Huge numbers of women are taken by surprise by the perimenopause in their early forties and sometimes even earlier following surgery.
They are often completely unprepared, confused, alarmed by the sudden onset of their symptoms and totally unaware that medical studies confirm their significantly increased risk of heart disease as a result. But you don’t need to fall down a rabbit hole at midlife if you are armed with sufficient knowledge, in fact, it can be an empowering time of life and a whole new beginning.
As you go through your 40s, the supply of eggs you were born with starts to run out and your ovaries stop releasing an egg each month. This means you no longer produce so much progesterone and oestrogen. Eventually, your ovaries run out of eggs altogether, progesterone production ceases and oestrogen levels fall. Oestrogen is required for many bodily functions – not just for reproduction – including strong bones, a sharp mind and a healthy heart, so it is inevitable that you will feel the effects of this change.
‘Peri’ means around the time of, and perimenopause can begin about five years before the actual menopause. Whilst it may simply bring a degree of unpredictability into your life initially, since periods become irregular and it seems like you have PMS for longer, other less fortunate women will feel like they have PMS all the time, noticeable mood swings and more black days than they care to count.
The first sign that things are on the move is usually a change in the pattern of your periods.
They may become irregular, longer or shorter, as well as heavier or in some cases lighter. Other perimenopausal symptoms include hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, loss of libido, loss of energy, sleepless nights and not being able to concentrate – at first just occasionally, but as time goes by, more and more frequently.
Fluctuating hormone levels may not be the only trigger of menopausal symptoms. The many surveys that we have carried out at the Natural Health Advisory Service suggest that dietary and lifestyle factors at this time of life can also play a significant part. Pregnancy, breastfeeding, as well as nutritional imbalances that may have developed over the years as a result of dieting, poor eating habits or malabsorption, often take their toll, leaving many of us in a nutritionally depleted state as we approach the menopause.
Peri-menopause also tends to hit most of us at a psychological turning point, when natural fears about ageing and what the future may hold start weighing on our minds.
You may be overloaded with other problems, such as juggling your way through the ups and downs of life with teenage children, what seem like ever increasing demands in your workplace, caring for elderly relatives, changes in your relationship with yourself and your partner. It’s not surprising that you feel challenged and even scared about whether you will cope.
Despite all the changes you may be experiencing, it is important to keep things in perspective. The menopause need not be the end of life as you once knew it, but rather the beginning of a new phase that can be just as exciting and rewarding as your earlier years. As long as you take into account all of your symptoms, there is a lot you can do to make this transition into the next stage as smooth as possible and by consuming naturally occurring oestrogen through food and science based supplements you can tip the scales so that you are once again preventing heart disease rather than becoming more vulnerable.
What seems like midlife mayhem can turn into the beginning of a wonderful new phase in your life.
You just need to know how to meet the needs of your body. You can find out more about what’s going on in your body at this life stage and how to correct it by attending one of my free online workshops where I also answer questions live. To reserve your place please see here.
In the meantime, please could you help me quantify the hidden cost of menopause through my new survey as I am aiming to highlight the need for more help and support for women both in the workplace and at home around the time of menopause. It will take about two minutes of your time and as a thank you from me you will receive a magazine style collection of phytoestrogen rich recipes in your inbox.