to support progesterone, metabolise oestrogen and reduce inflammation. So to start with rest and self-care is a high priority. Do you have a mindfulness practice you enjoy? Reduce alcohol as this impairs the healthy metabolism of oestrogen and lowers an already low level of progesterone (which has a calming action on the brain). Maintaining healthy gut bacteria is important as they escort oestrogen safely out of your body. There are some supplements shown to have benefit in peri-menopause which could be considered on an individualised basis.