Perimenopause or Menopause ? What stage am I at?
A question we get nearly everyday in the pharmacy by some of our customers.
How do we go about answering this question? Ideally, a blood test to check the hormonal levels will be a great start.
Peri menopause can start as early as early 30s however, this is really rare.
Symptoms can be subtle initially and vary from one person to the other. Not every woman will experience the same exact symptoms or all the symptoms.
Did you know there are 54 symptoms related to menopause?
Here are some of the most common ones;
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Mood swings
- Trouble sleeping
- Dry vagina
- Poor concentration and brain fog
- Poor memory
- Achy joints and tender muscles
- Weight gain/weight loss
- Facial hair
- Loss of hair/ hair thinning
The first signs of perimenopause will be lack of sleep, unexplained anxiety, weight creeping up, especially around the middle area of the body.
Feeling a little more stressed than the normal and resilience to stress.
The perimenopause is the period before a woman’s last menstrual cycle.
The vast majority of women begin to experience perimenopausal symptoms in their mid 40’s. This period can actually last 5 to 10 years.
Peri menopausal period is simply a hormonal roller coaster time!
With the hormone progesterone starting to decline and the hormone oestrogen is often still high or fluctuating. Eventually, oestrogen starts to decline too and the woman starts the menopause stage.
Symptoms can be very subtle and non-specific in perimenopause.
That’s why we blame life rather than hormones in most of the cases!
So what happens with hormones and why do women feel the way they feel?
The two hormones that they need to be in balance are Oestrogen and progesterone.
As a rule progesterone starts to decline first, that’s the perimenopause stage as mentioned earlier.
When progesterone drops the rest of the hormones go out of balance, oestrogen either stays still high or fluctuates but this this hormonal status creates something called oestrogen dominance (too much oestrogen compared to progesterone)
- Not able to shift excess weight( but that can also be linked to under active thyroid and it is good to the thyroid levels checked )
- Anxiety and not to be able to relax or switch off (progesterone is a pro relaxation hormone)
- Bloating (as progesterone is a diuretic ,so women may feel more bloated)
- PMS is getting worse
- Lumpy breasts, fibroids and cysts can develop
- Night sweats more than hot flushes during the day and sleep is disturbed.
I always recommend having the hormone levels fully tested either by a blood test or the Dutch test, which is a urine test. This will see if the progesterone is starting to decline and the levels of oestrogen and other hormones too.
Then menopause is fully established when the oestrogen levels are declining too.
Nowadays there is a lot of hormonal replacement therapy available and prescribed by the doctor. It is always recommended to speak to your doctor or pharmacist about the benefit of getting hormone replacement therapy for you.
One of the great benefits of using HRT is the prevention of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is very likely to occur when oestrogen levels start to decline.
As a pharmacist I always recommend supplements that will be of a benefit and definitely will support women in the different stages of menopause.
The ones that I would recommend are;
Magnesium is a very important mineral for well being in general
It is involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body,actually in every cell of the body. Many adults don’t get adequate daily amounts for optimal health, therefore there is a need to supplement. Magnesium is vital in supporting sleep especially when progesterone starts to decline.
Examples of products I would recommend is MAG 365 Powder and Magnesium bi glycinate (New Roots brand or Viridian)
The next 2 products are the go to for me to recommend;
- Menopeace (by New Roots) is a great product to support the female hormonal system ) it contains a food supplement consisting of a combination of 6 standardized, high quality plant extracts such as Dong quai, Chaste-tree ,Red clover , Dandelion , Black cohosh and Wild yam.
- Fermented Maca powder by New Roots ( an organic adaptogenic root extract that supports female health especially for Dry vagina and loss of libido )
I always recommend speaking to the doctor first to get blood tests done, we also provide testing in the pharmacy and the Dutch test.
And I discuss the results with the patients and refer them to their doctors or recommend the supplements if I think it will support their hormonal health.
Email myself, Ola, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about testing and supplement advice.