Healthy (peri) Menopause

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If you are a woman in your 40’s or 50’s, you may be starting to experience some changes to your womanly rhythms. It is around these ages that reproductive hormones in a woman’s body naturally start to decline. This process of changing is called perimenopause, the time around menopause. Menopause is when the body stops menstruating for 12 months. Prior to that the body is in the process of transitioning.

Some women may experience or notice symptoms earlier than others. Just because you don’t notice anything, doesn’t mean your body isn’t going through some subtle changes. Some say perimenopause starts 4-5 years before the onset of menopause. This is contrary to what I have been told. Perimenopause, from my understanding, can go on for awhile and you may not even notice right away. No two women are the same.

What are some of the symptoms of perimenopause?

1. mood swings

2. hot flashes

3. irregular periods

4. cognitive problems

5. low libido

6. vaginal dryness

To read more about these symptoms, click HERE to go to the Mayo Clinic’s website.

When should you see a doctor? According to the Mayo Clinic…

  • Bleeding is extremely heavy — you’re changing tampons or pads every hour or two for two or more hours
  • Bleeding lasts longer than seven days
  • Bleeding occurs between periods
  • Periods regularly occur less than 21 days apart

There are lots of things you can do for normal perimenopause symptoms. Remember that this is a natural progression, your body has to go through this change. I think the best way to approach this situation is in a supportive and nurturing way. Help your body get through the process. Don’t try to avoid or mask it. It’s not shameful. Yes, it is annoying but it’s a part of being a woman.

So, perimenopause for me so far is a series of bipolar periods and the occasional night sweats. (I may or may not be moody, crazy, and forgetful; you would have to ask my family) I normally have a 25/26 day cycle. Now, I can go from 42 days to 17 or 19 days. I call it my Emoji Swing (a tribute to the extreme blood sugar swings in diabetics).  In order to help my body settle down, I support it with my diet, natural herbs and tonics. I drink raspberry leaf tea (which helps tonify the uterus) and take Herb Pharm’s Healthy Menopause Tonic now called Menopause Health.

This tonic is not going to make your symptoms go away but it does help support the body and helps to bring it back to a more normal rhythm, or closer to baseline.  I usually only take it for a couple days. My nutritionist had me take it once for 30 days but advised no more than 30 days in a row. I find a couple days works fine. I do not know how well it will work for other symptoms since I am not having many of them on a consistent basis… or not strongly enough yet. What was I saying?

Also, when my cycle is very short (less than 19 days), I make sure to get extra iron and sometimes touch base with my doctor. However, they just want to put me on hormones, so I stopped calling unless I am worried about anemia, iron deficiency or that something else could be going on.

What else can you do to support your body through this change? Eat well, exercise regularly, surround yourself with good supportive people, and be patient with yourself. Really, that’s the key to a good life in general. I also keep a log of my menstrual cycle with an app called “Day After”. It helps me monitor my symptoms for myself and for my doctor.

For those of you who are reaching menopause, check out Kathy Elkind’s blog. She wrote an article about her “Queening Ceremony” and I think it is a wonderfully beautiful idea. What a great way to celebrate this womanly milestone. Thank you Kathy!

Be kind and loving to your body. It’s the only one you have and it does so much for you.

I would love to hear advice and stories from women who have gone through this change. What was it like? What worked for you? What can we expect? What not to do? 

 

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