Perimenopause and 8 useful steps to take

Perimenopause takes place over several years in advance of the menopause. It's often the time when you experience the most common symptoms of menopause. At perimenopause you'll still have periods so that can be confusing. Before I hit 47 I'd never heard of perimenopause now I think it's the key to understanding and preparing for the menopause. For many of us, it's all about Peri. Consider the eight helpful steps outlined below.

Aisling Grimley, My Second Spring - supporting you at perimenopause.

Aisling Grimley, My Second Spring - supporting you at perimenopause.

Welcome to My Second Spring!


How can you manage the menopause naturally?

Menopause is one of the few certainties in life for women so, if you have the chance, get ready for it - mentally and physically. This is about investing in yourself for the future. 

What are the first signs of menopause? How do you know if you're in perimenopause?

In my experience, and chatting to thousands of women on My Second Spring over the years, the following symptoms are the first signs that you might be in perimenopause:

Most of us find that these symptoms come and go and periods are still mainly present - adding to confusion as to what's going on.  Also, I find that no two women have the same cocktail of symptoms. Click on the links above to get more details of these symptoms and how to manage them. Many of us experience some of these symptoms but never put two and two together and realise it's the menopause knocking on the door. I get a huge number of messages from second springers telling me that they thought they had a terminal disease or were going crazy or developing dementia. We need to chat about this a lot more. There's no need to suffer in silence there are plenty of ways to treat these symptoms. Keep reading...!

Solutions: Look at these 8 ways to help manage your perimenopause: 

1. Manage your Weight

Find out what your appropriate weight is and try to attain and maintain it. Read these great blogs about how to avoid weight gain at menopause

2. Take Regular Exercise that you enjoy: 

Take exercise at least 5 times a week to stay healthy mentally as well as physically. You should be aiming for 30 minutes every day. If you haven't been exercising regularly start gently and build your stamina gradually. Include regular weight-bearing (carrying your own weight) exercise in your routine. Brisk walking is great. Cycling and swimming are great for cardiovascular health but not as good for weight bearing. Dancing is good too if you like dancing.

3. Diet and Nutrition

Develop good eating habits for your long-term health. No fad diets. Lots of us are nutritionally depleted at midlife - consult a nutritionist or your GP and see if you are in balance. For example, a blood test showed that I was deficient in B12 which accounted for my lack of energy. B Vitamins are essential to the smooth workings of many of our bodily functions. Make sure your diet is balanced with tons of vegetables, protein at every meal and lots of whole grains to keep blood sugars and hormones in balance 

4. If you smoke, now's the time to stop!

5.  Develop good sleep habits

Get more sleep and try to develop regular sleeping habits - keep mobile phones and TVs out of the bedroom and try to make your bedroom a sanctuary of calm with full blackout of light at night. If you have problems sleeping avoid caffeine after 12-noon substitute with chamomile tea, adopt a regular bedtime routine and gradual unwinding and relaxation. Choose something you like - a lavender bath, a romantic novel, listening to a guided meditation...

6. Cut down on alcohol and caffeine in your diet

This will help sleep to better and manage weight more easily. Read Vogue Editor Christa D'Souza on the subject of giving up alcohol if you'd like some inspiration.

7. Take Charge!

Find some natural therapies and treatments that you find useful and stress releasing. Or discover a new therapy e.g. yoga, mindfulness, Feldenkrais or acupuncture.

8. Get Support!

Start the conversation with friends even if it makes you feel shy or vulnerable at first. There's still a lot of hush-hush and shame around menopause but most women are relieved and delighted to discover friends are going through some of the same difficulties. Keep in touch with our regular blogs for further inspiration and information.

What is the average age for perimenopause? 

Perimenopause, also known as menopause transition or climacteric (critical period), takes place over several years in advance of the menopause. According to the North American Menopause Society, perimenopause can last for 4 to 8 years. Which makes the average age for perimenopause around your mid to late 40s. The average age for menopause is approx 51 for most women.  However, it is possible for perimenopause to start in the late 30s (early or premature menopause) and early 40s.

During perimenopause the ovaries gradually rebalance their oestrogen and progesterone production in preparation for the menopause and the final cessation of periods. 

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How is perimenopause diagnosed? Is there a test for menopause?

Very often the diagnosis of perimenopause is based simply on your age and symptoms. Your GP can take blood tests to check hormone levels as other diseases can sometimes convincingly mimic perimenopause, he/she may advise you to take several tests because of fluctuations in hormone levels. However, tests are often not conclusive as hormone balance is so individual and can vary from one day to the next and even varies greatly during the day.

Ultimately - the most important indicators come from within – i.e. how are you feeling? What symptoms are you experiencing? Use symptoms as clues - they may point to some underlying imbalance in your life – physical or psychological.  How is your diet? Are you taking exercise? Are you looking after yourself of putting everyone else's needs first? For many of us, perimenopause is like an MOT test – an opportunity to take stock and make lifestyle changes that will improve our well-being in preparation for the next phase of life.

How long does perimenopause last? – a gradual process of change

For most women, perimenopause is a completely normal, gradual process, and not a disease to be treated. Perimenopause lasts until full menopause, i.e. the time when the ovaries stop releasing eggs. In the last one to two years of perimenopause, our bodies create significantly less oestrogen and it is at this point that many of us experience the symptoms of menopause - typically when we are around 48 to 50 years of age.

How can I balance hormones naturally during menopause? Menopause is a time when hormone production is changing and rebalancing. Consider some of these natural therapies to restore balance at menopause.

As hormone production in our ovaries slows down, your body is designed to produce oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone, at other sites in the body. For instance, oestrogen, progesterone, and androgens are produced in the adrenal glands, body fat, the skin and the brain.

According to medical sources around 10% of women experiencing very difficult symptoms will require medical treatment such as HRT. The majority, however, will not require this treatment. If symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats become unbearable, HRT may provide relief for some women. For many women, symptoms can be managed through lifestyle changes such as adapting our diet and nutrition, taking exercise and learning to relax. Difficult symptoms may also be alleviated by using alternative or complementary treatments and therapies such as acupuncture, homoeopathy, reflexology and naturopathy.

How can I prepare for perimenopause and menopause?

An opportunity to take stock

It is important that, mentally and physically, you are as healthy as possible as you enter this new phase of life. Perimenopause need not be a negative phase of life -  use it as a time to consider what changes you would like to make as you look at your current lifestyle and circumstances. Consider ways to improve and support your natural health.

Are you looking after yourself? Is perimenopause the prompt you need to put yourself first?

Your endocrine system is responsible for hormone production and it works to rebalance hormones and manage the changes brought on by perimenopause.  The endocrine system may be under pressure coping with the changes in our bodies during this phase of life and it may produce uncomfortable symptoms as a clear signal that changes need to take place. This is often the case if we have not been able to look after ourselves properly. For example, many of us are living under significant stress at home or at work. Often our diet fails to meet the body’s increased demands. You may be chronically ill, you may smoke or drink to excess. Many of our relationships can be draining and we may sleep badly. Overall, our energy reserves can be drained. During perimenopause the body may start to ring alarm bells by producing symptoms that make us stop, think and make necessary lifestyle changes – for ourselves. So, as I say again and again listen to your symptoms - they act as alarm bells, indicators that something is not right! You may just need to make some very small adjustments eg take a supplement to get back in balance

The sooner you realise that you are perimenopausal the better. By addressing the symptoms and spending some time and energy looking after your health will minimise the impact of menopause and ensure that you are in prime health for the second half of your life.

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The Best Friend’s Guide: Anxiety - A Practical Toolkit For Moving Beyond Anxiety at Menopause - €12

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A more detailed list of symptoms of perimenopause

Women may experience some of the following symptoms during perimenopause. Don't panic you may experience very few of these symptoms or none at all! Click on individual links to get more details and a range of ways to manage these symptoms using a wide variety of techniques and adjustments. Consult your doctor or other health practitioner if you are concerned about any of your symptoms

My Second Spring E-book

{caption}

The Best Friend’s Guide: Anxiety - A Practical Toolkit For Moving Beyond Anxiety at Menopause - €12

Thanks Girls another great book ! Well done My Second Spring, the advice is practical, down to earth and I’m already working on my toolkit. Thank you so much

Order Now

Can I become pregnant during perimenopause? Yes, you can!

As the ovaries are still producing eggs, albeit erratically, it is still possible to become pregnant during perimenopause. It is therefore advisable to use birth control until two years after your last period.

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Lately on the Blog 

Have a look at our blog for inspiration on a very wide range of topics. If you'd like to share some thoughts feel free to comment or even write us a blog - why not? Join on our mailing list to remind yourself that we're here with support for you at the often tricky time of life.

Our Events

My Second Spring has run some great events runs on topics of special interest to women over 40. The idea is to learn from Experts and of course from each other. Events are a lot of fun as well as being inspirational. It's great to meet so many women and understand what's really on their minds. We are currently gearing up to start doing Facebook Live events which will also be shared here on My Second Spring for those who are not on Facebook.

Stories - First-hand accounts of other women's experiences of menopause

There's still a lot of shame and taboo around the subject of menopause so conversations can be limited amongst your peers Luckily some women have generously shared their personal stories, hearing someone else's take and insights can give a lot of clarity to our own situation. I'm sure you'll hear some stuff that resonates with you and some stories that will make you laugh out loud like Catherine's story. Visit our stories section and have a read. I've shared My Aisling's Menopause In 10 have a read and please drop me a line if you'd like to share your story to aisling@mysecondspring.ie. Thanks for reading. xx Aisling

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