Although menopause is the phase when a woman’s menstruation stops and her reproductive life-cycle ends, there is a phase leading up to that called perimenopause. During these years the body is gearing up for menopause and has similarities to the symptoms of menopause. As you’ll see, this phase is beginning earlier and earlier for women. Let’s explore perimenopause, its symptoms, causes, and your natural health choices to address it.
What Is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause or premenopause was thought to begin in a woman’s 40's, but now it often starts in a woman’s late 30's. This phase is marked by decreased production of estrogen and progesterone and irregular periods. Menstrual flow may increase, decrease, or fluctuate from cycle to cycle. A popular misconception is that menopause symptoms don't start until a woman has no periods. In reality, the hormonal changes that begin in perimenopause begin much earlier and can mimic menopause symptoms.
Perimenopause is a transition time and can last anywhere from two to eight years. Women may think during this time that something is actually wrong with them, when in reality this is the body’s way of preparing for menopause.
Menopause is the term for the ceasing of menstruation and a woman stopping the reproductive cycle of her life. This happens through a complex series of hormonal changes and has officially occurred once a woman has not had a period for 12 months in a row. Menopause usually occurs between ages 45 and 55.
Lack of Energy - Resolved!*
Shortly after going through menopause in my early fifties, my body began to evidence those first signs of aging – first I was diagnosed with high blood pressure; then, a bout of heart arrhythmia; finally, and worst, a nagging lack of energy. I resigned myself to the hard fact that I would never feel the energy of my youth again. I was growing old.
However, five months ago, when new and major breakdowns occurred – severe intestinal problems, daily fatigue, and then major hair loss – I turned to Life Works Wellness Center and poured out the list of my symptoms to Dr. George Springer. Thanks to his wise evaluation and the regimen of natural supplements he prescribed for me, after only four months, I feel that my aging process has reversed itself!
My blood pressure is averaging at or near normal. The re-growth of my hair is so manifest that my hairdresser commented to me last time that my hair is “very, very healthy.” But best of all, I have so much energy that I can once again keep a fast-paced and energetic schedule all day long (no naps needed). I truly feel that I have regained the fifteen years I lost after menopause. Thanks to the wise and caring Dr. Springer, now at the age of 67, happily I am no longer growing old – I’m growing young again!
Symptoms of Perimenopause
Perimenopause symptoms can be similar to the symptoms of menopause like hot flashes, weight gain, insomnia, fatigue and mood swings.
Like menopause, perimenopause can be difficult for women and be accompanied by unwanted symptoms. However, at LifeWorks we want women to know that there is much that can be done naturally to reduce or even eliminate the usual perimenopause symptoms.
Here is a list of symptoms a woman may have during perimenopause:
- Bladder issues
- Bone loss
- Brain fog
- Breast tenderness
- Development of uterine fibroids
- Difficulty becoming pregnant
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping/Insomnia
- Fluctuations in good and bad cholesterol
- Heavy periods
- Hot flashes
- Irregular periods
- Loss of libido (decreased sexual desire)
- Mood swings
- Night sweats
- Short-term memory loss
- Vaginal dryness and problems
- Weight gain
- Worsening of endometrial symptoms
Causes of Perimenopause
Most women enter perimenopause naturally as reproductive hormones such as estrogen and progesterone decline. The reason periods may become irregular, heavier, or lighter is that there may be dips in the hormones as well as surges.
There are specific causes that may put women into early or immediate menopause including chemotherapy and radiation, or a surgery that removes both ovaries. Entering menopause suddenly can be traumatic on the body and on a woman’s emotional and mental health. Therefore it follows that a doctor usually prescribes hormone replacement therapy for a period of years to prevent a sudden transition into menopause.
Some women may also go into perimenopause and menopause early due to issues with their ovaries not producing the proper amounts of or the right combination of hormones.
How We Treat Perimenopause at LifeWorks
Many women may not understand that their symptoms are related to perimenopause, or they may think there’s nothing that can be done to help them. This belief leaves women feeling hopeless and helpless at a time when they need to be at the top of their game for their families and work lives. In reality, there is safe, effective help during perimenopause.
In the past, help for menopause and perimenopause may have done more harm than good due to the nature and source of the hormones being administered, as well as their dosage and combination.
At LifeWorks Wellness Center we do things differently. When a woman comes to us with symptoms of perimenopause we carry out a women’s total health assessment. We do this because we know that all the body systems work together and can have a great effect on the symptoms of perimenopause. In this way we can address the needs of the body naturally. If you think you may be experiencing perimenopause and would like help to make this transition time less difficult, we can order a saliva test, which will reveal your hormone levels and we can work together to bring them back into balance using natural methods.
In addition to the reduction and fluctuations in hormone levels that occur during perimenopause, other possible causes of perimenopause symptoms may be related to adrenal fatigue and a poorly functioning liver. Other factors we consider include diet, environmental factors such as estrogenic compounds like plastics and foods that mimic estrogen, nutritional deficiencies, heavy metal toxicity and other issues. Once we diagnose the related causes to perimenopause symptoms, we can address them naturally through diet, stress relief, natural supplements, and other natural means.
At LifeWorks we may also utilize bio-identical hormone replacement when doing so would reduce or eliminate the perimenopause symptoms a woman is experiencing. If a woman has had a hysterectomy, usually only estrogen is needed. Otherwise a combination of estrogen, progesterone, and possibly other hormones may be utilized.
Doctor’s Videos on Menopause and Perimenopause
Dr. George Springer explains about perimenopause and menopause.
Dr. Minkoff discusses hormone changes.
Dr. Springer discusses Hormones and talks about the blend of the hormonal system to make sure everything is working together correctly.
Dr. Minkoff discusses bioidentical hormones.
Dr. George Springer discusses the reasons why some people struggle to lose weight.
Get Natural Help with Perimenopause
Many Tampa Bay women have found relief from perimenopause symptoms through natural means at LifeWorks Wellness Center. There is help for symptoms of perimenopause.
For more information about our natural treatments for perimenopause, or to schedule an appointment, call us at our Clearwater clinic at 727-466-6789 or submit an online patient inquiry.
More Information on Menopause
- Take Control of Your Hormones--Don’t Let Your Hormones Control You!
- Menopause Symptom Relief
- Hormone Imbalance--Male and Female
- Bioidentical Hormone Replacement
- Hormones--A Delicate Balance
*Disclaimer: Individual patient results may vary based on a patient's medical history and other factors.