HELP! I'm in perimenopause!
Wiry hairs on your chin? Plummeting sex drive and hair loss? You may be in perimenopause!
It’s safe to assume that as women we’ve all heard of menopause and based on common knowledge most of us expect to live relatively normal and hormonally balanced lives until that point.
Unfortunately, that’s not quite how it goes. Menopause doesn’t happen overnight. Starting around the age of 30-45 and lasting anywhere from a few months to an entire decade, your hormone levels begin to change, and your ovaries start producing fewer eggs as part of the transitional stage known as perimenopause.
It can be a confusing time for women – as hormones change, symptoms come and go, taking us on a hormonal rollercoaster ride like a pubescent teenager. A lot of us just don’t know where we are from one month to the other. To make matters worse, perimenopause is often misdiagnosed as depression by medical professionals and women under 40 are completely dismissed.
I was diagnosed with perimenopause at 44 and immediately offered HRT, without much consideration for my underactive thyroid which causes a lot of the same symptoms. While the idea and hormonal reality of your body preparing to stop ovulating and shifting into menopause may fill you with a sense of dread, there are many nutritional and lifestyle hacks that can help you maintain your energy, good spirits and overall sense of wellbeing.
What happens to my hormones during perimenopause?
During perimenopause, progesterone and oestrogen start to decline very slowly over several years.
Progesterone tends to decline gently, while oestrogen has a tendency to go up and down like a yo-yo, taking your emotions and physical state with it.
Irregular periods, mood swings, hot flashes, insomnia, depression, bloating and breast tenderness are all symptoms of perimenopause and can make your life feel difficult.
To make matters worse, your testosterone starts to drop too, leading to a decreased libido, fatigue, loss of muscle mass and fat gain.
Could my thyroid be to blame?
The symptoms of perimenopause and underactive thyroid are so similar, it’s a good idea to test your thyroid function. An easy way to test this at home is to take your temperature three hours after waking. If it’s below 36.1c, you may have an underactive thyroid and it’s worth investigating further with your doctor.
Omnos and Thriva both do great female sex hormone tests, which test for TSH, T3 and T4.
If your results come back with hypothyroidism, it may be a good idea to get treated with bioidentical thyroid hormones. By protecting your thyroid you can stave off perimenopause for a longer time. These tests will also give you greater insight into hormonal imbalances.
Davinia Taylor - managing the transition of perimenopause can be daunting but it's worth "grabbing it by the balls"
Natural solutions to rebalance your hormones – and your sanity
Just because perimenopause is a natural process doesn’t mean that you have to suffer. Through a combination of a healthy diet, supplementation and lifestyle, you can support your hormones and prevent them from negatively affecting your mental and physical health. It’s as simple as providing your body with the right vitamins and minerals, keeping active and engaging in self-care practices that nourish your body through the transition.
Maintain smooth skin, shiny hair and strong nails
During perimenopause, the decline of oestrogen and collagen begins to reflect unfavourably on your appearance in the form of wrinkles, dry skin, brittle nails and thinning hair.
Support your body’s natural collagen production and improve skin hydration and plumpness with our Bovine Collagen Peptides and GLOW – our skin, hair, and nail supplement, which contains Vitamin C, Zinc, Methylsulfonylmethane, and other incredible collagen supporting ingredients.
You can also boost your natural oestrogen by eating plenty of oestrogen-rich foods such as organic tofu, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, nuts, pulses and beans.
Crush cravings and prevent weight gain
For many women, the signs of perimenopause aren’t that obvious and can often be dismissed as something else – such as weight gain. But lower levels of oestrogen, insulin resistance, an increase in cortisol and a slower metabolism can all lead to increased cravings and carrying extra weight, specifically around your tummy (yes - the famous middle-aged spread!).
Perimenopausal and menopausal women are at an increased risk of insulin resistance, so reducing and limiting your sugar and refined carb intake as much as possible will help.
A protein-based diet, rich in good fats will mitigate symptoms often exacerbated by high carbohydrate (sugar) diets. Remember low-fat means high sugar! Follow The Glucose Goddess on Instagram for easy to understand tips for smoothing insulin spikes.
When you’re feeling peckish opt for my all-time favourite, crave-crushing and energising Phat Fuel Coffee with a teaspoon of MCT Keto Powder. It’s an absolute lifesaver!
Future-proof your heart, bones and joints with exercise
As your hormone levels change you might experience soreness and stiffness in your muscles and joints.
Exercise is a fundamental part of helping you manage symptoms of perimenopause and future-proofing your heart, bone and joint health. Regular exercise, even if it’s just a 15-minute walk per day can make a huge difference to your hormonal balance and sense of wellbeing.
Moreover, strength training only 2x per week builds muscle mass, bone density, confidence and overall feelings of bad-assery.
Jumpstart your energy and fight fatigue
Nearly 50% of perimenopausal women report physical and mental exhaustion. As if oestrogen loss, hot flashes and night sweats making sleep impossible aren’t bad enough, there’re also external factors like caring for kids, managing a career and social life that are adding to our state of exhaustion.
The ultimate fatigue-fighter is sleep itself and I swear by L-Theanine to help me de-stress, relax and get a good night’s rest so I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day.
When all else fails and I need a quick mental and energy boost for a meeting, long drive or an afternoon pick-me-up, I turn to POW energiser shots formulated with the best ingredients to banish fatigue, perimenopausal brain fog and give me that oomph.
Banish Brain Fog
Just the absolute worst! It's like someone has taken out your brain and replaced it with mushy cotton wool!
During peri-menopause a lot of women report increased issue with short term memory and word-finding difficulty.
Have you recently had a conversation like this? "oh, I know that actress, in that film, about thingymajig... you know!! The one in the 90's (or the 80's??), really good; what's-his-face was in it as well..."
You can think you are losing the plot! That's why I've formulated AH-HA to particularly target this issue. Taking AH-HA regularly can really help reduce the memory and word loss. I recommend at least 3 months to really see an effective change.
Take care of yourself
Although you may not like what perimenopause does your skin, hair and overall sense of well-being, if you make health your priority you’ll feel – and look – your best during this transitional phase.
It may feel like an uphill slog; but seriously - this can be a very traumatic time of life and you need to look after yourself. Make sure to eat a healthy diet, exercise, see your doctor regularly and be prepared to consider hormone replacement therapy when the time is right. I've put together a special offer for AH-HA and Calm so you can start beating the symptoms.