Navigating the Rocky Road of Perimenopause
Years before the end of your periods, a woman goes through a transitional time that is called perimenopause.
This transition – puberty in reverse – occurs as your hormones are gearing down from the high levels needed to reproduce. This transition can take between one and 10 years, but averages about three years. After a full year without a period a woman is proclaimed menopausal.
As a woman reaches the end of her childbearing years, production of her ovarian hormones begins to fluctuate. During perimenopause, many cycles are anovulatory (do not include ovulation) and estrogen levels can sharply rise and then quickly drop. This causes menstrual periods to become shorter, then more and more irregular until they stop.
It use to be true that the majority of women began menopause in their mid-40s to early 50s. In the last generation however, things appear to have changed. Women now may have anovulatory periods starting in their early 30s and yet do not loss their periods until their 50s. During this time, the ovaries continue to produce estrogen sufficient for regular or irregular sheddings, creating what we now term ‘estrogen dominance’.
Some women may go for years with irregular cycles and slowly wind down, or may just suddenly stop menstruating one month and never menstruate again.
What are some of the symptoms of perimenopause?
The variations in hormones that occur during perimenopause are responsible for many of the symptoms. Luckily most of the symptoms typically only last for a few months. About one-third of women have no symptoms, while a third have mild ones and a third have severe ones. Overall, many women can feel unstable during this time.
Here are some of the commonly mentioned symptoms:
- Breast tenderness & swelling
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Water retention
- Weight gain
- Sleep disturbance
- Loss of sex drive
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Heavy bleeding
- Memory difficulties (fuzzy thinking)
- Mood swings
These may be the symptoms of estrogen dominance caused mainly by lack of ovulation and thereby lack of progesterone while their estrogen levels are still in the “normal” range. You doctor may check your estradiol levels and your folicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH) levels, but rartely does it dawn on them that your progesterone levels are too low.
Although perimenopause is perfectly normal, some symptoms should probably be checked to make sure that they are not the sign of something else. This is particularly true for persistent heavy bleeding, persistent palpitations (especially when accompanied by chest pain or shortness of breath), severe depression or fatigue.
Extreme variations in hormones make testing hard. The FSH test, which checks the blood level of the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), is only valuable after you have been without a period for a year, by which time you will have probably figured out that you are in menopause.
Premature menopause is technically defined as menopause that occurs before the age of 40. You stop ovulating and your periods stop completely years before the "normal" age of menopause.
When you’re going through early menopause, you’ll notice symptoms that are the same as those for women in perimenopause … hot flashes, changes in your period, night sweats, mood swings and the like. But you’ll notice these symptoms at a much younger age … in your 20s, early 30s, even late teens. Your estrogen levels drop; your FSH levels rise in an effort to jumpstart your ovarian function … but you stop ovulating and, ultimately, your periods stop altogether decades earlier than usual.
The CRITICAL role of progesterone
Progesterone has a comprehensive role in a woman’s body. And when levels drop, your body is going to react in a big way. We now know that if we allow estrogen to dominate the hormonal environment, there is significant risk of breast cancer and reproductive cancer. So one of progesterone’s most important roles is to balance or negate the effects of estrogen.
At menopause, a women’s estrogen level will drop by 40-60% (or can be lower in cases involving thin women). Just low enough to stop the menstrual cycle. Progesterone levels, however, may drop close to zero in some women.
This wouldn’t have bothered a woman at the turn of the 20th century who rarely lived beyond her reproductive years. But these days a woman can expect to live to 85 years and beyond. She needs to give some thought to how she’s going to rejuvenate her ‘ageing’ endocrine system. Natural hormone replacement will become a vital anti-ageing tool for both men and women, and progesterone supplementation is a good place to start.
Creating a positive transition into menopause
For women who dread the prospect of menopause, I can tell you from my own experience that fifty is not the end of your life but rather a very powerful beginning where you have the opportunity to rebirth your selves. That if you take care of yourself now, your aging process will happen later in life and will be more gradual and less debilitating.
I have discovered through my own experiences that one of the greatest gifts of my life as a mother and patience advocate / educator is to help prepare women, young and old, to be healthy, content, and informed, and to recreate the experience of, and gradual transition into menopause in a positive way for both themselves and for the women who follow them.
Getting the support you need
I set out to turn “Ok, where to from here?” into very simple and easy steps for you to follow. I had, after all, some years before made my own passage into menopause with the wisdom of twenty years of conversations with women behind me. So it made perfect sense that I get to and write a new ebook that captures not just the knowlege but importantly the “know how” – the tips, tricks, and traps of hormone balancing, and dosage techniques – into an easy to understand electronic consumer guide that would address all the critical questions you may want to explore when considering bioidentical hormones.
You’ll learn what you can do to address estrogen dominance, and what you need to consider in terms of hormone balancing as preventative measures again breast cancer.
You’ll uncover the truth about your hormones … a New Age approach to HRT … how to begin picking up the pieces … how to get your doctor on YOUR side … the right way to use progesterone cream for maximum effectiveness … and more.
- The myths behind ‘estrogen dominance’
- How to balance estrogen using natural progesterone
- The most commonly overlooked dangers of a ‘one size fits all approach’ to bioidentical (natural) progesterone
- How to “test” your way into your optimal level
- What your doctor isn’t telling you (and why)
- Why self-medicating is okay
- What clinical studies and medical research have to say (so you get it right the first time!)
- Your best delivery method (based on decades of research)
- How to get a well-deserved prescription for your doctor (if you so choose!)
- The Time-Tested Formula for Ultimate Hormone Harmony
- Your Most Critical “Next Steps”
- Plus ANSWERS to your closet-questions (you know, those you’re too afraid to ask your doctor and friends) about progesterone and cancer … and what to do if you don’t get the results and relief you want the first time.
This DEEP DIVE eGuide was written especially for YOU. So don’t Wait. Download your copy TODAY!
And as always, if you have any questions – I’m here to help.
In love & appreciation,
Catherine P. Rollins
Founder & CEO
Ethically Supporting Women’s Choice of BHRT Since 2001
Don’t let hormones rule your life. Take back your power … today.