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Perimenopause 101 and Holistic Ways to Manage It with Nutrition

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

Perimenopause is the time leading up to or transitional stage to menopause. It typically happens between the ages of 40-50, but sometimes sooner if there is an existing condition such as fibroids or endometriosis or with surgical intervention such as a full hysterectomy.


In this article, we'll explore:

What happens to the Menstrual Cycle

Hormone Fluctuations that are Occurring

Possible Symptoms you May Experience

How to Holistically Manage Perimenopause


What's Happening to my Period?

During this time, the menstrual cycle tends to get a little crazy. Some women experience the heaviest bleeding that they've ever had in their lives, which can be defeating and untimely. This is usually the biggest uncomfortable symptom I hear. Periods may start to occur closer together, become irregular, and may be heavier and longer than normal.


Hormone Fluctuations that are Occurring

During perimenopause, the ovaries do not ovulate as regularly and the production of progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone starts to decrease. This decrease typically starts around the mid-thirties.


Seeing that these are the hormones that keep us balanced, now that they've naturally decreased this will affect our mood, energy, sex drive, and more. We may start to then experience a few more changes including, depression, fatigue, vaginal dryness, heart palpitation, and mood swings. These symptoms can sometimes last for years.


This fluctuation paired with a predominantly sedentary lifestyle and nutrient-lacking diet sets the stage for more inflammation and will stir up underlying imbalances in the thyroid or previous conditions like fibroids or endometriosis.


However, it is possible to avoid most of these symptoms and experience some ease with perimenopause as it sets the stage


Symptoms you may experience

  • Irregular periods

  • How flashes and sleep problems

  • Mood changes

  • Vaginal and Bladder issues

  • Changes in cholesterol levels

  • Fertility struggles

  • Decreased libido

  • Vaginal dryness

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Headaches

  • Heavy Sweating

  • Frequent urination

  • PMS-like symptoms

Root Causes of Early Perimenopause or Menopause

  • ​Eating disorders or poor dietary habits

  • ​Surgical removal of the ovaries, usually as part of a hysterectomy

  • ​Extraordinarily intense exercise or physical training

  • Hypofunctioning adrenal glands

  • ​Ovarian disease

Holistic Ways to Manage Perimenopause

Nutrition

  • Increase your intake of plant foods such as legumes, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and other seeds as they contain hormone-balancing plant chemicals known as phytoestrogens.

  • Ground flaxseeds also contain phytoestrogens and have been shown in studies to reduce hot flashes. In one positive study, women consumed 40 grams of ground flaxseed daily.

  • Fermented soy foods such as tofu, miso, and tempeh can help reduce hot flashes.

  • Essential fatty acids protect the heart and promote smooth, radiant skin. Good sources are cold-water fish like salmon, cod, and tuna, as well as flaxseeds.

  • Vitamin E regulates estrogen production. Make sure to include cold-pressed nut and seed oils in your diet, perhaps as a dressing for a green salad.


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