Easing the pain of perimenopause
11th December 2019
Do you have perimenopause? It is important to be able to identify the symptoms of this condition if you are a woman approaching her 40s and are curious about symptoms such as hot flashes and other symptoms associated with menopause
How do I know I have perimenopause?
By the 40s, most women will begin to go through perimenopause which is a natural aging process. It is actually a transient condition to menopause called pre-menopause. This is the period of 2 to 10 years before your menstruation process halts, and your ovaries stop producing eggs for conception. Pre-menopause affects women between 35-50 years with an average span of 6 years.
The onset of this condition is an indication of the changes in your body towards menopause. Perimenopause is a prelude to menopause; it is nature’s way of adjusting our body gently as it ages. The estrogen level starts decreasing at some point in time for a woman; its decline momentum increases in the last two years of perimenopause. This stage starts even during the regular cycles and ends a year after the final menstruation cycle. This condition does not only encompass the period of years prior to menopause, but it is also extended to the first year after your last menstruation. This is nature’s way to signal the onset of the end of your body’s reproduction capability as part of the aging process.
One of the many symptoms of this condition is that affected women experience hot flashes, which can be alleviated with a temporary consumption of low dosages of contraceptive pills. Twenty-five percent of women in this condition have night sweats while twenty to thirty percent experience unusually heavy menstrual flows for a few cycles. Other changes that premenopausal women may experience include sleep interruptions, temperament swings, inability to determine the timing of menstruation flows, nausea, migraines which may be severe and recurrent, weight changes and heart palpitations. Osteoporosis tends to set in at the onset of these irregular menstrual cycles. The last year of pre-menopause begins from the last menstruation experienced for 12 months. Besides the mentioned changes due to the decreasing and inconsistent estrogen production in the body, women at the perimenopausal stage also experience breast tenderness or pain, irregular menstruation cycles, dryness of skin and other discomforts or complications to health such as urinary tract infections and changes to hair texture and skin complexion. Hot flashes may pose a greater discomfort for some women as their sleep is disrupted causing increased fatigue while others react with changes in their mood.
The following lists Perimenopause’s main symptoms.
- Experiences hot flashes or flushes, cold sweats at nights, cold/warm and damp feeling.
- Fingernails become softer and tend to break or crack easily.
- Possible persistent ringing or noise in the ears.
- Feelings of anxiety or discomfort.
- Negative emotional feelings of fear, doom or dread.
- Problems in concentration and mental confusion leading to disorientation.
- Hair loss at various parts of the body or increased facial hair.
- Bouts of light-headedness or dizziness and vertigo.
- Poor digestion, flatulence, nausea and possible stomach discomfort.
- Sizzling sensation in the tongue or roof of the mouth, possible breath odour or a bad taste in the mouth.
- Extreme tingling sensations.
- Flakey and itchy skin.
- Aching muscles and tendons, sore joints.
- Problems with gum such as possible bleeding.
To treat perimenopause, try exercising, quit smoking with a medication such as Champix, rest more and have a regular sleep routine, cut down the amount of alcoholic beverage consumption, acquire the optimum weight and maintain it, consume multivitamin and calcium supplements, and last but not least, drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water daily.
What is perimenopause?
Perimenopause is a big word but thankfully it is not a disease or an illness. It just refers to that particular phase of life which women would normally experience. It would be wise if one is prepared for this natural process as those affected with this condition would have to cross the bridge when they come to it. Every woman will experience some perimenopausal signs, symptoms, intensities, and effects differently. It is the body’s imbalance of hormones that causes these symptoms which any woman should alleviate totally, if possible.
Treating the symptoms of perimenopause
One of the best ways to reduce the effects of this condition or its symptoms is by adopting a healthy lifestyle. This starts off with a balanced diet every day where you can reduce your intake of carbohydrates and increase your intake of good oils such as omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Vitamin supplements also work to your favor. Don’t forget your healthy dose of fresh fruits and green veggies. Physical workouts are good for the body as they encourage good blood circulation. Therefore, engage in a regular exercise routine. A simple morning walk will impact your body positively.
Irregular menstruation – There are many ways to handle this issue. You can take progestin or ibuprofen to relieve a heavy flow or consider therapy for hormone replacement. There are other choices of medication which are anti-inflammatory, and not steroid based (NSAIDs) such as Naproxen, or you can consider contraceptive pills and IUD. Any increasing amount of magnesium intake should be supervised by a doctor. There is a surgery option for those who want permanent removal of this condition, which is hysterectomy; surgical removal of the uterus. Alternatively, you can consider an endometrial ablation procedure that uses heat to destroy the uterine lining but a professional consultation should be done before you decide on either of these.
Sugar, caffeine and salt
Your intake of sugar, caffeine, and salt affects your irregular menstrual flow. Regular exercising will lessen menstrual pain. Some women consider acupuncture but a qualified acupuncturist is essential for this treatment. You can also use evening primrose or flaxseed oil to relieve the menstrual pain and to ease the tenderness in the breasts. You can also consult a naturopathic professional for the right mix of herbal remedies like Belladonna, sulfur and Natrum Mur.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
Hot flash and sweats symptoms – Hormone replacement therapy medication is one way to reduce hot flashes in women experiencing perimenopause, which should be performed with a doctor’s consent. Night sweats which also come with hot flashes can be relieved with a 400-800IU dose of Vitamin E or a progesterone cream which is nature-based. The latter can be purchased without a prescription. Another alternative to relieve hot flash and sweats is to use Gabapentin, which is commonly used to relieve migraines. Following are some popular HRT medications that can effectively treat menopause.
- Evorel is an Oestrogen-only HRT medication that treats menopause.
- Elleste Solo is an oestrogen-only medication which relieves menopause symptoms and is suitable for women who have had a hysterectomy.
- Premarin is an effective menopause treatment that can also treat osteoporosis.
Other methods of relief include black cohosh and taking more soy-based foods like tofu, soy milk, soybeans, and miso. Exercising also helps to relieve these symptoms but it is not recommended a couple of hours before bedtime. Moreover, let your skin breathe better with cotton clothing.
Temperament change and Depression – These symptoms are set off by stress stemming from work and social factors. Occupy yourself with hobbies and light activities to prevent stress. You can consider some anti-depressant medication such as Amitriptyline if necessary, or stress-relieving supplements such as magnesium, vitamin B complex or St John’s Wort.
Consult your doctor
Consult a doctor if you are unable to get relief from these symptoms. Check out the risks and benefits of any medication before usage. You have the final say on how you want relief from perimenopause.