September 29, 2022
Are you in your fabulous 40s? If you are, you may have noticed your body changing. Perhaps you are experiencing night sweats and your sleep is not as good as it used to be, or maybe you feel like you have brain fog and your mood is changing.
What you may be experiencing is Perimenopause (also referred to as the menopause transition). This is when your body starts transitioning through the menopause. During this transition, your ovaries begin producing less hormones, causing your menstrual cycle to become erratic or irregular. At this time, your body is moving toward the end of your reproductive years.
It can start as early as your mid-30s or as late as your mid-50s. For some this transition lasts a short time, for others it can be as long as 4 to 8 years.
Symptoms vary across individuals but here’s some of the more common ones:
- Night sweats
- Erratic or heavy periods
- Brain fog
- Lack of libido
- Mood changes
- Hot flushes
- Vaginal dryness
- Recurrent urine infections
It can be tricky to pinpoint the cause behind these symptoms. After all, brain fog could be due to stress at work and hot flushes could be caused by an increase in weight. The best thing to do is book an appointment with a GP so they can get to the bottom of the cause and then plan treatment accordingly.
Managing Symptoms of the Perimenopause
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is one way of managing perimenopausal symptoms. This replaces the hormones your body stops making as your approach the menopause.
It’s typically taken as a tablet but if you’re not a fan of taking them then Oestrogen can be replaced through a patch or gel and Progesterone can be delivered via a coil.
HRT reduces the risk of various chronic conditions that can affect postmenopausal women, including:
- Diabetes – taking HRT around the time of menopause reduces a woman’s risk of developing diabetes later in life.
- Cardiovascular disease – HRT has been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease markers when used around the time of menopause.
- Osteoporosis – HRT prevents further bone density loss, preserving bone integrity and reducing the risk of fractures.
- Bowel cancer – HRT slightly reduces the risk of bowel cancer.
- Oestrogen-only HRT causes little or not change in the risk of breast cancer.
- HRT that contains oestrogen and progestogen may increase breast cancer risk.
- This risk may be higher if you take HRT for longer but falls again when you stop taking HRT.
- There is no increased risk of breast cancer for women under 50 using HRT.
The benefits of HRT are generally believed to outweigh the risks but your GP can help you choose the most suitable type for you.
Making positive changes in your lifestyle can lead to significant differences in your experience of the menopause. Here are some lifestyle changes to help you reduce the impact of your symptoms:
- Get plenty of rest, including keeping to regular sleep routines.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Have calcium-rich food like milk, yoghurt and kale to keep bones healthy.
- Exercise regularly, try including weight-bearing activities where your feet and legs support your weight like walking, running or dancing.
- Do relaxing things like yoga, Pilates, tai chi or meditation.
- Talk to other people going through the same thing, like family, friends or colleagues.
- Talk to a doctor before taking herbal supplements or complementary medicines.
If you are struggling with some of the symptoms we’ve mentioned, do get in touch to book an appointment so we can identify the cause and help you navigate this next chapter.