Nearly half of the world’s population will experience perimenopause - and yet, a lot is still misunderstood or misinterpreted about this important period of a woman’s life!
While most women dread the symptoms of perimenopause, there is a lot that you can do to live the years leading up to menopause with grace, health, and happiness.
How? By learning what to expect and how to manage the upcoming changes in your body! Get started with this guide to get your questions answered and bust the misconceptions and myths that still surround perimenopause!
First Things First: What Is Perimenopause?
Most women are familiar with the term menopause. But isn’t this the same as perimenopause? And, if not, what is the difference?
The term “menopause” is often incorrectly used to refer to a woman who no longer experiences menstrual cycles. But, more precisely, menopause refers to a single event: the last period). The “postmenopausal” phase is confirmed 12 months after this episode. In the UK, the average age of menopause onset is 51, but ovaries can stop producing eggs at any point between the 40s and 50s (or earlier in the case of early menopause).
On the other hand, perimenopause - also called menopausal transition (MT) - is a less defined period that women enter and exit gradually and can last 7-14 years. The MT is caused by ageing ovaries and leads to menopause.
How Do I Know When I’m in Perimenopause?
As we have seen, perimenopause is a period that can last between a few months to over a decade! During this time, you’ll experience a range of telltale signs that you are in early or later perimenopause.
For example, if you have noticed changes in your menstrual cycle you might have entered early perimenopause. When these changes become more significant (i.e.: 60 days or more between periods) you might be entering late perimenopause.
What Common Symptoms Should I Expect in Perimenopause?
Symptoms of perimenopause vary greatly from woman to woman. For some, the change is so mild that signs are not noticeable or noticeable in hindsight. However, for some other women, common symptoms of include:
- Irregularities in the menstrual cycle
- Hot flushes and night sweats
- Sleep problems like insomnia
- Vaginal issues (i.e.: dryness), low libido, decreased fertility
- More frequent need to urinate
- Weight gain and appearance changes (i.e.: thinning hair)
- Emotional issues (i.e.: irritability and mood swings) and changes in personality
What Helps Relieve the Symptoms of Perimenopause?
In most cases, women can manage the symptoms of perimenopause without medical help. But if you have noticed that these changes are taking a toll on important areas of your life - like relationships, body image, and sex life - you should consult your GP.
Some available treatments include oral contraceptives and hormone therapy.
How Should I Change My Diet During Perimenopause?
As your metabolism slows down and the way your body stores fat changes during menopause, you might find that maintaining a healthy weight is an uphill battle! But don’t forget how much your body is already doing to keep you healthy and strong!
Adapting your diet to your changing needs can be an excellent way to improve your overall health.
While nothing can replace the expertise of a specialised nutritionist, as a general rule, you should:
- Limit the intake of trans fats in fatty foods
- Reduce the intake of salty or sweet snacks
- Increase your intake of calcium, iron, and fibre
- Create a diet plan based around fresh, whole, and healthy foods like grains, fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, leafy greens, and “good” fats like avocados,
What Supplements and Vitamins Can Help With Perimenopause Symptoms?
Because of the changes that happen during perimenopause and menopause, you should support the health and wellbeing of your body with the right supplements and vitamins. Some of the essential ones include Magnesium, Zinc and Iron, Vitamin B6, B12, C & D which are found in our Menopure supplement. But you chould also invest in supplements like Vitamin A, and K, as well as Omega 3s.
What Kind of Exercise Is Best To Practice in Perimenopause?
When you enter perimenopause, your body will start to work differently than you are used to. So, your exercise routine might no longer work for your needs or yield the expected results. In this case, working with a specialised coach or fitness instructor can be invaluable.
As a rule of thumb, perimenopausal women can benefit from interval training, cardio, and weight training. However you don't necessarily need to pay for an expensive gym membership, there are a number of free workout programs which can be found online (YouTube). People of all ages can also take advantage of body-mind disciplines like Tai Chi, Yoga, and Pilates to maintain balance, reduce injuries, boost your range of movement, and keep muscles supple and strong. Again free programs can be found online.
What Health Risks Should I Address During Perimenopause?
As the oestrogen levels begin to drop and you experience changes in essential compounds like calcium, you might become more exposed to heart issues and bone disorders like osteoporosis.
You can keep yourself safe from these conditions by adjusting your diet, keeping active, quitting smoking, avoiding caffeinated beverages, and reducing stress.
What Can I Do To Get a Good Night’s Sleep Back?
According to the Sleep Foundation, around 40% of women in their 40s and 50s experience sleep disorders. Perimenopausal changes can affect a person’s ability to get a good night's sleep.
What’s more, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and sleep apnea can make it all the more difficult to get your beauty sleep in! Luckily, you can treat these conditions, with supplements and you could also try sleep meditation, there are a number of free videos available online.
When Will I Feel Like Myself Again?
The perimenopausal period can last over a decade, but the symptoms are at their most intense for a period ranging from 1 to 3 years. Understanding what’s ahead and making the necessary lifestyle changes can help you tackle the long-term effects of menopause, while also living the years ahead with a positive mindset.
Don’t hesitate to seek help from your GP or specialised healthcare provider!