What Are the Symptoms of Perimenopause?
What are the symptoms of Perimenopause? Suppose you are experiencing more frequent mood swings, elevated stress and anxiety levels, difficulty sleeping, and feeling warmer than usual. In that case, you may be experiencing the beginning stages of “perimenopause.” Doctors refer to Perimenopause as the “transition” to menopause, which is the end of a woman’s reproductive years and is marked by 12 consecutive months without a period. According to women’s health specialists at the Office on Women’s Health (OWH), this transition typically lasts two to eight years.
Perimenopause usually starts around the age of 40 but can start earlier. These changes affect ovarian function and hormone levels, which can be disorienting. The changes during Perimenopause can vary significantly from one woman to the next. In the beginning stages of Perimenopause, periods can still occur regularly. Because of this, it can be easy to ignore the increased episodes of anxiety, irritability, and crying spells.
However, add increased episodes of forgetfulness or memory loss, and it’s easy to begin to experience increased bouts of anxiety.
Perimenopause and Mental Health
During a woman’s 20s and 30s, it’s normal for hormone levels to fluctuate. Perimenopause primarily consists of estrogen and progesterone levels varying significantly. Testosterone is a “male” hormone produced (at lower levels) in women.
Hormonal fluctuations can trigger worsened PMS symptoms like breast tenderness, acne flare-ups, irregular periods, insomnia (typically in the two weeks before your period), hot flashes, and night sweats.
Are you also feeling extra stressed or easily overwhelmed? Depression, anxiety, irritability, and mood swings are common symptoms of estrogen fluctuations during Perimenopause.
Different areas of the brain contain other hormone receptors. The hormones attach to these sites and deliver “instructions” to the rest of the body through neurotransmitters.
Recent research has also linked estrogen and estrogen-signaling pathways to improved mood, mental clarity, and memory. Therefore, if estrogen levels drop, it makes sense that the processes that need estrogen to function will be negatively affected.
Is Poor Sleep a Symptom of Perimenopause?
A common indirect effect of poor estrogen balance is insufficient sleep. Estrogen deficiency can result in hypothalamic dysfunction. The hypothalamus is the body’s “thermostat” and can become overly sensitive to slight temperature changes. This gland’s “overreaction” can result in hot flashes and night sweats.
Nocturnal hyperhidrosis (night sweats) can often cause “fragmented” or interrupted sleep. Changes in sleep also cause a “domino effect” of inflammatory responses that can affect mental health. Functions disrupted include logical thinking, decision-making, emotions (e.g., anxiety, depression, anger, frustration), and memory.
Low levels of Progesterone can cause decreased production of the neurotransmitter GABA. GABA is known for its ability to reduce anxiety and insomnia.
Testosterone also plays significant roles beyond just sexual and reproductive health. Fluctuating Testosterone levels can cause also cause episodes of depression and irritability. Even low levels of “light to moderate” exercise (including strength training, yoga, and pilates) can help with the cognitive symptoms of Perimenopause.
Treat Symptoms of Perimenopause
Considering the above facts, Perimenopause isn’t the only reason for feeling anxious or over-tired. There can also be environmental reasons for mental health issues and difficulty sleeping.
Stresses from work, family, and finances are issues we all face and experience problems with. Chronic illnesses, poor diet, and alcohol and tobacco consumption can cause severe physical and mental health problems.
Pre-existing mental health concerns like depression, bipolar disorders, and OCD can worsen with even slight hormone imbalances. Research published in Frontiers in Global Women’s Health indicates that hormone dysfunction can worsen mental health symptoms. Try the following methods to learn the real cause of your issues.
Steps to Treat Symptoms of Perimenopause
Track Your Symptoms – Documenting your symptoms and the various things that exacerbate or relieve them allows you to reduce the severity and frequency of those problems.
“Tweak” Your Diet – The Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce hot flashes, depression, and cognitive issues. The Mediterranean Diet focuses on choosing specific types of foods instead of portion control. This simple change makes following the diet easier to follow. The Mediterranean diet consists of primarily eating vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, nuts, whole grains, and extra virgin olive oil. Protein sources come primarily from fish and dairy, with only small amounts of red meat and sugar.
Change Your Exercise Routine – Mild-to-moderate aerobic activities like walking and Tai Chi have been linked to increased brain volume and improved mental function. Adding strength or resistance training to your workout routine can also help reduce hot flashes and night sweats.
Avoid Hot Flash “Triggers” – Things that frequently worsen hot flashes include spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, tight clothing, and warmer temperatures. Dressing in layers makes cooling down easier and helps to have cool drinks available.
Get Enough Sleep – Establishing a set sleep schedule helps prevent hot flashes and improves sleep quality. If you’re prone to night sweats, sleeping with light pajamas or sleep garments, keeping a fan nearby, and using a “cooling” mattress topper can help.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) – BHRT has a long, safe, and successful history of treating all of the symptoms of Perimenoapuuse listed above. Supplementing falling hormone levels can relieve many different types of hormone-related health problems.
Convinced it’s Perimenopause?
Convinced your symptoms are from Perimenopause? A brief consultation and blood test with a BHRT specialist are still in your best interest. Thyroid abnormalities and side effects from common prescriptions can cause symptoms like Perimenopause.
If Perimenopause is causing your symptoms, it is the right time to look into BHRT. Bioidentical hormone replacement has safely and successfully been used to treat these symptoms in women for almost 100 years. Beginning this life-changing therapy starts with a simple blood test. Make an appointment with a BHRT specialist serving Arvada, Denver, and Wheat Ridge, Colorado.