Have you experienced uncomfortable, seemingly hormone-related issues since you entered your mid-thirties or early forties?
You may be moving towards perimenopause – the life stage that will lead you into the end of your reproductive years.
If you’re a woman in your mid-thirties, forties, or early fifties, you’ve probably heard about perimenopause. You may even have had a doctor or health-conscious friend tell you that the issues you complain of are signs that you’re entering the perimenopausal transition. While the term perimenopause technically describes the year or two surrounding the actual cessation of menstruation, a broader definition is needed by the thousands of women who are experiencing symptoms five or even ten years before menopause actually occurs – women who can’t attribute those symptoms to anything but shifts in hormone balance.
Some women find themselves gaining weight in their hips and thighs despite watching what what they eat more and more carefully. They wonder whether it’s just their metabolism slowing down, or if there’s something more going on. Others suffer from fatigue that makes it hard to get up in the morning, and causes them to crave “pick-me-ups” loaded with caffeine and sugar.
Painful, extremely heavy, or extremely light periods are other common perimenopause symptoms. Many perimenopausal women complain of lumpy, tender breasts, PMS, or uterine fibroids. Infertility can be a result of perimenopausal hormone changes, as can chronically cold hands and feet.
What’s going on here? Have women always had these issues in the years preceding menopause? Definitely not – and women who live in non-Westernized cultures, where food is not so plentiful and physical work is still part of everyday life, still don’t have symptoms of perimenopause. The natural process of menopause – the drop in estrogen and progesterone production by the ovaries that results in the halting of the menstrual cycle – is so gradual that it goes unnoticed in the vast majority of the world’s women. Women who live typically stressful Western lifestyles, complete with work, child-raising, and maintaining a home, are much more at risk for perimenopausal complaints like the ones described here. When these women go to their doctors for help, all too often they are given antidepressant drugs for the fatigue and stress; surgery, usually hysterectomy, for fibroids or severe menstrual problems; or prescription hormones (usually combinations of estrogen and synthetic progestins) that they are told will “balance” their out-of-whack hormone levels and fix their symptoms.
For most women suffering with perimenopause challenges, these treatments are unnecessary and potentially hazardous to their health. Learn more about the natural remedies offered on our site and simple lifestyle changes that have helped many women with troublesome perimenopause problems.
©Alternative Medicine Network 2009
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