Perimenopause Symptoms and a Natural Approach by Amanda Patchett, FNP-C
When women reach a certain age, hormonal shifts will start to occur, which is expected with aging. However, it’s important to be aware of these symptoms as they can start long before true menopause occurs. By definition, menopause is the absence of a menstrual cycle for 12 consecutive months. The term perimenopause is considered the time prior to menopause. The length of perimenopause greatly varies and is influenced by many factors. Typically, it starts in a woman’s mid- 40s and in some cases lasts many years.
The most common symptoms of perimenopause include irregular menstrual cycles, breakthrough bleeding (or bleeding in between cycles), hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia or changes in sleep quality, gradual weight gain (most commonly in the abdominal area), vaginal dryness, thinning hair, or changes in libido. Some may also experience changes in their mood that may also include depression, irritability, and/or anxiety, headaches, and shifts in overall sense of well-being.
The reason these symptoms occur is shifts primarily in estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone as the ovaries start to be sluggish or fail. Conventionally, it is often times recommended to take synthetic hormone replacements and treat the other symptoms with sleeping pills, antidepressants, ect Unfortunately, often times the symptoms aren’t completely improved and with these medications come side effects.
With a functional medicine approach, it’s important to assess hormone levels not just limited to estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. We have to think beyond those typical hormones and assess adrenal and thyroid function, as these can also play a role in hormone balance. Depending on those results, treatments may include natural hormone replacement, diet recommendations, and certain supplements including herbal therapy to help support and balance hormones naturally.
Perimenopausal symptoms aren’t something you have to suffer through and there are many natural approaches to help reduce or eliminate undesirable symptoms. We would love to help!
-Amanda Patchett, FNP-C