Surviving the great roller-coaster ride of perimenopause

Being female and in your 40’s can lead to noticeable changes in your health. For some women it marks the beginning of physical and emotional health problems that they had never experienced until now.

Hot flushes, trouble sleeping, night sweats, mood swings, weight gain, thinning hair, low libido and irregular and/or heavy periods. You’re only 44 but you’re thinking its menopause already!? No, menopause may still be years away. This is perimenopause, which is the 2 to 10 years of hormonal changes that occur before menopause (the life phase that begins 1 year after your last period). Perimenopause can be a difficult time and often causes more symptoms than menopause itself.


Hormone changes

The hormonal changes that occur in perimenopause are a natural, normal process. We start to make less of the hormone progesterone and our oestrogen can go on a crazy roller-coaster ride. Oestrogen does not necessarily decline gradually prior to menopause like many people believe. If it did, you would have the type of perimenopause where your periods just gradually get lighter and lighter until they fade away and you wouldn’t have many other symptoms. Sounds pretty good! But instead it can fluctuate wildly. It may rise to double what you had in your 20s or 30s, only to then crash down to almost nothing. And then do it all again the following month. This is the oestrogen roller-coaster of perimenopause, and its effects can really be a problem for some women.

High oestrogen causes breast pain, heavy periods, fluid retention, and irritable mood. The decline to low estrogen causes fatigue, depression, terrible insomnia, night sweats and hot flushes.

At the same time, progesterone is leaving the building, because monthly ovulation is occurring less frequently. Unfortunately, this is when we need progesterone more than ever – to counterbalance the oestrogen. Progesterone helps to calm your nervous system, while estrogen stimulates it. This is why coping with stress may also become more difficult at this time. We lose the progesterone that normally calms and stabilises our adrenal response system, meaning we are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression and insomnia.


What can you do

Self-care. You are in a vulnerable time but it will not last forever. Slow down and look after yourself at least until you get to the other side of menopause. This may mean changing the type of exercise you are doing, to include more Yoga, Pilates, walks in nature and regular meditation.

Take Magnesium to help boost progesterone. Magnesium is a powerful stress-reliever, it reduces adrenaline, regulates cortisol, helps reduce insomnia, hot flushes and other symptoms of perimenopause.

Support detoxification and clearance of oestrogen by reducing alcohol, supporting your liver and maintaining healthy intestinal bacteria.

Take practitioner provided Withania. An “adaptogen” herb, it stabilises our stress response and has anti-anxiety and sleep-promoting effects.

Progesterone. Your body will eventually adapt to low progesterone, but in the meantime, you can talk to your Doctor about micronised progesterone in the form of a capsule or cream, which is very different to conventional HRT.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with perimenopause, talk to me for some diagnostic tests and natural treatments so I can help get you back to feeling like your normal, healthy self.

Jen Kellett