How to Know If You're in Perimenopause
Millions of women start their menopausal journey every year, and most of them don’t even realize it. Menopause doesn’t just happen immediately the second estrogen levels start to decrease. First, women have to go through the perimenopausal stage, which can last anywhere from 4 to 13 years, depending on the person.
Not all women experience perimenopause in the same way. In fact, the differences between women in the perimenopausal stage are so vast, that there really is no average that women can measure their experiences against. So, how can women determine whether or not they’re in perimenopause?
When Does Perimenopause Start?
Your body starts going through hormonal changes early on. Estrogen levels can start fluctuating and dropping as early as 35. However, for the most part, these changes tend to be mild. It isn’t until women reach their early to mid-40s that they start to experience perimenopausal symptoms more frequently. This is when the sex hormones experience the most changes prior to the cessation of menstruation, which is the true sign of menopause.
This is not true for women who have undergone partial and total hysterectomies. Women who have had undergone these types of surgery will experience early menopause and many do not experience the perimenopausal stage. Women who have total hysterectomies will go immediately into menopause without the perimenopausal stage as a buffer.
What Are The Symptoms?
Women in perimenopause can experience many symptoms, many of which do not seem obvious at first. Perimenopausal women can experience up to 40 different symptoms, all of which can vary in terms of intensity and frequency. Some women may experience certain symptoms regularly. Some women may not experience certain symptoms at all. Every woman’s biology is unique, which makes it more difficult to determine exactly what you can expect to experience.
That being said, there are some fairly common symptoms that the majority of women report experiencing at some point in their perimenopausal stage.
These commonly shared symptoms can include:
- Irregular periods
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Breast tenderness
- Weight changes
Of course, there are other symptoms that can occur during perimenopause that women may not realize are connected to changes in their hormones.
These can include things like:
- Dry eyes
- Worsened allergies
- Brittle hair and nails
- Dry skin
- Hair loss/thinning
- Difficulty concentrating
- Digestion problems
- Muscle tension & more!
How Does Perimenopause Impact Health?
With so many potential perimenopausal symptoms that women can experience, what can happen to your health as a result? Estrogen helps regulate many systems in your body, from your immune system to your bones and even your brain. When estrogen levels fluctuate and decrease, it can have a ripple effect throughout your body.
The immune system takes one of the biggest hits during the menopausal transition. During perimenopause, the body cannot produce T-cells as effectively. T-cells are key cells in the immune system. They help fight off bacteria, viruses and even help destroy cancer cells. Without enough T-cells, your body cannot fight off infections and illnesses as easily, making you more vulnerable to getting sick.
Memory is also impacted by changes to the sex hormones. Estrogen helps increase the concentration of an enzyme needed to produce a brain chemical called, acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is essential for the preservation of memory. Additionally, estrogen helps improve communication between neurons in the hippocampus, which is a part of the brain responsible for regulating many cognitive functions, including verbal memory.
Just these two examples alone, illustrate how perimenopause can impact your body’s overall health.
What Can You Do?
The real question is, what can you do to help preserve your health and help alleviate some of your perimenopausal symptoms? Being proactive about your health is important during perimenopause. As you go through the menopausal transition, the impact of the loss of estrogen will have more serious consequences as you age. There are things you can do to lessen the impact.
Eating a balanced diet is crucial to helping your body obtain the nutrients it needs to regulate its many systems. Perimenopausal women, especially, need a variety of nutrients like protein, calcium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K to help promote muscle and bone health. Antioxidant-rich foods can help women protect their immune and heart health. Staying hydrated can also help perimenopausal women better tackle certain symptoms like hot flashes, headaches, and even digestion problems.
Having a regular exercise routine can also help preserve your health and alleviate some of your perimenopausal symptoms. Exercising can help you combat issues with weight fluctuation and weight gain. It can also help you strengthen muscles and even help encourage bone tissue growth, which can lower the risk of developing serious osteoporosis in the future. Exercise can also help reduce insomnia and help you fall asleep with more ease.
Taking supplements can also help you alleviate your perimenopausal symptoms and maintain your health. Whether you need to vitamin and mineral supplements, or probiotic supplements, your body will be thankful for the extra boost. Check out the MenoLabs shop page for a look into the different ingredients and benefits our supplements can offer you.
Take Charge of Your Health Now
If you’re a perimenopausal woman going through some confusing and frustrating symptoms, remember that you’re not alone. You have the power to take charge of your health. If you’re unsure whether or not you’re in perimenopause, go to our quizzes page and find out today!