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The Changes in Perimenopause

By Expert HERWriter
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Perimenopause related image Photo: Getty Images

Are you in perimenopause and wondering what in the world is going on with your body? Maybe your cycles are starting to change, you’ve noticed you’re not exactly cold anymore, and suddenly there is some added weight around your middle. Perimenopause is that time in a women’s life where hormones are changing, the ovaries are sometimes working and sometimes not, and it typically starts in 40’s into the 50’s.

I find it important for women to know that the changes that occur are normal (although not always pleasant) and they are not going crazy. Common symptoms include:

Hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain around the middle despite no changes in diet or exercise, joint pain, muscle pains, brain fog, memory issues, low libido, vaginal dryness, hair loss, hair thinning, skin thinning, sleep problems, irritation, crying, mood swings, period changes, heavy periods, skipped periods, periods every 2 weeks, fatigue…should I go on?

Perimenopause is a time of complete change. One minute you feel fine and the next minute you’re a different person with all of these symptoms that are new. Some women breeze through this time with relative ease, not really noticing the warmth, libido or weight issues. Others are so beside themselves with the night sweats that soak through pajamas and sheets, and the periods that are so heavy you can’t leave the house.

While these symptoms are expected, they don’t have to be tolerated. During perimenopause, hormones fluctuate up and down as your ovary is deciding whether or not to ovulate and your adrenal glands are deciding if it can handle both your stress/busy life and hormone production. At our clinic we are big believers in hormone testing, complete thyroid testing, and adrenal testing in order to see your whole picture and help you navigate this crazy time in your life.

What can help naturally? Try layering your clothes in case you get hot and sleep at night in cotton sheets with the window cracked. Focus on your diet by eliminating all sugars which includes alcohol--if I got a dime for each perimenopausal woman who suddenly can’t sleep after a glass of wine I would be a millionaire. Set boundaries and let go of things that worsen your stress. Use your "no" button because in menopause your hormones won’t let you handle what you used to. Try natural options such as black cohosh, evening primrose oil, black currant seed oil, chaste tree berry, ashwagandha, and vitamin E.

Also, talk with your health care provider about appropriate testing and consider bio-identical hormones if warranted. Like I’ve said before, perimenopause is a time of change. Get ready for the ride.

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EmpowHER Guest

I think you are bang on. I started perimenopause in my early 30s. No one believed me including the doctors. I researched and researched because I couldn't figure out what was happening. It's very frustrating and hard to control. I wish there was more info out there and the topic was talked about a lot more. That way women won't be blindsided by the symptoms.

February 2, 2011 - 11:14am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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