Attention women in your 40’s! It’s time to talk “Peri-Menopause”

Attention women in your 40’s! It’s time to talk “Peri-Menopause”

Lee-Ann Fitzpatrick, Naturopath

What is Peri-Menopause Anyway?

We hear a lot about menopause….hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, declining bone density, the end of menstrual periods etc…. Peri-menopause on the other hand is a much less understood stage of a woman’s life and occurs during the years leading into menopause and is often where many women need extra support.

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During this time, a woman’s ovarian function will begin to decline, leading to a range of symptoms that may not be obvious at first.  As there is still a cyclic menstrual bleed, many women don’t make the connection between how they are feeling and the possibility that they are experiencing peri-menopause.

Common changes you might notice during peri-menopause include

  • shorter menstrual cycles (often 26days or less)
  • erratic cycles (varying in length)
  • heavier menstrual bleeds
  • more noticeable PMT (pre menstrual tension)
  • breast tenderness
  • sleep disturbance
  • dry and/or itchy skin
  • fatigue
  • anxiety
  • dry and/or thinning hair
  • urinary incontinence or weakness
  • reduced libido
  • hot flushes and vaginal dryness (although these symptoms are most common during menopause).

What role does progesterone play?

Progesterone is the star hormone produced during ovulation. It helps prepare the body for pregnancy and helps to balance out estrogen levels. Peri-menopause usually begins with a decline in progesterone production and ovarian function. Without a spike in progesterone around day 21 of the cycle, estrogen levels can dominate, leading to unpleasant symptoms such as:

  • heavy and or clotty menstrual periods
  • breast tenderness or fullness
  • mood swings
  • headaches
  • constipation
  • fluid retention
  • weight gain

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On top of this, peri-menopause is often one of the busiest periods in a woman’s life. Women classically have ‘a lot of balls’ in the air at this time….still raising children (whom are often entering their teenage years), while working and running busy households. Managing stress and maintaining a work-life balance can be very challenging during this life stage. Prolonged stress can have a negative impact a woman’s hormones and the impact of stress is often greater during the peri-menopausal stage due to a decline in progesterone production.

 

There is plenty of support available for women going through this phase….often the first hurdle is actually recognising the need for extra support as many women may put their symptoms down to just feeling tired or ‘worn out’ from their very ‘full’ lifestyles.

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Naturopathy has a lot to offer a woman during the peri-menopausal stage, and support at this time can often make the transition into menopause smoother, with many women entering menopause symptom free!

Diet and lifestyle advice can vary depending on the individual presentation but is often centred around improving the body’s metabolism and clearance of hormones. Stress management, and recognising the need to ‘re-fill a woman’s cup’ so that she is able to manage her work-life balance without feeling exhausted, moody or ready to ‘chuck it all in!’.

Herbal and/or nutritional supplementation can bring wonderful supportive relief for many women, and can see them feeling more like their happy selves in a relatively short period of time.

If you think that peri-menopause is knocking on your door, or perhaps after reading this you realise you are well and truely ‘in peri-menopause’ come in and have a chat with me and discover how you can better support yourself during this life stage so you can feel more balanced and able to carry out your many roles as a women - because let’s face it, we wear many different hats, often all in the same day!

 

Love the woman you are!

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