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Peri-menopause ~ what your mother may not have told you.

Published November 11th, 2009 in Just for Women, Uncategorized

Peri-menopause ~ what your mother may not have told you.

By Tammera J. Karr, MSHN, CNC, CNW, CNH  2009©
Every year millions of women in their thirties and forties are given sleep aids, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications.

Every year millions of women in their thirties and forties are given sleep aids, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. For years we have known about health challenges for women going through menopause but little is discussed about the years before the “change”. Menopause in American culture is a dirty word for many women, our society whether intentional or not, does not see the changes in hormones and body structure as a freeing, or an arousing time in a women’s life. With this being the case for some the years before menopause (peri-menopause) may be wrought with indecision, stress, frustration, weight-gain, wrinkles and fear. Our ability to cope with stress, our self-esteem, multi-tasking or being aroused by our partner, may be distant memories, or just plain frustrating for us.

Peri-Menopause

So what is peri-menopause? This is the time in a woman’s reproductive years when her hormones begin stuttering. Changing hormone levels, particularly estrogens and progesterone, cause perimenopausal symptoms, and they continue for a year or two after menopause. . As ovulation becomes more erratic, the intervals between periods may be longer or shorter, your flow may be scanty to profuse, and you may skip some periods. Some women have mild perimenopausal symptoms. Others have severe symptoms that affect their sleep and daily lives

Symptoms

Changes in sexual function. During perimenopause, sexual arousal and desire may change. Most women, who had satisfactory sexual intimacy before perimenopause will continue to do so, some report that “better” is the word for this time in a women’s sexual life. When estrogens (the female body makes five estrogens) levels diminish, your vaginal tissues may lose lubrication and elasticity, making intercourse painful. Low estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels may also leave you more vulnerable to urinary or vaginal infections. Vaginal itching or dryness, causing discomfort during sexual activity, can be related to low testosterone levels as well as low progesterone. The the human body has hormone receptors everywhere and these hormones are heavily used by muscles, organs and the brain. In fact there are more hormone receptors in the brain than throughout the rest of the body accounting for why hormone shifts have such a profound effect on thought patterns and brain chemistry.

Mood changes. Some women experience mood swings, headaches, foggy brain, short term memory loss, increased frustration, anger, irritability or depression during perimenopause, but the cause of these symptoms may be sleep disruption and hormone shifts.

Sleep problems and hot flashes. Sleep problems are common with that sensation of “monkey brain”, you’re exhausted but just can’t shut off all those thoughts, or night sweats may wake you. About 65 to 75 percent of women experience hot flashes during perimenopause. Their intensity, duration and frequency vary.

Weight gain and Loss of bone. Weight gain is common as a woman’s estrogens become dominant in her body replacing hormones like progesterone and testosterone. When the balance of hormones is disrupted, insulin resistance increases raising the risks for type two diabetes and heart disease. Bone loss may increase during this time if a woman is not proactive about weight bearing exercise and the right forms of mineral supplementation.

Heart palpitations may be noticed for the first time in our forties, this is associated with declining progesterone levels. Progesterone IVs are used in emergency rooms for women with tachycardia complaints.

Cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Declining hormone levels may lead to unfavorable changes in your cholesterol levels, including an increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. At the same time, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol decreases in many women. Additionally blood pressure may begin increasing; this is due in part to the decline in progesterone which has a natural thinning effect on blood and is involved in regulating water retention.

Vaginal and bladder problems. Loss of tissue tone may contribute to urinary incontinence. HRT (synthetic hormone replacement – eg. Premarin™) therapies are known to increase urinary incontinence issues.

Salivary hormone testing allow health care providers to clearly see which hormones are low and to efficiently help the client manage their hormone levels; With the right information and pro-active healthcare providers working in partnership with you, these years can be more rewarding.  Look for a qualified bio-identical hormone practitioner in your area.

For years we have known about health challenges for women going through menopause but little is discussed about the years before the “change”. Menopause in American culture is a dirty word for many women, our society whether intentional or not, does not see the changes in hormones and body structure as a freeing, or an arousing time in a women’s life. With this being the case for some the years before menopause (peri-menopause) may be wrought with indecision, stress, frustration, weight-gain, wrinkles and fear. Our ability to cope with stress, our self-esteem, multi-tasking or being aroused by our partner, may be distant memories, or just plain frustrating for us.


Troubled by peri-menopause symptoms? Proper nutrition can help.

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