Updated: Sep 23, 2021
If you are in your 40's to early 50's, did you know you are most likely in the lovely stage of perimenopause? During perimenopause, you are still having periods, but they are not exactly normal anymore. Most women are like WTF is going on with my body?
In this YouTube video, I share what to expect and then give you 7 strategies to help get you through the hormone madness. In this blog though, I'm throwing in a bonus tip below!
The difference between perimenopause and menopause is that at menopause you have not a period for 12 straight months in a row. You’re done having them.
This happens naturally or can be surgically induced through a total hysterectomy. It is considered normal to go through menopause anytime after 45, but the average age in the US is around 51.
So what can you expect with your period during perimenopause?
Typically you’ll start by having some shorter and more frequent cycles - sometimes even 2 periods in a month.
Then you may have light cycles that only last a couple of days.
Followed by having super heavy week-long cycles.
These changes can last for several years. My biggest changes began when I was 43, so 4 years ago. Since then, I’ve had cycles that have been anywhere from 12 days long to 131 days long. I’ve had periods that were super light for a couple of days to ones that were 10 days long while going through super and ultra tampons like nobody’s business! It’s literally all so annoying!
With all the craziness though, tracking is essential in perimenopause. I’ve been tracking my cycles and symptoms since my changes began using the free version of the app, Clue.
According to the Mayo Clinic, if you are in the early phases of perimenopause, you will have a persistent change of 7 or more days in the length of your cycle. If you go 60 or more days between periods, you're likely in the late phase of perimenopause and closer to menopause.
Perimenopause is a crucial time to really get to know your body, so if you’re not paying attention yet, start now! My personal goal is to find the best hormonal balance I can naturally, based on how I feel and what my symptoms are trying to tell me. You don't always have a cycle, so you need to learn your body's symptoms.
You see, the hormones that used to make our cycles work seamlessly, estrogen and progesterone, are now spazzing out in our 40's. They fluctuate up and down until they eventually both drop and stay at low levels when we reach menopause.
When your estrogen is higher than your progesterone, you may experience symptoms such as:
Decreased sex drive
As your estrogen levels lower, you may notice other symptoms like:
Irregular or skipped periods
Hot flashes and/or night sweats
Feeling more sad or anxious
Decreased sex drive
Higher cholesterol labs
Causes an increase in insulin, which makes us more sensitive to carbohydrates and sugar
On top of these changes during perimenopause, our stress levels are typically high (whether we realize it or not). With a busy family, work, and life commitments stress is very common at this stage in our life. On top of this natural stress, when our estrogen and progesterone levels drop, it tends to increase our cortisol (stress hormone) levels further.
For some great solutions that talk about this, I highly recommend reading the book, The Rushing Women’s Syndrome by Libby Weaver.
So what can we do to manage all of this madness? Here are 7 strategies I use.
Get to know your body and be prepared. Get an app like Clue and record what’s going on with your period and symptoms. Expect the unexpected by always being prepared. It’s time to carry a tampon or two in your handbag.
Nurture yourself the week before. If you can still somewhat predict your period, make the 5-7 days prior to starting a time to chill and prepare your body for it. Ease up on your intense HIIT workouts and try more stretching, yoga, and walks. Allow yourself to take a nap if you need one. Get ahead of sweet cravings by including a serving of soy-free 70%+ dark chocolate. And, help build up your progesterone with smart carbs like sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and beans.
Avoid xenoestrogens, estrogen-mimicking chemicals. Don’t use BPA plastics to store food or drink out of plastic water bottles. Avoid pesticides use toxic-free beauty and cleaning products.
Support healthy estrogen with phytoestrogens and cruciferous veggies. Include daily servings of flaxseeds, sesame seeds, apples, strawberries, sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and/or cabbage.
Stay on top of your stress. Especially the week prior to your period! Get better organized. Practice deep breathing. Implement stress breaks. And take outdoor walks on as many days as possible.
Limit alcohol and caffeine. Excess alcohol and caffeine intake can trigger symptoms like hot flashes and sleep struggles. Give yourself at least several alcohol-free days each week and avoid caffeine after 12 pm each day.
Take advantage of natural supplements. Talk to your doctor about getting extra support for troublesome symptoms with supplements like magnesium glycinate for sleep, ashwagandha for stress, and black cohosh for night sweats and hot flashes. I personally have found great results with all of these.
BONUS! Don't fast before your cycle. If are using intermittent fasting as a tool to keep insulin and inflammation down (and you should!), ease up on any fasting the week before your cycle. This will help keep added stress on your body down and help support progesterone.
Hope you feel a little more ready to take on this transition!
Let’s get FIRED UPP! Nat P.S. Need accountable support and guidance on this transition? Check out my online coaching programs. I walk you through the process toward hormonal balance step-by-step!