In my clinic, I frequently meet women who are unaware of what perimenopause and menopause truly entail. It surprises me how many women lack understanding about their own bodies and the ways to support themselves through these changes. The reality is that we rarely discuss these topics, resulting in a lack of support and guidance. This blog aims to provide information and support on navigating perimenopause and beyond. It’s important to remember that over 50% of the population experiences this unavoidable process, and it all begins with perimenopause.

One common concern I hear from women is how they feel in their own bodies. Many experience a lack of energy, poor sleep, and an overall sense of not feeling good. Strategies that used to work, such as losing weight to feel better, no longer have the same effect, leaving them at a loss for what to do. With the abundance of information available, it can be overwhelming for women who are searching for solutions to feel amazing again.
Perimenopause is the primary cause of these issues. It’s often mistaken for menopause, but technically, perimenopause encompasses all the symptoms leading into menopause. Menopause, on the other hand, is defined as the period of 12 consecutive months without a period. The majority of symptoms women experience occur during perimenopause. These commonly include hot flashes, insomnia or poor sleep, mood and emotional changes, weight gain (especially around the abdomen), decreased energy, brain fog, and achy joints, among others. These symptoms begin during the transition to menopause and may continue well beyond our last period. So, let’s discuss how we can support women going through this process.

The first step for women in any community is to open up and discuss their feelings and the changes occurring in their bodies. This includes conversations with friends, partners, families, and particularly with healthcare practitioners. Through open communication, we can ensure that we have a strong support network to help us navigate this time. Just as we encourage our children going through puberty by assuring them that things will get better and they’ll feel better soon, we should extend the same support and understanding to ourselves as women, mothers, and partners.

Perimenopause is the transitional period that occurs several years before menopause, characterised by the ovaries producing less estrogen. Menopause, on the other hand, is defined as not having had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. Both phases can bring several symptoms that significantly impact a woman’s quality of life. In this blog post, we will explore and elaborate on some common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, providing tips on managing them.

Hot Flashes and Night Sweats:

  1. Hot flashes are a common symptom experienced during perimenopause and menopause. They are described as sudden waves of warmth or heat that spread throughout the body, often accompanied by sweating and flushing. Night sweats are similar but occur during sleep, frequently interrupting rest.

    To manage hot flashes and night sweats, women can try the following:

    • Dress in layers and remove them as needed to regulate body temperature.
    • Sleep in a cool room or use a fan.
    • Avoid triggers such as spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine.
    • Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing and yoga.
    • Consult with a healthcare provider about hormone replacement therapy or alternative medicine options.

    Mood Changes:

  2. Perimenopause and menopause can cause mood changes, including irritability, depression, and anxiety. These changes may result from hormonal fluctuations as well as other factors like stress and lifestyle adjustments.

    To manage mood changes, women can try the following:

    • Engage in regular exercise to improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety.
    • Practice stress-reduction techniques such as meditation and mindfulness.
    • Talk to a therapist or counselor who can provide support and guidance.
    • Consider hormone replacement therapy or alternative medicine approaches after consulting with a healthcare provider.
    • Vaginal Dryness:
  3. Vaginal dryness is a common symptom of perimenopause and menopause, which can cause discomfort and pain during sexual activity and increase the risk of vaginal infections.

    To manage vaginal dryness, women can try the following:

    • Use a water-based lubricant during sexual activity to enhance comfort and reduce friction.
    • Practice Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which can help improve vaginal tone and lubrication.
    • Talk to a healthcare provider about options such as vaginal estrogen therapy or alternative medicine approaches that can provide relief.
    • Sleep Problems:
  4. Sleep problems, including insomnia and sleep disturbances caused by night sweats, are common during perimenopause and menopause.

    To manage sleep problems, women can try the following:

    • Establish a regular sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at consistent times.
    • Create a comfortable sleep environment that is cool, quiet, and free from distractions.
    • Limit caffeine and alcohol intake, especially close to bedtime, as they can disrupt sleep.
    • Consider talking to a healthcare provider about hormone replacement therapy or alternative medicine options that can help improve sleep.

Self-care is crucial during the menopause transition and beyond. Staying active and engaging in regular exercise can benefit both physical and mental health. Exercise can help improve mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote healthy sleep. Additionally, many women find that exercise helps manage symptoms like hot flashes and mood swings.

In addition to exercise, maintaining a healthy diet is crucial during menopause. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can support overall health and may reduce the risk of certain conditions, such as heart disease and osteoporosis.

Managing stress is also important during menopause, as stress can exacerbate symptoms like hot flashes and mood changes. Incorporating stress-reducing practices like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation can help promote overall well-being and reduce stress levels.

Another essential aspect of self-care during menopause is maintaining social connections. Menopause can be a time of isolation and loneliness, but staying connected to friends and family can help reduce these feelings. Joining a support group or seeking out social activities and hobbies that bring fulfilment and joy can help women feel more connected and supported during this time.

In summary, perimenopause and menopause can cause a range of symptoms that can significantly impact a woman’s quality of life. However, there are several strategies that women can use to manage these symptoms. If you are experiencing symptoms of perimenopause or menopause, it’s important to reach out to a healthcare provider who specialises in women’s health. They can provide personalised guidance and recommend appropriate treatments or interventions to help you navigate this transitional phase with greater ease and well-being. Remember, you’re not alone, and support is available to help you thrive during this important stage of life.