Episode 48: 10 Things You Need to Know About Perimenopause
Today we are talking perimenopause, a stage in a woman’s life characterised by hormonal changes and various physical, mental and emotional symptoms.
Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause, a natural transition that every woman will experience.
Just because you may have been told everything is “normal” doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot going on!
During this time, your body will experience hormonal changes and symptoms that can be difficult to manage.
In this episode I talk about what you need to know about perimenopause, so you can make informed decisions and navigate this transition with confidence.
Now before you go running off and buying ALL the supplements or fighting your body to lose weight on another crazy diet, or looking for the magic bullet…
Here are the 10 things you need to know!
- What is Perimenopause
- Common signs and symptoms
- How to Manage Hot Flushes
- Benefits of moving your body (aka which exercise is best)
- What to EAT during perimenopause
- The importance of sleep and stress management
- Hormone Therapy options
- Treatment for mood swings
- Sex and changes to your libido during perimenopause
- Natural treatments
We hope you enjoy this conversation and gain valuable insight into perimenopause. Download your free copy of Signs and Symptoms of Peri + Menopause.
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Hello ladies and welcome back to the Hormone Hub. Today’s episode we are going to talk about 10 things every [00:01:00] woman needs to know about perimenopause because there is lots of confusion floating around there and, you know? So I just thought I would give you some of the things that you know might be going on with your body and also what we can do about it as well. So let’s sort of have a look at, you know, what is perimenopause? So first up, it is a time of life, it is a natural transition, we all go through it. Now, some women may sail all through, they may not even know, and then all of a sudden their periods stop and they are out the other side.
And that’s about 30% of us. Now, the rest of us will go through with some kind of symptom that we notice. So things will change and we won’t be able to sort of put our finger on exactly what, and it’s important to remember that perimenopause isn’t a, it’s not a, a diagnosable medical condition.
So there’s nothing wrong with us. And this is why a lot of [00:02:00] women, you know, go off to their doctors, you know, they’re told, have all the blood work done, they’re told that everything is normal. And it’s, it leaves a lot of women feeling really disheartened because you know, what is normal and why do I feel like this if everything’s normal, this isn’t my normal.
And, and you know, and I think, you know, the medical system in general does a, a huge disservice to, to women’s health. But you know, I just sort of wanna give you some things that you, you can sort of work with. And also too, it’s good to remember that medically they’re not given a huge amount of training on perimenopause.
And likewise, when I went through and did my qualifications, you know, I don’t even, I think perimenopause was maybe a couple of sentences. Menopause was maybe, you know, a five minute conversation, you know, it really wasn’t something that we focused on. So, you know, if you’ve been told that everything is normal, you know, take heart because you know we’ve got you. It, you know, it’s very common.[00:03:00]
So it’s, like I said, it’s a natural stage of life. Our hormones start to fluctuate and then drop, and this is the biggest hormonal change we’ve had since puberty. So, you know, there’s a lot going on. And what I wanna do is sort of give you as much information as I can so you can make informed decisions about your own health.
No one knows your body better than you do. And also to be able to navigate this transition with confidence as well. So some of the, the early symptoms that we might see. So number two, early symptoms might be, you know, hot flushes are, you know, what everyone talks about. And you know what we typically tend to associate with menopause, but for a lot of women, you know, it might start with fatigue.
Why am I so tired? You know, I just can’t get through the day, feel exhausted constantly. So that’s probably the first one. Weight gain is [00:04:00] another one, particularly, you know, if you’ve never really had weight around the middle before, you might not have changed anything in your diet, but yet you’re putting on weight.
Your clothes are tighter. You might have bloating that you’ve never had before. You might, you know, start to experience changes in your periods, so your cycle might become longer and lighter, you know, as in further apart, or they might become closer together and heavier, you know, and all of a sudden painful.
So there’s no sort of right or wrong, and no two women will go through this the same way, but just that, that change is, you know, this sign that things are starting to, to shift. Not sleeping is a big one in perimenopause, so this is where that insomnia starts to kick in. You know, women might be waking at two, three in the morning and be awake for a few hours.
Mood swings kick in about now. So, you know, there’s been quite a few conversations I’ve had about women wanting to [00:05:00] stab their partner in the eye with a fork, and, you know, things like that. Yelling at the kids, you know, going off at their bosses at work, you know, things like that. So things where they kind of like look back and go, that’s not me.
You know, why am I reacting to things that would never bother me before? But again, you know, these hormonal changes affect us mentally, physically, and emotionally. So it’s cut yourself some slack. You know, there’s, there’s a lot going on there.
So number three, let’s have a look at how do we manage hot flushes, because this is a big one.
And hot flushes, night sweats commonly, you know, sort of happen around this time of life as well. And, you know, these are probably two of the most uncomfortable symptoms of perimenopause. So what we wanna do is, you know, avoid the triggers. So cutting down on alcohol. So alcohol is a massive trigger for hot flushes.
It’s a massive trigger for insomnia as well. So we might [00:06:00] have a few glasses of wine thinking it’s gonna put us to sleep and it, it does initially, but you know, our body has to work hard to break it down so our body’s working all night. So, you know, it can wake us. Spicy foods is another one for some women. Caffeine, it can be a trigger for other women.
So what you can do here is dress in layers so you know, things that you can easily peel off. And likewise in at bed time if night sweats are a big issue for you, maybe switch out your beautiful, great big doona or your duvet for like layers of cotton blankets. So that way as your body heats up, you can peel off a few layers.
Using a fan can certainly help and, you know, as can air con in your bedroom at nighttime or you know, work. And at the time of recording it is February here in Queensland and it’s pretty disgusting to be honest. So I’m generally a fan of fresh air over aircon, but you know, [00:07:00] February, all rules out the window, right?
Okay. Number four is exercise during this stage of life. Now I am a huge advocate of moving your body. Alright? I don’t advocate any particular type of exercise, but what I want you to do, tune into your body. Is it leaving you feeling energized and excited and you know, refreshed, ready to, you know, jump, jump out of your skin?
Or are you doing a great big workout and you are feeling zonked? If you are feeling zonked, it is not the right exercise for you, you know? So find something, you know, and if you aren’t, if you can go and do high intensity exercise, go for a run, bootcamp, any of that, and you feel great afterwards and there’s no slumps during the day, keep going because that type of exercise is really good for you. If, however, that type of exercise, just the [00:08:00] thought of it leaves you feeling exhausted. It’s not right for you right now. So this is where yoga, Pilates, stretching, weight, training, any kind of, you know, exercise where you are moving your muscles is gonna be really beneficial for you.
Now the reason I think we need to keep, well, there’s lots of reasons we need to keep exercising, but it has huge benefits for us physically, mentally, and emotionally. So it helps, you know, boost our mood. It helps reduce stress and anxiety. It can help improve our sleep as well. So, you know, there’s so many benefits to moving over, you know, flogging yourself at the gym.
And number five is diet. Of course we’re gonna go here. I’m a nutritionist.
So we want to focus on real food, whole foods, so lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. This is gonna give us fiber, it’s gonna give us vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, polyphenols. You know, don’t underestimate the, [00:09:00] the power punch that vegetables and fruit can give us.
We want to make sure we’re getting lots of protein. Protein fills us up, it helps keep us full. It helps stabilize our blood sugar so we are not having those big energy crashes. So it’s gonna help support our mood, our energy, you know, to get us through the day and get us through the afternoon.
Healthy fats are good for transporting our hormones around our body and, you know, again, keeping us full for longer. So, you know, so getting, you know, the right sort of balance of whole foods. We don’t wanna go cutting out carbs, we don’t wanna go cutting out whole food groups because, you know, if we are under stress, we need, you know, carbohydrates to support our stress response.
We need carbohydrates at this point in, in our life to support our thyroid. So, you know, for my ladies, with any kind of thyroid things going on, you know, now is not the time to give up carbs. So if we think of carbs, you know, things out of a packet aren’t great. You [00:10:00] know, there’s a lot of difference between eating, you know, a potato and eating a bag of chips.
Huge difference. And, you know, think about what that potato can give us. So, you know, poor little potato. You’ve heard me talk about this before. It’s been vilified. It doesn’t need to be.
Okay, so yeah, so, so making sure that you are getting, you know, a balanced diet, you know, eliminating as much sugar as you can.
You know, all of those sort of extra, those packet foods that we just don’t need. Now, the next sort of thing about perimenopause that I want you to know, number six is sleep and stress management. Okay? So sleep disturbances. Stress levels can be high. And again, you know, it’s a busy time of life. You’ve heard me say this before, so we need to sort of be, have a good handle on, you know, are we managing our stress? Now we can’t, we can’t control what goes on around us, but we can control the way we respond. So yeah, having the tools to, to anchor that stress level to keep you calm, keep you grounded so you are not constantly in that fight or flight mode. Because the more time we spend in fight or flight mode, the more our [00:12:00] energy level’s gonna tank.
We are not gonna sleep. It’s gonna be impossible to lose weight. We’re gonna feel exhausted. You know, all of these things, our digestive system’s gonna jam up. So we need to get a better handle on the way we manage stress. Now reducing stress, particularly when we are sort of incorporating relaxation techniques, you know, when we’re incorporating exercise, it all sort of works on helping us get a better night’s sleep. So you can sort of see, sort of start to see how it’s all connected. So, you know, if we are less stressed, we’re gonna sleep better. If we’re sleeping better, we’ve got more energy. If we’ve got more energy, you know, we can do more exercise.
So, you know, if we’re, you know, doing all of these things because we’re eating properly, we’re fueling our body properly. So, you know, you can see how it’s all linked.
Now, HRT is my next point. So number seven and HRT is definitely a treatment option for perimenopause. Now what it does is, it involves taking [00:13:00] hormones. Now there, the HRT of today is very different to HRT of 20 years ago, and there’s a lot we can do. So, you know, there’s bioidentical or body identical hormones that we can take. So this comes in the form of estrogen and progesterone. And if you are still having a menstrual cycle, you need both, you know, and that’s okay.
And what I sort of recommend, cause I get asked all the time, you know, should I take HRT? Look, if it is impacting your day-to-day quality of life, and if you are already doing, you know, diet, lifestyle, stress management, if you have already got those pieces in place, you know, and it is still impacting your day-to-day quality of life, then HRT is a really good option. If you are burning the candle at both ends. If your diet, you know, leaves a bit to be desired, if you are relying on alcohol, you know, most might as your stress management tool, then you know, [00:14:00] HRT is not a golden bullet either. It’s not the magic bullet. So, you know, just be mindful.
You still need to support your body and you know, Eat well, move your body, manage your stress, be kind to yourself, ladies, all of these things for HRT to become effective. So, you know, it doesn’t have to be an either or, I think it really needs to be both, you know, for you to be well and feel well, it a hundred percent needs to be both.
Okay? So then number eight, we’re gonna have a look at mood swings. So mood swings can be, you know, rear their ugly head in perimenopause. And you know, a lot of women I speak to talk about, you know, the, you know, they don’t voice it, but they’d really like to, you know, stick a fork in the husband’s eye when they chew too loud and, you know, their kids drive them crazy and they’re very fast, to fly off the handle, things like that.
So [00:15:00] again, we wanna have a look at the lifestyle changes, you know, exercise, stress management. How do we put, how do you, how can you put boundaries in place? You know? So for these things that you know are bothering you now that never used to bother you before, you know, how can we get that in place so we can better respond to what’s going on.
So again, you know, if we’re eating the right foods, if our blood sugar is balanced, our moods are gonna be a lot more balanced. So, you know, it all comes back to getting that right balance of nutrition. Okay, number nine, sex during perimenopause. Alright, so there’s a lot going on here. We have changes in hormones, which can, you know, physically impact us.
So, you know, things get a bit drier. So, you know, vaginal dryness, vaginal atrophy, which is, you know, I hate that term, it’s [00:16:00] just ridiculous, can impact us, you know, pelvic floor, can be an issue. So, you know, there’s physical changes that’s going on. There’s also, you know, like the mental and emotional side, you know, we’re just exhausted.
So, you know, finding the right time, changing things up, making it fun, you know, there’s a lot, you know, supporting ourselves emotionally and feeling connected to our partner can go a really long way to, to improve libido for sure. And there are lots of things we can do. So a lot of the ladies that I work with, you know, particularly those who’ve been through menopause, you know, we, there’s products that I recommend.
There’s a lot of lubricants that you can use, you know, if pelvic floor is an issue, go and see a pelvic physio. They are amazing. Seriously. And also like having the conversation with your partner about how you feel and how you know things are changing for you and [00:17:00] talk to them about what your needs are, you know, because that can definitely help as well.
And number 10, natural remedies. So we’ve talked about lots of natural remedies like food, movement, stress management, you know, these are all natural and should a hundred percent be in your toolkit. Now I get asked about different supplements all the time, different, you know, things. To be honest I think I’ve said this before, save your money. If you, if something keeps popping up in your newsfeed, you know, like happy hormones or happy mammoth or, you know, there’s just so much crap that’s out on the marketplace, you know, again, a supplement is not going to be the magic bullet for you if you are not doing the diet and lifestyle changes, you know, it’s not gonna fix everything, you know. Sure. It might help for a couple of weeks, but it’s not gonna be a long-term solution. We need to have a look at, you know, getting those basics in place. There [00:18:00] are sort of treatments that can help. So, you know, I’ve had clients who’ve had great results with acupuncture for hot flushes, yoga as an all over, you know, de-stressing, and regular thing that you can do. Massage can help, you know, that inflammation, that joint pain, that muscle pain, maybe regular massage can be something. And again, that’s relaxing, that can be incorporated. So I hope this is helpful. I just wanted to give you a better understanding of perimenopause, the treatment options available.
And, you know, remember if you do need help, you are most welcome to reach out. We have, you know, the Well-Balanced Woman program is geared towards helping you make these lifestyle changes, the dietary changes, moving your body, the mindset changes, all of these things. So it’s, you know, doing it with where, wherever you are in perimenopause or menopause, We do it with you in a way, you know, we work with you where you’re [00:19:00] at, and we help you where you need it most.
So I hope this episode has been helpful and I will talk to you in the very next episode. Bye ladies.