Perimenopause means “around menopause”, wherein your body transitions towards menopause. Menopause is the time when there have been no menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months.
Common perimenopause symptoms can include:
- Shorter cycles and/or heavier periods.
- Hot flashes, night sweats
- Mood swings, especially irritability, sadness, anxiety and rage
- Abdominal weight gain, or difficulty losing weight
- Difficulty sleeping, especially more light sleep and waking in the night with trouble falling back to sleep
- Brain fog, difficulty concentrating or poor memory
- Drop in libido
These symptoms mean that your hormones are shifting, and there is help. Areas to address with perimenopause are:
- Test your hormones: Knowing exactly what is happening with your hormones is an essential starting place. Hormones tested include androgens (testosterone, DHEA), estrogen (estrone, estradiol, estriol), cortisol, and progesterone. This can be done through a urine, saliva, or blood test, which are available at the clinic.
- Manage your stress: Simple relaxation techniques can be an effective way to combat mood swings and may even help fend off hot flashes. Simple breathing techniques are methods that can be done almost anywhere. Don’t forget to carve out time for self- care by having a massage, relaxing in a hot bath, yoga, or taking time for your favourite hobbies like reading or baking.
- Stay active: Regular exercise is essential for hormone balance. Try 30 minutes of brisk walking 5 times a week.
- Proper nutrition: Remember to eat your fruits and vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables (Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, broccoli). These contain indole-3-carbinol, which naturally helps to balance estrogen levels. Adding ground flaxseeds to your smoothie or oatmeal is another easy way to balance estrogen levels.
- Sleep: Getting enough sleep is crucial at any stage of life, but even more so in the time leading up to menopause. Healthy hormonal balance is deeply linked to our sleep cycles and our bodies are intrinsically governed by circadian rhythms.
If you suspect that your hormone shifts may be perimenopause, there are various tools that can be used to restore hormone balance. This always begins with nutrition, exercise and stress reduction, and can also include supplements, herbs or bio-identical hormones. Consult your naturopathic doctor for more information.