What is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause is an ambiguous term, which is often used to explain away a myriad of symptoms. It can feel like a combination of teenage years (emotionally your mood is up and down and sideways, your skin magically has pimples again), and menopause (hot flashes, sleep disturbances, anxiety, night sweats, fatigue).
Perimenopause can generally be considered part of the explanation for new hormonal symptoms if you are 35 – 55 years of age (on average). But perimenopause is not a diagnosis. Perimenopause refers to the time when your hormones are changing, becoming more of a moving target. Your ovulatory cycles become less reliable, and your hormones from your ovaries become less regulated (excess or low testosterone, inconsistent estrogen output, low progesterone).
Perimenopause is your opportunity to pay attention to lifestyle habits, and support your hormones until you reach menopause.
How Can Perimenopause Be “Treated”?
Talk to your naturopathic doctor. The aim is to balance the hormones coming from the ovaries, adrenals, and the thyroid.
One of the first things to look at is appropriate testing and history. Comprehensive urine testing can give information of which hormone pathways are out of balance, how truly exhausted your body is, why your moods might be up and down, and how well your body is dealing with ageing. Blood testing can also be useful looking for markers of general health and/or dysfunction.
Lifestyle is extremely important during perimenopause – more important than any supplements you will take. The habits you maintain predict your health after menopause. Questions you can ask yourself include:
- Do you exercise and what exercise do you do?
- How do you manage stress?
- How well do you nourish your body and hormones?
- Do you laugh often?
- Do you have habits to support healthy digestion?
- Do you cope with uncomfortable emotions well?
A naturopathic doctor can assist you in creating a sustainable healthy lifestyle.
Nutrition is almost as important as lifestyle and mental health. What we feed our bodies, feeds our ovaries, adrenals, and thyroid. Whole, unprocessed foods, low refined sugars, fermented foods, nutrient dense protein sources, and healthy fats are all essential for healthy hormones, and a healthy perimenopause.
Techniques like HeartMath can be a useful tool for balancing the nervous system, decreasing anxiety, and supporting healthy adrenals through perimenopause. Naturmend has a number of practitioners certified in HeartMath, which involves focussed breath work and utilizing bio-feedback with your heart rate variability, in order to retrain the nervous system.
Supplements are also supportive, but may need to be re-evaluated throughout perimenopause, as hormones are forever in flux and the function of our ovaries changes drastically. Botanicals like Chaste Tree can be useful for supporting progesterone, while White Peony can be useful for decreasing excess testosterone from the ovaries (this is what leads to jawline acne and darker hairs on your chin). B6 is essential for healthy hormone production, as well as healthy serotonin and melatonin in your brain. Adrenal support can also be game-changing.
With all supplements, it is best to get them prescribed in a dose that is appropriate for you. The point is not to supplement every symptom, but to offer key foundation supplements to support balance.
Perimenopause is an opportunity to ensure healthy ageing and support your body for the long-term. If you think you might be experiencing symptoms related to perimenopause, talk to your naturopathic doctor.
Hi, I’m Dr. Jenny Schmidt. My practice focuses on family health and wellness, healthy aging for men and women and optimizing fertility & hormone function. I work with you, within realistic and sustainable parameters, to find the root cause of dysfunction in your body and address it. I am available as well for HeartMath, which you can read about here.