Written by Angela Ysseldyk CNP, BA
Welcome to part 2 of our life stages series - the transition from reproductive adulthood!
Welcome to perimenopause, the transition from the reproductive years to menopause!
This life stage can start 10-15 years before menopause. It may begin as early as age 35 and end as late as 59. Even when cycles remain regular, experiences change depending on the woman.1 Your journey is your own!
Leading up to menopause the body can experience peaks and valley in hormone levels. Because more eggs are “recruited” and stimulated each cycle, estrogen levels become higher and unpredictable for ovulation, if it does occur, could be associated with lower-than-normal progesterone levels. As a result, irregular cycles can occur. Also, lifestyle factors involved in irregular cycles are smoking, obesity, and stress, were significantly associated with menstrual cycle irregularity. So, supporting yourself with stress management, healthy weight, and nutrition and quitting smoking will take you a long way. Research also shows that lower plasma Vitamin D levels are also associated with irregular menstrual cycles.
Menopausal symptoms are highly prevalent in this stage, even before you are officially in menopause. This stage is where you really start to notice your health and symptoms. Sometimes, they become so difficult that almost 90% of women to seek out their healthcare provider for advice on how to cope.3 You may have to keep trying until you find the supportive health care team and groups you need along the way.
Perimenopause requires us to be even more resilient than we already are by coping with unpredictable flow, changing experiences, night sweats/hot flashes (for many) and sleep disruption (for most).1Since this stage may also be occurring in parallel with other aging factors as well such as loss of collagen, brain and eye health decline, and other parts of the aging process, it can be hard to determine the cause of your symptoms. Plus, as a bonus the peak years of perimenopause can occur in your mid 40s just when you also happen to be the busiest you have ever been in your life looking after your children, career and possibly aging parents!
These are some of the common signs of perimenopause:2
- Poor sleep
- Depressed mood
- Increased anxiety
- Longer bouts of missed periods
- Mild hot flashes: recent epidemiological evidence indicates that hot flashes are experienced by 30%–70% of premenopausal women 4 but likely to be mild in nature – these show up more in the next stage
- Vaginal dryness is reported to occur in about one-quarter to one-third women 5-7
- Weight gain1
- Flooding and irregular cycles1
Working with your health care practitioner team along with some lifestyle, nutrition and specific research backed ingredients is the best approach to support you on this journey.
Vitamins C & D, calcium, magnesium, and B vitamins are supportive nutrients to support the hormone shifts that occur during perimenopause. Consuming a solid amount of healthy fats and protein is also helpful.
During this life stage you may wish to consider Cyclesmart to regulate and support your cycle and Adrenasmart to help reduce the effects of stress (which are so common)!
Did You Know?
Hormonal imbalance is common.
Sometimes it feels like an estrogen storm! Leading up to menopause the body can experience peaks and valley in hormone levels of both estrogen and progesterone. Perimenopause requires us to be even more resilient than we already are by coping with unpredictable flow, changing experiences, night sweats/hot flashes (for many) and sleep disruption (for most).
Where do I start?
Start with self care and stress management. Consider working with an integrative health care practitioner who can support you with both hormone therapy, natural products, and stress relief.
Let’s take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate the life you have built for yourself and your family. Welcome to menopause!
Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 49 and 52.13Natural menopause is defined as the permanent cessation of menstruation while your ovaries take a much-needed retirement after years of stimulation. It means 12 consecutive months (or one year) with no period, for which there are no other obvious causes.12
This is a time that parallels many other life milestones and celebrations and hopefully more space to look after YOU.10A woman’s experience of menopause may be different than someone else’s depending on many factors. The experience can be affected by personal challenges and changes in personal roles within the family and society.11This is a time when you may feel vulnerable, so just like perimenopause it could be helpful to consider a personal and tailored healthcare team according to your individual needs, preferences, and expectations.
Hot flashes and night sweats are the strongest symptoms of those reported by women. Others include:14, 15
- Painful intercourse and vaginal dryness
- Urinary incontinence / urgency
- Breast pain
- Weight gain
- Interrupted sleep
- Joint soreness and stiffness
- Lower energy and stamina
- Skin changes
Pause – breathe – exhale. This really is a time for you. Some successful strategies include regularly exercising, learning and practicing relaxation/meditation/slow, deep yoga-type breathing, eating nutritionally balanced and (as much as possible) sleeping regularly.
Taking a multivitamin with minerals, healthy fats, calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and GLA create a great foundation to support the transition.
Hormonal changes during menopause can affect bone health and be a risk factor in developing osteoporosis. Vitamin D helps facilitate calcium’s absorption into the body. Magnesium helps keep calcium out of the soft tissues and in the bones where it is needed most.
Menosmart+ is a great option to help with hot flashes, and if you are experiencing more severe symptoms due to stress, Adrenasmart can step in to help give you even more support!
Did You Know?
Hot flashes are worse when we’re under stress, sleeping poorly, and overweight. Smokers experience menopause about 1 year before non smokers.16
How long does menopause last?
It typically lasts about 18 months to 2 years, although it is common for hot flashes to occur 4 – 10 years post menopause. 17-27
There are herbal and alternative therapies (including some conventional) that may improve hot flashes somewhat10along with lifestyle factor and an integrative approach with your doctor and alternative care practitioner. You want to set yourself up with a support network and know that you are not alone.11
Welcome to post menopause, the period of time after the menopause transition and the final menstrual period has occurred.36
As estrogen levels decline post menopause, a few health concerns can arise including greater risk for osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and stroke.37,38The need to support your body with additional nutrients increases to maintain a healthy, vibrant life post menopause. Nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D & K are shown to support building and maintenance of healthy bones.39Additional nutrient support of Omega 3 fatty acids and CoQ10 can help to maintain proper cardiovascular function.40
As bone density becomes a greater concern with age and due to lowering estrogen levels in the post menopause phase of life, supplements like Smart Solutions Bone booster and Smart Solutions Magsmart are especially helpful in supporting adequate calcium, magnesium and vitamin D levels in the body, help with calcium absorption and for the maintenance of healthy bones.40
Did You Know?
Hot flashes experienced during the menopause transition can continue for up to 10 years into the post menopause phase of life.40
However, this is also a time to CELEBRATE! At this life stage you have more life experience, and wisdom. Take time for yourself with a focus on self care.
Will I continue to have symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes, after menopause?
This depends! Symptoms post menopause vary greatly depending on the individual. Some women continue to experience symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes, even after menopause.
- The Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research (CeMCOR) ‘’Perimenopause” http://www.cemcor.ubc.ca/resources/life-phases/perimenopause Accessed 09/09/2020
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- Guthrie, J. R., Dennerstein, L., Taffe, J. R., & Donnelly, V. (2003). Health care-seeking for menopausal problems. Climacteric : the journal of the International Menopause Society, 6(2), 112–117.
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- Bae, J., Park, S. & Kwon, J. (2018) Factors associated with menstrual cycle irregularity and menopause. BMC Women's Health 18, 36. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12905-018-0528-x
- Jukic, A. M., Steiner, A. Z., & Baird, D. D. (2015). Lower plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D is associated with irregular menstrual cycles in a cross-sectional study. Reproductive biology and endocrinology : RB&E, 13, 20. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12958-015-0012-5
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- Accessed 09/10/2020
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