Today however, I thought we’d talk a bit about peri-menopause itself.
Despite the fact that it happens to all women by the time they reach around 40-55, many of us have little understanding of what is actually going on in our own bodies.
What is Peri-Menopause?
Peri-menopause is defined as the years leading up to menopause itself.
Menopause is diagnosed after a woman has not had a period for 12 consecutive months, without another reason such as pregnancy.
From puberty onwards, every month when we have our period, we lose another of the eggs we were born with. By our late 40’s, we start to run out of them.
This reduction of ovarian follicles (which hold the eggs), affects our hormone production. As a result, we produce less progesterone, testosterone and oestrodiol (the dominant form of oestrogen prior to menopause).
Because we are making less of these hormones, eggs are not being released regularly. As a result, the endometrium (lining of the uterus), is no longer thickening every month preparation for pregnancy.
Because it isn’t building up on a regular basis, it no longer needs to be shed every month. Hence the skipped and irregular periods.
Eventually, no eggs are released, so the endometrium doesn’t thicken any more, and nothing remains to be shed. This is when your periods stop altogether.
How to Recognise Peri-Menopause
As with the experience itself, the onset varies between women. For some symptoms may appear while still menstruating regularly, while for others they don’t occur until irregularity has set in. Others may not experience any symptoms at all until they have actually reached menopause itself.
Generally, an irregular cycle is the first sign. Periods may be closer or further apart than usual, and possibly heavier due to the fluctuating levels of oestradiol.
Please note that if you are experiencing ongoing bleeding for longer than normal, it is essential to have it checked out.
Reduction of these hormones can lead to uncomfortable symptoms such as vaginal dryness and atrophy (tissue loss) and painful intercourse.
The most common symptoms include hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings, lack of libido, trouble sleeping (and fatigue) and hair loss.
Other symptoms are more insidious and may have implications on your health down the track. Reduced muscle mass and strength, and a loss of bone density need to be addressed.
I’ll be talking about how to tackle these issues to prevent health problems over the next couple of weeks.
Early Onset of Menopause
While a very small number of women experience early onset of menopause due to ovarian failure, there are a few factors which can lead to it occurring a few years earlier.
Smoking has been shown to damage the ovarian follicles themselves. This can cause menopause to occur up to two years earlier in women who smoke at least 14 cigarettes a day!
Ethnicity also appears to play a role, with coloured women experiencing menopause slightly earlier than caucasian women. Then of course, there are genetics. Women tend to go through menopause at a similar time to their mothers and sisters.
The Good News
What is really exciting, is that you don’t have to be a victim to peri-menopause. There are many things you can do to reduce the symptoms you experience and their severity.
Eating well, and prioritising your health, as always, are the first step to feeling good.
In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be launching my 2-week Peri-Menopause Detox to help women just like you to navigate peri-menopause with ease.
It’s a fantastic way to connect with other women who understand exactly what you are going through,. The the same time, you’ll receive individualised support from me to make your peri-menopause experience an enjoyable one.
Many of the ladies who joined us in the last round were astounded to find that they felt improvements within the first week!
Make sure you enter your details below to become a VIP . You’ll be the first to be notified when doors open. I can’t wait to have you join us in the next round!
Hechtman, L. (2014). Clinical naturopathic medicine.