Perimenopause is that transitional stage women go though during their declining reproductive years. It typically occurs five years before the onset of menopause. During perimenopause, your ovaries start producing less and less estrogen. This means your levels of follicle-stimulating hormones that help develop eggs rise while your menstrual cycles shorten. Slowly, you start to skip periods. When you go one year without a menstrual cycle, you would officially then be in menopause.
Each woman goes through perimenopause at different rates and often experiences a myriad of symptoms. Up to 80% of women experience uncomfortable hot flashes. These incidences of hot flashes may be so intense that you sweat or even experience heart palpitations. Hot flashes during sleep are called night sweats and are common as well.
Mood swings such as extreme anger, despair, extreme moodiness and anxiousness are common. In fact, women with perimenopause are twice as likely to go through depression. Mental acuity is affected in the form of short term memory problems and lack of concentration. Low libido may occur as well as vaginal dryness – two side effects of lower estrogen levels.
Coping with Perimenopause
Relying on medications and herbal remedies in addition to changing your lifestyle can help you reduce your perimenopause symptoms. Changes will not happen overnight and it will take some experimenting before you discover the right combination that makes this hormonal transition tolerable.
1. Change your habits
Improving your lifestyle by losing weight, decreasing stress and quitting smoking can reduce the frequency of your perimenopausal symptoms. Tweaking your diet is essential for coping as well. Cholesterol naturally increases as you age and go through these hormonal changes. Therefore, you need to lower your fat intake and increase your calcium intake. Doing these two things will help reduce your risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.
Reducing your calorie intake is also important to a healthier lifestyle. Because your metabolism slows during perimenopause you are at risk of losing muscle mass and gaining abdominal fat. Exercising to lose or maintain a healthy weight is important. The endorphins released during exercise helps alleviate PMS type symptoms of perimenopause as well as help you sleep and boost your mood.
2. Pinpoint troublesome symptoms and treat them
Because each woman experiences different symptoms, it is best to treat each one individually. For instance, with hot flashes, you can reduce your consumption of spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol. Black cohosh is a popular herbal remedy with a proven history of alleviating perimenopausal symptoms. Adopting relaxing bedtime rituals can help you with insomnia.
Incorporating yoga or some type of meditation can help elevate your mood. A simple blood test prescribed by your doctor will pinpoint deficient levels of vitamins and minerals in your blood, as a lack of certain kinds can affect your mood. Supplements can definitely help offset any deficiency.
3. Seek medical answers
Sometimes, the medical establishment may have the answers you need to alleviate perimenopause symptoms. For instance, if you experience heavy bleeding and bad cramps, a low-dose birth control pill can regulate these symptoms as well as help with mood swings. Low dose hormone therapy can help with intense hot flashes.