Perimenopause – a time of hormone fluctuation not unlike a second puberty!
Perimenopause can be a challenging time – hot flushes, poor sleep, mood changes, anxiety, irritability, weight gain to name a few. It has been described as a “second puberty”, by Dr Lara Briden (a Christchurch based hormone specialist), a time of hormonal fluctuation and imbalance. Every woman’s experience is different – some seem to sail through with very few symptoms, whereas others experience the full range. Remember it is not a life sentence, you will move through this stage, and things will improve.
What happens to your hormones during perimenopause.
On average perimenopause can take up to seven years. Contrary to what you may have been led to believe the first hormone to decline is progesterone. Progesterone is a lovely stress buffering hormone that is calming and anti-anxiety. Instead of rising naturally in the second half of your menstrual cycle (after ovulation), during perimenopause it may not increase at all, as often your cycles are without ovulation. Lack of progesterone can make you feel anxious, wired and irritable. It can also make your cycle irregular, and your periods heavier and longer lasting, as your oestrogen is then high relative to your low progesterone.
Your oestrogen then begins to behave erratically, fluctuating from high to low. When it drops it can trigger hot flushes and night sweats, which are very unpleasant and trigger other issues such as poor sleep. Despite eating and exercising as you always have, you also may feel like you are gaining weight. It can be very frustrating!
The good news is there are things you can do that help!
Perimenopause is a fantastic opportunity to take care of you. Changes you make now will have long lasting positive effects on your health and well-being. Here are 3 things you can try.
- Look after your nervous system and manage your stress – when your ovaries stop producing oestrogen and progesterone your adrenal glands take over but only produce small amounts. However if the adrenal’s are busy producing stress hormones and are constantly in “fight or flight mode” because you are stressed or anxious then there is very little room for other hormone production. Mindfulness, yoga, deep breathing, exercise, walking in nature are all great ways to reduce your stress levels. As is laughing and hanging out with friends.
- Eat well – eat a diet based on whole foods, lots of vegetables and fruit, good quality protein and fats, whole grain carbohydrates. Avoid sugar, processed foods and stimulating food and drinks.
- Look after your liver – as your hormones are all metabolised through your liver, trying not to overload it with toxins such as too much alcohol or caffeine, processed foods, and environmental toxins, can be really helpful.
My favourite foods & nutrients during perimenopause.
- Flaxseeds, lentils parsley and other phytoestrogens – these have a mild oestrogen type effect on a much gentler scale than any hormone replacement therapy
- Cruciferous vegetables – such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and bok choy help to detoxify and metabolise oestrogen more effectively
- Magnesium – an essential mineral often lacking, that helps with sleep, insulin regulation, stress management and relaxation. Food sources include nuts and seeds, leafy greens and oats
- B vitamins – to help support the stress response
- Zinc – great for skin, hair and vaginal dryness
- Liver Support – specific supplements that help support the liver do its job
- Herbs such as withania, passionflower, magnolia, ziziphus – to support the stress response and help with good sleep patterns.
Perimenopause can be an incredibly difficult and frustrating time for us and on top of a normally busy life sometimes unbearable. I would love to support you through this time by creating a plan specific to your needs.
Book a consultation with me today.