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Wednesday, September 15 2021

Perimenopause Needs Good Management

Text sign showing hand written words Perimenopause

Perimenopause can stretch out over more than a decade. Women hear so much about hot flashes, night sweats, and weight gain that they may not realize just how much their body and mind can change during this lengthy transitional period that culminates in the end of menstruation. As common as it is to go through perimenopause, the physiological process is relatively complex. We think of this transition as a gradual decline in estrogen levels. However, during perimenopause, these levels could be at their highest, at least sometimes. Generally, we see them rise and fall based on the symbiotic relationship between estrogen and progesterone. Here, we discuss some of the symptoms that many women don’t recognize as perimenopause and some tips for managing this life stage. 

Estrogen levels may rise at certain times of a woman’s cycle but typically decline as the body then produces more progesterone. Without adequate progesterone (and general hormonal balance), a woman may experience symptoms such as:

  • Bloating
  • More frequent periods
  • Heavy periods
  • Painful periods
  • Breast tenderness
  • Irritability or rage

When estrogen levels are low, a woman may begin to experience:

  • Vaginal dryness
  • Irregular periods or skipped periods
  • Difficulty with memory
  • Difficulty with verbal recall
  • Low libido
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Joint pain
  • Changes in hair growth or hair loss on the head

One thing that women should know about perimenopause is that these hormonal changes are not linear. They may be cyclical, circling back around with each cycle. Any of these symptoms could come and go as a result. This is why it is essential that each woman get to know her body better during this time of life. She can do so as she takes steps to support herself. 

Self-Care Items to Consider During Perimenopause

  • Check in once a week, or once a day, to clarify what you’d like your life to feel like. These check-ins may include a few minutes of silent stillness, guided meditation, or journaling. 
  • Consume more healthy fats and lean proteins. Examples include avocado, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, eggs, fish, and lean meat. 
  • Reduce alcohol consumption. Alcohol impacts sleep as well as mental health. It also distracts the liver from processing oestrogen properly. 
  • Prioritize sleep. Set a bedtime routine that helps establish optimal sleep hygiene.
  • Exercise regularly. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but should include some strength training a few days a week to promote bone health and limit bone loss after menopause.
  • Create boundaries. Saying “no” is an act of self-care!

Dr. Cheri Ong is a women’s health specialist who has created functional and nutritional programs for women going through perimenopause. Learn more about her XX Restore program and contact us at (480) 771-7771 to schedule your consultation in our Scottsdale office. 

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