12 Steps to Take Charge of Perimenopause
This is the second post in a series about menopause. Read the first post, Empowered Menopause: Rebirth Yourself.
This is to help you prepare for a smooth and empowered perimenopause and menopause, while in your late 30s and 40s. Many women are concerned about how they will feel, and what symptoms are in store…
The truth about symptoms
- They are not a given. They are only potential.
- There are safe and natural ways to prevent and help them!
- Many cultures view menopause in a positive light, and women have few or no symptoms. This speaks to the power of your mind.
- In traditional medical systems, perimenopause symptoms are not considered normal. They are a clue that there is an underlying disharmony that you can address.
Let’s get to the good stuff. These are my top 12 ways to prepare for perimenopause before it starts, or as soon as you feel any symptoms or cycle changes.
1. Take charge of your thinking
Stay off the Internet and don’t Google your symptoms. If you want to read more about menopause, get one of Christina Northrup’s books, or other pieces that are written from a woman-centric, feminist point of view. Otherwise, you will probably just get dreadful symptom lists and products marketed to cure you. In essence, you are in charge of your perspective, and only you can shape it.
2. Get your adrenals in order
This is first and foremost physical thing to do after you’ve adjusted your attitude. Why? When your ovaries produce fewer sex hormones, your adrenals secrete them instead. So, you want your adrenals to be healthy!
Assess your adrenals (think stress, blood sugar, energy, and sleep) with this quiz. You can also do an in-depth assessment of your adrenal function with the Dutch adrenal test. If you get problematic results on the quiz or the test, then make this your focus. Get ideas here about adrenals, stress, and sleep.
3. Balance your blood sugar and insulin
Blood sugar dysregulation drives perimenopause symptoms. Plus, at this time in life, it often gets harder to eat anything you want without gaining weight. This is due to natural metabolic changes, and it can also be a sign that you’ve drifted into blood sugar and insulin dysregulation. It’s easy to change with diet alone. Basic common sense applies here:
- Eat three times per day.
- Eat enough so you don’t need to snack.
- Go for 12 hours at night without eating.
- Eat a high-protein diet, with high-quality fats.
- Apply Carb Aware Eating.
Supplements can help, and some of my favorites include chromium, vanadium, and alpha lipoid acid.
4. Get rid of the bullshit
It’s time to strengthen your spine. If you haven’t developed healthy boundaries with other people by this time, make it a project to do so. You won’t regret it. If you find yourself irritated, annoyed, overwhelmed, or lying awake at night rehearsing events of the day, chances are that you:
- Have not developed healthy boundaries.
- Do too much.
- Put others needs first too often.
- Are not true to yourself.
Lose the shoulds from your life, and cultivate more wants.
5. Take care of your thyroid
Thyroid hormone imbalance is a driver of perimenopause symptoms, as well as commonly showing up for the first time during these years. Assess your thyroid on an annual basis and get help if it’s In trouble.. Make sure you have all the thyroid nutrients in your diet.
6. Resolve period problems
If you already have a history of period problems like pain, bloating, sore breasts, cramping, moodiness, excessive clotting, or PMS, it’s best to address these now. You may think these symptoms are par for the course, but really they signify hormone imbalance. Ironing these out in advance sets you up for a smoother perimenopause transition.
If this speaks to you, most of the things on this list will help significantly! You can also get outside help – an integrative or functional acupuncturist is a great choice. Acupuncture is very effective to normalize periods.
7. Grow good gut bugs
Your gut bacteria are essential in metabolizing your hormones, balancing your blood sugar, and regulating your mood. Dysbiosis is all too common and can involve an overgrowth of unwanted bugs, not enough beneficial protective bacteria, or both. You can get a lot of information about your gut microbiome from the GI Map functional stool test.
8. Move your body in a fun way, just the right amount
If you are not regularly moving, here are some tips:
- Do something fun that you enjoy. A new sport? Dance class?
- Move throughout your day, with walks on a work break, biking to work, dancing while cooking.
- If you’re an introvert, exercise is the perfect excuse to get some alone time.
- Extroverts, make it social – invite friends.
- If pain or injury prevents you from moving, run – don’t walk – to get help with rehab and a personal exercise plan.
- Video classes at home are great for busy women!
Careful not to overdo exercise if you have adrenal dysregulation! The key is to feel better after exercise, not worse.
9. Find a passion, or rediscover one
You are heading towards a ME time of your life, when you get to focus more on your SELF. What is your passion or pleasure? What have you stopped doing, or what have you always wanted to do?
Examples include writing, painting, ceramics, reading, art galleries, gardening, joining a board of directors, volunteering, political activism, a computer class . . . this is a naturally creative time of life, so go with it!
10. Get sexy
We all have sexuality. How (or where) is yours? If you feel out of touch with feeling sexual and vital, you are not alone. This is common for women in their late 30s and 40s, when we may multi-task, work, raise children, and have long-term relationships or troubled relationships.
Whether you have a partner or not, it’s still important and delicious to feel like the sexual being that you are. What elicits that for you? No judgment! It could be dancing, sexy music, a little weed or alcohol, watching your partner do laundry. dressing up, dressing down, admiring and loving up every part of your body in the mirror, and did I say dancing?
Whatever it is, find it and do it. And remember that Dr. Christina Northrup says that women have the best sex in their 60s and 70s!
11. Get your detox on!
Often premenopause symptoms are the result of exposures to environmental chemicals that act like bad estrogens in your body. These are called endocrine-disrupting chemicals or EDCs.
Your liver and GI tract do the work of mobilizing these EDCs out of your body. You can test your estrogen metabolism and detox function with the Dutch complete hormone test. You can also:
- Eat lots of vegetables, especially cruciferous veggies.
- Drink milk thistle and dandelion tea.
- Do a cleanse once or twice a year (or every season).
- Use a detox-based protein powder in a daily shake.
12. Test your progesterone
Typically, progesterone goes down long before estrogen. This causes a normal state of more estrogen relative to progesterone, or what we call “estrogen dominance.” Coupled with subpar estrogen clearance, this can cause perimenopause symptoms like wicked PMS, sore breasts, and heavy painful periods. Cysts, fibrous breasts, and uterine fibroids are also a sign of estrogen dominance.
You can test your progesterone through the Dutch complete hormone test as well a simple blood test, around menstrual cycle day 20. If it is low, then there are lots of ways to support it, my favorites include:
- Chaste Tree (aka Vitex), an herb that can support progesterone
- Oral progesterone drops, topical creams, or vaginal suppositories during your luteal phase
- Testing for adrenal dysregulation and fixing that (#2 above)
I welcome your comments and questions below,
Dancing while cooking is my favorite thing!
What’s your favorite music to do so?