9 Steps to Thrive During Perimenopause
Many women in their late thirties and into their forties notice how their bodies change. Your doctor may say it’s just aging. Truth to be told, there is no reason why you shouldn’t thrive as a woman for many more years.
How your body changes in perimenopause
You may notice changes in the menstrual flow, either lighter or heavier, longer or shorter, along with increased PMS (premenstrual syndrome). You may feel angry more easily, sleep poorly (especially the week before the menstrual bleeding), have more headaches and migraines, bloating, poor memory, and fatigue. Eventually you may start having weight gain, hot flashes, night sweats, or vaginal dryness. Certainly not the most fun symptoms!
This is the transition period called perimenopause. This period of time can last from a few months to 10 or even 12 years, with an average of four years. You are officially in menopause one year after the last menstrual bleeding has passed.
The very beginning of perimenopause
When it comes to approaching menopause, what we commonly hear is how our estrogen declines and as a result we get crazy hot flashes or night sweats, irregular menses, and “my favorite,” vaginal dryness.
The changes in hormones, however, happen gradually, over many years. It’s more like a spectrum rather than saying “today I am not in perimenopause and tomorrow I am.”
It can start with first noticing you have more breast tenderness, more irritability before your cycle, more issues with your sleep, heavier bleeding, or more headaches and/or migraines. This is most typically because the estrogen is too high in comparison to progesterone. These two hormones are sisters and just the right ratio between them is what makes your body thrive.
When the estrogen goes high
When the estrogen is too high you are estrogen dominant. This can happen because you literally have too much estrogen, or because the progesterone is too low, which makes the estrogen appear too high because of the incorrect ratio.
One of the most common reasons why the estrogen is too high (for younger women, as well as women in perimenopause) is exposure to xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are endocrine disruptors and have estrogen-like effects. They are found in a variety of items, such as personal care products, cosmetics, plastics, insecticides, and some foods.
Another reason for high estrogen is having excess fat. The fat itself is an endocrine tissue, which produces more estrogen.
In perimenopause, the first hormone that starts declining is progesterone. So if you take the lower progesterone with the already higher estrogen, what you get is some of the symptoms listed above, especially shorter and heavier cycles.
Eventually, the estrogen gets depleted and that is typically when we start skipping periods or having longer cycles. Or you may experience both, either short cycles and long cycles, intermittently. Eventually the periods stop altogether and that is when you reach menopause.
How to feel better during the perimenopausal years
If you want to avoid the ups and downs of perimenopause, here are some ideas on how to improve your hormonal health.
If you are in your 30s, this is the perfect time to start taking care of yourself and optimizing your hormonal health. If you are in your 40s or early 50s, you are likely experiencing either very mild changes, or more disruptive ones. If you are already in menopause, there are still things you can learn from the tips below (hint: you still produce some hormones, even after menopause).
- If you suspect high estrogen and possibly high exposure to xenoestrogens, check out this page to learn more about possible exposure and how to avoid them.
- Eat cruciferous veggies, especially broccoli sprouts, to help with estrogen detox. The product called DIM Detox can also help lower the estrogen, however it is best to test your hormones first before using it to assure that the overall estrogen is high (instead of the estrogen-progesterone ratio being affected only, which is approached differently).
- Your estrogen gets detoxed through your stool as well (along with the liver detox), so daily bowel movement is crucial. My personal favorite to help with constipation is oxygenated magnesium. I have not had a single person who wasn’t helped by oxygenated magnesium. Oxy-Powder from Global Healing is the formula I use when I struggle with constipation. The bottle recommends four capsules at night; that is too much for most people. Simply start with one capsule and increase gradually until you get a daily formed bowel movement.
- If your progesterone is low, we love our most popular product, Progest E. This product was created decades ago by Dr. Peat, who understood this common problem in our society—low progesterone and high estrogen. Our absolute best seller, and for a good reason!
- If you are experiencing hot flashes, irregular cycles, and low libido, Chaste Berry Plus can be of help. Another product that can be life-changing for hot flashes in menopause is Estrovera.
- Test your sex hormones instead of guessing what the issue may be. Sanesco Health offers saliva sex and adrenal hormonal testing along with neurotransmitter testing (which also offers great information if you have mood swings and insomnia).
- Eventually, as the estrogen becomes depleted, we start losing bone mass. With the loss of bone we release some of the heavy metals we may have accumulated over the years in our bones. It is important that every woman gets tested to assess heavy-metal exposure and detoxes appropriately.
- Be gentle with yourself and do your very best to allow time for self-care, sleep, and rest. Your adrenals will be much healthier, which is very important at menopause, as it is our adrenals that produce a small (but mighty) amount of sex hormones, after our ovaries stop their production. I have yet to meet a person who couldn’t benefit from adrenal support. One of the formulas I personally use to support my adrenals is Adaptogen-R3.
- My favorite book on perimenopause is called Perimenopause Power. It contains well-rounded information that will likely change your life for the better.
The perimenopausal years can be multifaceted and complex. The information above should get you started on this journey of improving your hormonal and overall health.