Motivate

Demystifying Perimenopause: 6 Signs and Symptoms, and What You Can Do (So Much)

Demystifying Perimenopause: 6 Signs and Symptoms, and What You Can Do (So Much)

Entering perimenopause can be a bewildering journey for many women. Often overshadowed by the more well-known phase of menopause, perimenopause marks the transitional period leading up to menopause, and it comes with its own set of unique challenges and symptoms.

Understanding the signs and symptoms of perimenopause is crucial for women to navigate this phase of life with confidence and ease. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of perimenopause, shedding light on its signs, symptoms, and empowering strategies to manage them effectively.

perimenopause

Perimenopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life cycle, typically occurring in her 40s, although it can start as early as her mid-30s. It signifies the transition from reproductive to non-reproductive years and is characterized by hormonal fluctuations, particularly a decline in estrogen levels.

These hormonal shifts can trigger a myriad of physical and emotional perimenopause symptoms, often varying in intensity and duration from woman to woman. You can find out more about the hormonal changes that come with menopause from our post ‘Understanding Menopause: A Transformative Journey in Women’s Hormones‘!

 

Signs of Perimenopause

We are going through the most common perimenopause symptoms, and giving our best tips!

Irregular menstrual cycles

One of the hallmark signs of perimenopause is irregularity in menstrual cycles. Women may experience changes in the length of their cycles, as well as variations in flow and duration of menstruation. Some may skip periods altogether, while others may have unusually heavy or prolonged bleeding.

What you can do as your menstruation becomes irregular

Track symptoms – Use a calendar or tracking app to monitor your menstrual cycles and associated symptoms. This information can help you identify patterns and track the effectiveness of interventions.

Consider birth control options – Discussing low-dose birth control pills with your healthcare provider can help regulate menstrual cycles and alleviate associated symptoms.

Supplements – Some women find relief from irregular menstrual cycles by taking supplements such as chasteberry (vitex), which may help regulate hormone levels. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement.

Anything that helps with hormone regulation – A wholefood based diet, regular exercise and stress management (e.g. mindfulness meditation) will help a healthy hormonal balance.

Hot flashes and night sweats

Fluctuations in estrogen levels can lead to sudden feelings of heat, commonly known as hot flashes, often accompanied by sweating, flushing, and palpitations. Night sweats, which are hot flashes that occur during sleep, can disrupt sleep patterns and contribute to fatigue and irritability.

You can find out exactly what causes hot flashes here!

What you can do to alleviate perimenopausal hot flashes and night sweats

Maintain a cool environment – Keep your bedroom cool at night by lowering the thermostat or using a fan. Lightweight, breathable bedding can also help regulate body temperature and reduce night sweats.

Dress in layers – Wear lightweight, breathable clothing made from natural fibers like cotton or linen, which allow your skin to breathe and help wick away moisture. Dressing in layers allows you to adjust your clothing as needed to manage temperature fluctuations.

Stay hydrated – Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and prevent dehydration, which can exacerbate hot flashes and night sweats. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol, which can trigger hot flashes in some women, may also be beneficial.

Mood swings and emotional changes

Hormonal imbalances during perimenopause can affect neurotransmitters in the brain, leading to mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and even depression. Emotional volatility may be exacerbated by other symptoms such as sleep disturbances and physical discomfort.

 

How you can tend to mood swings and emotional changes during perimenopause

Limiting stimulants – Reduce or avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine, which can exacerbate anxiety and irritability. Instead, opt for herbal teas or decaffeinated beverages to help promote a sense of calm and relaxation.

Adequate sleep – Prioritize getting enough sleep each night, aiming for 7-9 hours of quality sleep. Poor sleep can exacerbate mood swings and emotional instability, so establishing a consistent sleep routine and creating a relaxing bedtime environment can promote restful sleep.

Supportive relationships – Seek support from friends, family members, or a therapist who can provide understanding, empathy, and encouragement during times of emotional upheaval. Talking openly about your experiences and feelings can help alleviate the sense of isolation and normalize your experiences.

Exercise and nutrition – Engaging in regular physical activity, such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, or yoga, can help improve mood and reduce stress levels. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters, and can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression associated with perimenopause. Adopting a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins provides essential nutrients that support brain health and mood regulation. Avoiding excessive sugar, caffeine, and alcohol can help stabilize mood and energy levels.

Stress Management – Do what you can to nurture your mental health by managing stress levels and practicing mindfulness exercises. If you haven’t incorporated meditation into your wellness routine yet, you might want to start! Check out our post on mindfulness as a meditation practice, and the practice of breathwork – find out how deep breathing changes your physiology!

Vaginal dryness and discomfort are common perimenopause symptoms

Declining estrogen levels can result in vaginal dryness, itching, and discomfort during intercourse, a condition known as vaginal atrophy. These symptoms can impact sexual health and intimacy, leading to relationship strain and diminished quality of life if left unaddressed.

 

How you can improve vaginal dryness

 

Regular sexual activity – Engaging in regular sexual activity, including masturbation or intercourse, can help increase blood flow to the vaginal area and promote natural lubrication. It also helps maintain vaginal elasticity and prevents tissues from becoming too thin and fragile.

Water-based lubricants – Using water-based lubricants during sexual activity can help alleviate discomfort and enhance pleasure by reducing friction and irritation. Choose lubricants that are free from irritants and additives and are specifically formulated for sensitive skin.

Vaginal moisturisers – Applying vaginal moisturisers regularly, even on non-sexual days, can help hydrate and lubricate the vaginal tissues. Look for moisturizers specifically designed for menopausal or perimenopausal women, as they often contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid or vitamin E, which help restore moisture and elasticity to the vaginal tissues. You can check out this post by Health magazine – Editor’s Picks: 9 Vaginal Moisturizers and Lubricants That Ease Vaginal Dryness.

Changes in libido

Many women experience fluctuations in libido during perimenopause, with some reporting decreased interest in sex due to hormonal changes, physical discomfort, or emotional factors. Open communication with partners and healthcare providers is essential in navigating these changes and exploring strategies to maintain intimacy and satisfaction.

Working with changes in libido

Open communication – Communicate openly with your partner about changes in libido and sexual desire during perimenopause. Discussing your feelings, concerns, and desires can foster understanding, empathy, and support in navigating these changes together.

Address underlying issues – Explore any underlying physical or psychological factors that may be contributing to changes in libido, such as hormonal imbalances, stress, relationship issues, or medical conditions. Seeking guidance from a healthcare provider or therapist can help identify and address these issues effectively.

Experiment with sensual activities – Explore alternative forms of intimacy and sensual activities with your partner that focus on pleasure and connection rather than solely on sexual intercourse. This can include sensual massage, cuddling, kissing, or engaging in activities that promote relaxation and intimacy.

Perimenopause bloating

Bloating is a common complaint during perimenopause, often attributed to hormonal fluctuations, water retention, and changes in metabolism. Women may notice abdominal bloating, swelling, and discomfort, which can be exacerbated by dietary factors, stress, and other lifestyle variables.

How you can improve perimenopausal bloating

Exercise regularly – Regular physical activity can help alleviate bloating by promoting digestion and reducing water retention. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.

Limit salt intake – Excessive salt intake can contribute to water retention and bloating. Try to reduce your consumption of high-sodium foods such as processed meats, canned soups, and salty snacks.

Consider dietary supplements – Some women find relief from bloating symptoms by taking certain dietary supplements, such as magnesium, vitamin B6, or probiotics. However, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplements to ensure they are safe and appropriate for you.

 

Managing Perimenopause Symptoms Generally

Keep a symptom diary – Tracking your hot flashes and night sweats in a symptom diary can help you identify triggers and patterns, making it easier to manage your symptoms effectively. Note the timing, duration, and intensity of each episode, as well as any factors that may have contributed to it.

Consider hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – For women experiencing severe or persistent symptoms, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be an effective treatment option. HRT involves supplementing the body with estrogen and/or progesterone to alleviate symptoms of hormonal imbalance. It’s important to discuss the potential benefits and risks of HRT with your healthcare provider to determine if it’s the right choice for you.

Dietary adjustments – Certain dietary factors may exacerbate perimenopausal symptoms such as bloating. Avoiding trigger foods like caffeine, alcohol, carbonated beverages, and high-sodium or processed foods can help minimize bloating and digestive discomfort. Instead, focus on a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to support hormonal balance and overall health.

Herbal remedies and supplements – Some women find relief from perimenopausal symptoms by incorporating herbal remedies and supplements into their regimen. Examples include black cohosh, evening primrose oil, soy isoflavones, and omega-3 fatty acids. However, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement, as interactions and contraindications may occur.

Supportive therapies – Psychotherapy, counseling, and support groups can provide valuable emotional support and coping strategies for women navigating the challenges of perimenopause. Talking openly about experiences and sharing tips with others going through similar transitions can foster a sense of community and empowerment.

 

Summary

Perimenopause is a natural phase of life that every woman will experience, albeit in unique ways. By demystifying signs and symptoms and exploring proactive strategies for management and self-care, women can embrace this transition with resilience and confidence.

Whether through hormonal therapy, lifestyle modifications, dietary adjustments, or emotional support, there are countless avenues for navigating perimenopause and optimizing overall well-being.

With knowledge, support, and a proactive mindset, women can embark on this journey with grace and vitality, embracing the full spectrum of possibilities that lie ahead.

Ready to start your motivate journey?

Keep Motivated

Join our community today and get access to free workouts, expert advice and more!

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PREGNANCY FITNESS, IN ONE PLACE.
Enter your email address and we will send you a 100% free e-book on exercise modifications in pregnancy
Limited Copy Left