Are you in your late 30s or early 40s?
Maybe those years are close, or maybe you can remember what they were like…
I'm 43 — too young for menopause! But that doesn't mean that the estrogen in my body isn't changing its tune.
Most medical doctors don't mention perimenopause, but its symptoms can be more pronounced even than the symptoms associated with menopause!
What Is Perimenopause?
It is the stage of transition before menopause (the time a woman stops menstruating completely).
A couple years ago, I felt better than I ever had before. I'd gained a bit of healthy weight, my sex drive was the best ever, and I felt healthy and vibrant! My doctor noticed all of this and mentioned that my increased estrogen levels were due to 2 things.
First, the personal healing I'd achieved. Second, my age.
And ironically, perimenopause can bring estrogen crashes as well. The crashes may feel more like the symptoms we associate with menopause: hot flashes, urinary incontinence, headaches, and depression (source).
Another kind of perimenopause — easier to experience, yet less common — has symptoms that include a slow, gradual decline in estrogen, increasingly lighter periods, and only occasional, mild insomnia. Some women also experience a truly premature menopause. This is due either to surgery or health-related issues, such as an autoimmune condition.
What's Happening Emotionally?
Another surprise? Perimenopause can be the greatest new beginning in a woman's life.
We all know the triumphs of being young: getting to drive, getting married, having babies… Now, I've even witnessed the joy that being a grandmother brings to a woman's life. My mother's life has blossomed with her love for my children!
40 isn't spoken of as often. Yet an opera should be written in its honor — it's sexy and awesome to be 40!
This is the time in healthy woman's life when she has the opportunity to be proud of who she is, everything she's accomplished, and what she can do.
Speaking from personal experience, I am more confident — yet duly humbled, too — at 40. I feel wiser, I love my husband and my kids, and I enjoy the little moments. I can say “I'm sorry”. And I'm excited to hike to the top of most mountains, enjoying the sweat along the way!
All the issues that weren’t resolved during puberty and early adulthood—such as body image, relationships, vocation, fear of aging, and self-esteem issues—now arise once more to be healed and completed (source).
How about you?
I've painted a pretty picture, yet it may be more complicated. The decrease in some women's testosterone levels can also mean a lessened sex drive, a decreased sense of well-being, and less energy or ambition.
Yet, there's a ray of hope in supplementation!
How To Use Progesterone Safely
In all of this talk about estrogen, I skipped one little detail…
I've been supplementing with progesterone cream for years.
Progesterone balances estrogen! Right when our estrogen levels start spiking, progesterone levels start dropping. That's when we need it the most! While estrogen excites, we need a hormone to calm.
For some women, perimenopause and its accompanying estrogen spikes/crashes mean increased risk for heart disease, breast cancer, memory loss, arthritis, depression, thyroid issues, and bone loss.
The goal, then, is to prevent estrogen spikes and crashes.
Natural progesterone — also called bioidentical progesterone or micronized progesterone — is different than synthetic progesterone, which can cause side effects. Use topically or in pill form. Consult your practitioner for the use best suited to your body and to learn how to use progesterone safely. Leading naturopathic and functional doctors suggest 20 milligrams of progesterone before bed (source and source).
The cream (also available in pre-dosed packets) best absorbs through thin-skinned areas rich in capillaries, such as the face, neck, hands, upper chest, inner things, and inner arms. I use the cream only during the 2nd half of my cycle — the luteal phase.
Finally, why might we need this supplementation? Some speculate that insecticides and other petrochemicals have greatly reduced fertility and healthy hormones (source). Within 10 years of Israel banning insecticides, incidents of breast cancer improved by 50% (source).
By the age of 35, most women are not producing enough progesterone. Stress, poor diets, and inactivity also contribute (source).
Other Ways To Support Your Body's Changes
Reduce stress, cut out sugar, reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption, get good sleep (yes, 8 hours is ideal), and make time to relax or heal (source). You've heard these before, and they're true! What does your body need? Listen and respond accordingly.
To help your body produce more progesterone, consider increasing your Vitamin C intake to the recommended 750 milligrams daily (source).
Some doctors also recommend Vitex, or chaste tree, instead of progesterone cream. My doctor told me to stay on yam-based progesterone cream because it's been working for me for years. However, if you're interested, 500 to 1000 milligrams daily is recommended.
Why has perimenopause been so great for me? I started supplementing with progesterone cream in my mid to late 30s.
What do I have to look forward to now? A better menopause.
Experts say that a smooth perimenopause will likely transition to a less dramatic menopause. So, if you dread hot flashes and night sweats, look into balancing your hormones sooner rather than later!
What have your experiences been with perimenopause? I'd love to hear!
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