What is perimenopause?
Perimenopause, often referred to as the “menopausal transition,” is a natural phase in a woman's life that typically occurs in her 40s but can begin as early as her mid-30s. It is a transitional period leading up to menopause, which marks the end of a woman's reproductive years.
During perimenopause, hormonal fluctuations become more pronounced as the ovaries gradually produce less estrogen and progesterone, causing various physical and emotional changes. These changes can include irregular menstrual cycles, hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and changes in libido.
Perimenopause can last for several years and can vary greatly from person to person in terms of symptoms and duration. But the fact that so many people share the perimenopausal symptoms does not make it easier to cope with them.
Whether you are dealing with barely noticeable signs, or the changes are so drastic that you are struggling to recognise yourself, there is a lot that can be done and understanding perimenopause is crucial for women as it helps them navigate and manage the challenges associated with this significant life stage. In this guide you’ll find some actionable tips to help you cope with the changes happening in your body and mind.
1. Rethink Your Diet and Focus on Fresh, Whole Foods
During perimenopause, a woman's body undergoes significant hormonal changes, and it becomes crucial to rethink dietary choices and prioritise fresh, whole foods. This transitional period can bring about various physical and emotional challenges, such as weight gain, mood swings, and decreased energy levels.
At first, you might not notice changes in your appearance and silhouette. However, especially during the run-up to menopause, the metabolism slows down and the body redistributes fat storage. On average, women experiencing perimenopausal symptoms will gain around 1-2kgs (2-5 lbs), but many are at risk of gaining more. While weight gain is a common downside of the menopausal transition, this effect isn’t inevitable and can be managed through suitable dietary changes.
By embracing a diet rich in fresh, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, women can better support their bodies through this transition. These nutrient-dense options provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that can help manage weight, stabilise mood swings, and boost energy levels. Additionally, incorporating foods high in phytoestrogens, like soy and flaxseed, can provide natural hormonal support. By focusing on a diet centered around fresh, whole foods, women can promote their overall well-being during perimenopause and beyond, helping them navigate this stage of life with greater vitality and resilience.
2. Replenish Your Body’s Vitamins With the Right Supplements
Replenishing your body with the right vitamins during perimenopause is paramount for maintaining optimal health and well-being. This transitional phase often comes with unique challenges, including hormonal fluctuations and an increased risk of bone density loss and cardiovascular issues. To address these concerns, it's essential to prioritise vitamins like calcium and vitamin D to support bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Vitamin D - also known as the Sunshine Vitamin, vitamin D is essential for bone health and reduces the risk of osteoporosis that stems from menopause-related bone mass loss.
- Minerals - minerals like Zinc, Calcium, Magnesium, and Iron can help you cope with the increased demand on your body and reduce the risk of deficincies.
Additionally, vitamins B and C can help combat fatigue and mood swings commonly associated with perimenopause. Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, found in foods or supplements, can assist in managing inflammation and supporting heart health. Consulting with a healthcare provider or nutritionist to tailor a vitamin regime to individual needs can be a valuable step in navigating perimenopause.
B Vitamins - vitamins like B2, B6, B9, and B-12 can boost cognitive function, reduce the risk of depression and brain fog, and reduce the intensity of hot flashes.
Vitamin C, A, and E - These vitamins are antioxidants, which fight oxidative stress and can protect you against bone disorders, and heart disease
Taking a supplement specifically designed to tackle symptoms of perimenopause can be a convenient and effective way to ensure that your body receives the necessary nutrients during this phase.
3. Workout and Keep Active
Keeping active during perimenopause is vital to maintain your body and mind in great overall health as you age. Even more importantly, moving your body on a regular basis allows you to steer clear of that vicious circle most women find themselves in! Indeed, as the perimenopausal symptoms hit, many women find it hard to keep up with their fitness and health routine, which can deteriorate their health. Poorer fitness levels can lead to aches, pains, and injuries, which can lead to reduced movement.
But while moving your body is essential, so is finding a fitness routine that works for the changing needs of your body. While you might have been able to endure long aerobic sessions, you might now need to resort to interval training, weight lifting, and reduced cardio. Don’t forget that, no matter the type of exercise you choose, the secret is in finding an activity that you truly enjoy and you can be consistent with!
4. Protect Your Health during perimenopause With Wise Lifestyle Choices
Perimenopause is a phase of a woman’s life during which both her mental and physical health are at their most vulnerable. That is why it is important to understand how to reduce the risk of diseases and keep your mind and body healthy. As the levels of oestrogen drop, your heart might not be as well-protected against diseases. To reduce the risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease, consider:
- Reducing alcohol intake
- Quitting smoking
- If overweight or obese, losing weight
- Practising regular exercise
- Adjusting your diet
Pro tip - During menopause and perimenopause, you might struggle with sleep issues like insomnia, sleep apnea, and night sweats. However, don’t forget that a good night’s sleep is essential to lower inflammation and protect your health. So, consider adapting your physical sleeping environment and make changes to your night time routine to ensure a good nights sleep.
5. Use a Mind-Body Approach
Perimenopause and menopause can take a toll on a woman’s mental and emotional health. A survey conducted on 2000 UK women in menopause showed that 53% of them suffered from depression and low mood, 50% experienced anxiety, and 42% reported mood swings and anger.
In turn, mental and emotional issues can have a significant negative effect on all aspects of your life, including relationships, social interaction, professional life, and personal well-being. And, if you are struggling with mood swings, depression, and anxiety, you might find it much harder to deal with the menopausal changes.
Make sure to protect your mind as well as your body by lowering stress levels, practising disciplines like yoga and Tai Chi, and introducing mindful meditation into your routine.