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Menopause may seem a long way off and something you don’t give much thought to until you begin experiencing symptoms. For some women the symptoms or changes can appear subtly and slowly. For some women the symptoms can appear all of a sudden and at high intensity. 

Firstly, let’s clarify what menopause is and introduce you to the term peri menopause which is actually the precursor to menopause. And before we go any further don’t panic, there is absolutely nothing to fear. It’s a completely natural phase in a woman’s life, one that we all experience. 

Peri menopause is when a woman’s body begins transitioning from her reproductive years towards menopause. During this phase your body produces less hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) which begins the initial changes to your body and menstrual cycle.

Menopause is one day in your life – it occurs when you have no longer had a period for 12 months. During the peri menopause phase, your periods are likely to become less regular, until they eventually stop. Twelve months after your last menstrual cycle is when you officially reach menopause.

Common signs of peri menopause

For most women, peri menopause will begin sometime in your 40s. It’s likely that your level of hormones begin fluctuating and can swing rapidly from high to low without warning or apparent reason.

Some of the initial signs your body is entering the peri menopause phase may include:

  • Shorter menstrual cycles
  • Heavier periods
  • Hot flushes
  • Night sweats
  • Mood swings
  • Weight gain
  • Low libido
  • Exhaustion
  • Insomnia 

You may experience one of these symptoms or all of them at the same time. Each woman’s experience can be different and unique, yet educating yourself is key to thriving during this time.

Hormonal & physical changes

Our bodies are amazing! They carry us through our life cycle from childhood, through our teenage years and puberty, child bearing years, mid-life and beyond. If you think about all the internal functions created by your body, it really is a miracle. 

Let’s take a closer look at the hormonal changes that induce physical changes during peri menopause:

Progesterone 

This hormone is produced in the ovaries and helps your body prepare for pregnancy, conception, regulates your menstrual cycle and impacts libido. When your progesterone levels fluctuate you may experience:

  • Low libido
  • Hot flushes
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Anxiety, mood swings or depression
  • Changes to menstrual cycle 

Oestrogen 

If your body is low in progesterone, it’s likely that oestrogen is dominating your hormone levels. This can lead to:

  • Weight gain
  • Heavier bleeding
  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Anxiety, mood swings or depression

How to manage peri menopause

Through our experience and work in this space, and our discussions with many medical professionals, it’s important to note that the more you educate yourself on what is happening to your body, the easier your transition into peri menopause will be. 

You need to empower yourself with knowledge.

It’s important to note that peri menopause and menopause is not a medical condition. However, when symptoms present themselves, many women believe there is something medically wrong with them because the symptoms often overlap. 

Dr Fatima Khan, a highly skilled peri menopause and menopause specialist, shared with us during our World Menopause Day Panel Discussion that 50% of peri menopausal women present with mental health symptoms. These symptoms include anxiety, low mood, brain fog and low self-esteem. 

Focus on lifestyle habits

Focussing on your whole health will help you take control of your experience. It will help you reconnect with yourself – emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually – especially during this time when you may feel a disconnect with you. Incorporate the following healthy habits into your daily regime to thrive through peri menopause:

Movement

Moving your body has enormous benefits and positively impacts your physical, emotional and mental health. Do something you enjoy as it’s more likely that you’ll do more of it (for eg, yoga, walking, jogging, cardio class or gym session). Aim for 30 at least 3 times each week. 

Nutrition

Ensure you are incorporating a healthy, balanced diet to support your body’s changing nutritional needs. Read more in our article, Supporting Your Nutritional Needs in Menopause to learn more about the types of food that will benefit you at this time.

Mental Health

Minimise your exposure to stress and anxiety by focussing on your mental health. Through self development and learning you can find strategies that work for you. Some effective ways to harness stress minimising techniques include meditation, yoga, journaling and deep breathing

Sleep

Sleep is crucial to your hormone health and can greatly impact your mood, energy levels and cognitive capabilities. Develop a routine that promotes a good night’s sleep by incorporating meditation, essential oils, a warm bath or reading before bed.

Empower yourself

The key to getting through this life phase is to empower yourself with knowledge. In our article, Menopause Symptoms: What you need to know we share the three most common peri menopause symptoms, known triggers and how to overcome these symptoms naturally. 

If you are struggling with peri menopause or want to be empowered to have a positive experience, we encourage you to learn more about our Peri Menopause Power Program. This is your safe space to reconnect and come back to being YOU. 

You may also like to listen to our Peri Menopause Power Podcast where we take you through different topics to empower you on your own peri menopause journey. 

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