Most women won’t even really know they are going into perimenopause—the stage roughly 2–10 years leading up to menopause, with menopause said to have occurred 12 months after your period stops. For many women though, the symptoms are significant.
Common symptoms of perimenopause include:
Low libido, vaginal dryness
Reduced ability to cope with stress.
Most people assume that oestrogen is to blame for these symptoms however, during the perimenopausal years, it is actually more likely to be the declining levels of progesterone. Oestrogen definitely plays a role (especially in night sweats but they tend to come later), but progesterone is really the hormone we struggle to adjust to living without. Remember, progesterone is your anti-anxiety, feel-good hormone! It also helps to lighten periods and improve all symptoms of perimenopause.
When we start to come to the end of our perimenopausal years and progesterone is low, oestrogen starts to go on a roller-coaster. At times, oestrogen can actually be up to three times higher than what it was in your younger years, resulting in symptoms such as worsening anxiety and migraines. But, as oestrogen drops significantly, symptoms such as vaginal dryness, weight gain, hot flushes and depression can really start to kick in. You might get irregular periods and some of the other symptoms you experienced in the previous years may intensify.
As your body stops ovulating, your ovaries stop making oestradiol (our loveliest form of oestrogen) and your adrenals take over production. Why is this important? Women who typically struggle with chronic stress, are always ‘busy’ and whose adrenals are already depleted, will experience more symptoms during this transition.
We have only touched the surface here of what women experience during menopause. I will be talking in more detail about these hormonal shifts in my upcoming workshop ‘Menopause – Is it hot in here’ and providing advice on how best to deal with the transition to make it as symptom-free and painless as possible. I will also discuss the role of hormone replacement therapy and how diet, lifestyle and herbal and nutritional medicine can help you. I’d love to see you there!
Written by Denise Berry BHSc
Menopause Workshop – Is it hot in here: Be educated and empowered to take charge of your hormones and your health. You will leave with a clear understanding of what happens during menopause, why these changes occur and, most importantly, information on what you can do to be in control your body. We will also have special offers on the night for guests! Book your place at Menopause Workshop – Is it hot in here.
To come in and discuss your specific situation, book an appointment with Denise. She specialises and is experienced in women’s health and brings an individual, patient-focused approach.