Perimenopause: 5 Symptoms You Can’t Ignore

blog blog page hormones natural hormones perimenopause wellness Feb 26, 2024
middle aged women, perimenopause

A very important 6 min read for women aged 38 - 49. 

Please remember:  you are not alone.  Your symptoms are your messengers, and change is possible.

Reading time: 6 minutes

The female body is extraordinary. With the incredible ability to develop, nurture, restore, and balance throughout every beautiful stage of life. Menopause is an unavoidable stage which occurs on average, at the age of 51.

Before we dig into details, let us review some important terms. 

Hormone 101:

What is a Hormone?

  • A messenger that sends instructions throughout the body

What is Estrogen?

  • Hormones released from the ovaries
  • Regulates our menstrual cycles
  • Regulates body temperature
  • Balances energy levels
  • Balances mood, cognition, and memory
  • Regulates serotonin (our happy hormone)
  • Facilitates bone building
  • Balances the effects of progesterone

What is Progesterone?

  • A hormone released from the ovaries
  • Regulates our menstrual cycles and flow of menses
  • Supports pregnancy
  • Regulates body temperature
  • Supports mental wellbeing by providing a calming effect
  • Balances mood, cognition, and memory
  • Balances the effects of estrogen

It is important to know these hormones as we progress through perimenopause because as we age, our ovaries naturally stop the production of estrogen and progesterone.

Biology 101:

What are the Adrenal glands?

  • Also known as “stress glands”
  • Produces stress hormones (cortisol) in times of stress
  • Produces estrogen and progesterone when ovaries stop (if the body is not producing excess cortisol)
  • Helps to regulate blood pressure

It is also important to understand the adrenal glands (stress glands) because they naturally take over to support these hormonal changes. This is why the connection between stress and perimenopause is so important to understand. The busier our lives are and the more stress we are under, the harder our adrenal glands (stress glands) must work to keep up. When they are unable to keep up, we suffer unwanted symptoms.

Menopause is defined as no longer having a period over 12 months. As we age, our hormones naturally change leading to menopause. At this time, the adrenal glands (stress glands) will take over the production of estrogen and progesterone.

Perimenopause is the transitional phase between our regular hormonal patterns and menopause. 

During this time, hormones can fluctuate as the ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone in varying amounts. These fluctuations can look like irregular periods in occurrence, duration, and flow. The natural shift in hormones occurring at this time can also lead to fatigue, brain fog, irritability, insomnia, low libido, vaginal dryness, tender breasts, and joint pain. However, this is by no means an exhaustive list… 

These symptoms will differ among every one of us and can range in severity and duration. 

Although these symptoms are common, they are not normal. You do not need to suffer through this stage of life. We are designed to transition into menopause with reserves in place such as the stress glands, providing adequate hormones. When we are in stress overload, our body communicates this through an increase in symptoms and severity. Therefore, a reduction in stress results in a reduction in symptoms. Do NOT ignore these symptoms as they may lead to further complications and suffering. 

Perimenopause is commonly experienced between the ages of 43-47. Some statistics show that one in four women will experience severe perimenopausal symptoms. The following information could drastically improve your life. If you are in this age range, please pay attention, as suffering for 4-8 years in this natural transition is not normal.

5 Symptoms You Can’t Ignore

  1. Fatigue. Are you struggling to get out of bed in the morning? Need a strong cup of coffee (or 2) to get you going? Exhausted all day, but unable to sleep at night?

    • Do not ignore this symptom, intense fatigue signals that our hormones are deeply imbalanced and our stress load is way too high
    • Balancing your lifestyle and managing your stress are key factors in resolving this  
  2. Depression or moodiness. Have you noticed a change in your mood, or find yourself more reactive than usual? Are your mood swings more intense?

    • Do not ignore these symptoms, they show that we are under a lot of stress which is directly influencing our mood
    • Our stress hormone (cortisol) has an inverse relationship with our positive mood hormones (serotonin); when stress/cortisol is high, serotonin levels are low
    • Therefore reducing stress is critical to boosting mood and relieving depression
  3. Cognitive decline, forgetfulness, brain fog. Are you struggling to find the right words, or just not feeling as quick as usual?

    • Do not ignore these symptoms, although they are often related to the natural hormone imbalance that occurs during perimenopause, they are worsened by high-stress situations
    • This occurs because a constant production of stress hormones (cortisol) leads to a buildup of toxins causing brain fog, memory issues, and cognitive decline
    • Reducing stress is a key component in regaining a clear mind and improving cognitive function
  4. Migraines/headaches. Are you experiencing migraines more often? Maybe it is just a dull headache that you cannot shake?

    • Do not ignore these symptoms, they show that the fluctuations of hormones are impacting the flow of blood to our brains, resulting in headaches or migraines
  5. Hot flashes. Do you feel a quick rise in temperature, like a flushing of your skin? Sweating more than usual? Commonly occurs in the head, neck, chest, and back.

    • Do not ignore this symptom, this tells us that the hormonal imbalance is upsetting the body’s natural thermostat resulting in unpredictable temperature changes

What now?

Join our Perimenopause Workshop on March 27th, 2024 to learn more.

Click here for more details: Perimenopause Educational Workshop 

It is really important to know that you do not have to suffer from these symptoms. There is a way out! These symptoms are common because we live in a fast-paced Western culture, but they are not normal. Our bodies are designed in such a way that we have a reserve, or backup, to support your body’s needs throughout this transition. This backup is our adrenal glands (stress glands). When we offer support to our adrenals (stress glands), we can allow our bodies to transition through this phase of life as naturally intended.

If you continue to race through your busy lives overwhelmed with stress, this exacerbates perimenopausal symptoms because your backup system is too busy putting out those stressful fires to support what should be a beautiful phase in your life. Getting support to look at what lifestyle changes are needed to support this transition are key.  Managing things within your control - like food, movement and supplements are paramount and foundational.  Managing stress is also key to decreasing these symptoms.  

If you resonate with this info, and want to take action and help yourself - change is possible, and you deserve it!  The next step is to meet with a Naturopathic Doctor for a personalized plan - please reach out and book your appointment with Dr. Jodi Larry, ND.  You can book your 1:1 session here now. Or contact Dr. Jodi anytime with questions via email: [email protected]

In Summary

  • Our bodies are naturally designed to reduce hormone production as we age
  • Our bodies are naturally designed with a backup system (adrenal glands/stress glands) to provide what our bodies require during this phase of life
  • High-stress lifestyles burden this backup system (adrenal glands/stress glands), so they are unable to provide the reserves required to support this phase of life
  • These unwanted symptoms are common but not normal
  • These common unwanted symptoms are exacerbated by high-stress lifestyles
  • The good news is that we have a solution
  • Managing your stress will be the biggest factor in your healing journey. 

Some tips to get you started:

  • Identify your sources of stress and reduce or eliminate them
  • Exercise, walking, stretching
  • Sit in silence: breathe, meditate, pray 
  • Laugh
  • Healthy diet
  • Reach out to a Naturopathic Doctor who can assess you, and give you a personalized plan.  We would love to help = please reach out to book your 1:1 session with Dr. Jodi now.  New patients click here.  Returning patients click here 

Many changes are happening within the body, so it is critical to support and build your emotional and physical health to prepare yourself for the stages to come. 

If you are looking for support, coaching, and love to help you navigate this new chapter, contact Dr. Jodi today! 

Written by Stacey Zacharias, Holistic Nutritionist