Entering perimenopause can start off feeling a little vague; your cycle may change—perhaps it’s shorter, longer, irregular, or the flow alters. You may start to notice you’re having trouble sleeping, there are new (or additional) anxious feelings in the lead up to a bleed, there’s some heat coming from inside you, especially at night, there may be unexplained weight gain or sore breasts. At this stage many women wonder to themselves, “am I in it…or could it be something else?”
If you’re noticing changes to your cycle and you’re in your forties or early fifties (although for some women, perimenopause begins in their late thirties), chances are you’ve commenced your perimenopausal journey. As you progress, the body tends to go one of two ways—a nice smooth transition to menopause where your cycle gently fades away OR a swell of hormonal surges that leave you wondering which way is up and where on earth your old self went. This journey can last anywhere from one to 12 years.
If you’re in the latter camp, don’t despair. There are steps you can take to ease your suffering through this transition.
The two best things you can do to support yourself through perimenopause are:
- Support your nervous system and endocrine system (related to stress hormone output)
- Really care for your liver
And here’s why:
Your nervous and endocrine systems drive your stress response and your adrenals take the brunt of this load. As well as producing your stress hormones, your adrenals will eventually end up taking over production of your sex hormones when the ovaries cease to produce them – a process that begins across the perimenopause years. So, by the time you’re through to post-menopause, sex hormone production will be all on the shoulders of your adrenals.
Once your hormones have done their job, your liver prepares them for elimination. Part of the seemingly “randomness” of perimenopausal symptoms is due to the fluctuations in hormone levels – surges and plummets. An efficiently functioning liver is better able to support their elimination, minimising their recycling, and reducing your susceptibility to these fluctuations.
How do you do this?
- Restorative practises such as meditation, breathwork, restorative yoga and Stillness Through Movement which help to activate the calm arm of the nervous system, decreasing stress hormone output.
- Explore your perception of pressure and urgency. Keep the “life or death” urgency for when it really matters, rather than everyday tasks.
- Amp up your intake of green leafy vegetables. The body relies on nourishment to fuel the billions of biochemical processes in the body and the micronutrients and phytochemicals in vegetables can make an immense difference to our hormone balance.