Perimenopause Tips From Our Sponsor Omega Alpha

March 21, 2021

What is perimenopause?

Perimenopause is the time period that surrounds the final years of a woman’s reproductive life. It begins with the first onset of menstrual irregularity and ends after one year of amenorrhea (absence of a menstrual period) has occurred, thereby defining the final menstrual period (FMP). There are two stages to the perimenopause or menopausal transition: the early transition, where cycles are mostly regular, with relatively few interruptions, and the late transition, where amenorrhea becomes more prolonged and lasts for at least 60 days, up to the FMP.1

Women start perimenopause at different ages. Some women may notice signs of progression toward menopause, such as menstrual irregularity, sometime in their 40s. Some women notice changes as early as their mid-30s. The level of estrogen — the main female hormone — in the body rises and falls unevenly during perimenopause. The menstrual cycles may lengthen or shorten, and women may begin having menstrual cycles in which the ovaries don’t release an egg (ovulate).2

Physical signs and symptoms of perimenopause

  • Irregular periods
  • Periods that are heavier or lighter than normal (irregular bleeding)
  • Hot flashes
  • Weight gain
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Breast tenderness
  • Mood changes
  • Poor quality of sleep

Hot flashes are considered to be one of the physical symptoms associated with perimenopause.

Lifestyle choices and perimenopause

Proper nutrition

Eating healthier foods including a diet with plenty of greens, fiber and healthy fats can help reduce inflammatory processes during the perimenopausal years.

Exercise

Getting regular exercise can help reduce weight gain and improve mood in women during the perimenopausal years.

Yoga can be very beneficial in helping women relax and enjoy the benefits of exercise.

Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep goes a long way. When the body is rested it will allow for healing to take place.

Natural supplementation

Appropriate supplementation (vitamins, minerals, herbals) can be extremely beneficial in reducing symptoms associated with the different stages of perimenopause.

Here are some things to keep in mind when looking for an effective natural supplement:

  • Ensure that scientific research has proven the ingredients to be reliable, gentle and effective.
  • Choose a supplement where all ingredients and formulations are tested to ensure there are no heavy metals, contaminants or other toxins. 
  • Make sure that there are ingredients that help control inflammation. 
  • Multi-ingredient formulas provide a synergistic combination of nutrients to support the different stages of perimenopause. 

Beneficial herbs for stress in perimenopausal women

Supporting the adrenal glands is very important during perimenopause. The adrenal glands are responsible for the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. If there is an excess or deficiency of this crucial hormone, the body can suffer from a variety of physical symptoms and could lead to more serious chronic disease states if not treated. Some of the important functions of cortisol include: the regulation of hormones, glucose metabolism, immune support, hormones and cardiovascular functions as well as regulating the body’s use of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Our ability to adapt to stress depends upon optimal function of the adrenal glands and regulation of cortisol secretion. The adrenal cortices secrete both male and female sex hormones (estrogens and androgens) and become the prime producers of estrogen and progesterone during the transitional years, when the ovaries become unproductive. 

Adaptogens help the body to adjust to and positively respond to stress by normalizing cortisol, decreasing fatigue, and improving cognition. Adaptogens contain other beneficial properties such as antioxidant, cardioprotective, immune, analgesic, and energy properties. Due to the normalizing effect of adaptogens, a combination of adaptogens may potentially be more beneficial in the reduction of the physical and psychological symptoms of chronic stress. In addition, adaptogens paired with other herbs or dietary supplements may also have a potentially synergistic effect, regarding stress relief.3

A beneficial combination would include:

  • North American Ginseng Root
  • Siberian Ginseng
  • Astragalus Root
  • Bellflower Root
  • Ashwagandha Root

Beneficial herbs for sleep in perimenopausal women

A substantial number of women experience sleep difficulties in the approach to menopause and beyond, with 26% experiencing severe symptoms that impact daytime functioning, qualifying them for a diagnosis of insomnia. Longitudinal population-based studies show that sleep difficulties are uniquely linked with menopausal stage and changes in follicle-stimulating hormone and estradiol, over and above the effects of age.4

An overabundance of stressors can build up and create anxiety, restlessness or nervous reactions which can lead to insomnia and irregular sleep patterns. Herbals can be beneficial for sleeping disorders such as insomnia, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. They can help with tenseness, restlessness and irritability with difficulty in falling asleep. Normally there are no signs of grogginess or side effects the next morning.

A beneficial combination would include:

  • Fleece flower stem
  • Arborvitae Seed
  • Jujube fruit
  • Valerian root
  • Passionflower herb
  • Silk tree flower

Beneficial herbs for hormone balancing in perimenopausal women

The stages of the menopause transition are classified by changes in menstrual bleeding, concomitant with changes in the pituitary gonadotropin follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). The menopause transition is characterized by wide variability in both FSH and estradiol in the blood.5

As women age, blood production may be low due to various physiological stressors.  Herbals can be used to help stimulate blood production, thus giving a boost in vitality or energy. They can help provide relief from symptoms of perimenopause such as hot flashes, low energy and hormone surges as well as being able to purify the blood and control inflammation through their antioxidant properties.

A beneficial combination would include:

  • Chinese Angelica root
  • Rehmannia root
  • White Peony root
  • Szechwan Lovage Rhizome

The importance of antioxidants for perimenopausal women

In excess, free radicals and oxidants give rise to a phenomenon known as oxidative stress; this is a harmful process that can negatively affect several cellular structures, such as membranes, lipids, proteins, lipoproteins, and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).6

Women in perimenopause are under increased oxidative stress and nutritional antioxidant supplementation may be an effective approach in improving perimenopausal symptoms.7

Antioxidants prevent free radical induced tissue damage by preventing the formation of radicals, scavenging them, or by promoting their decomposition.8

If you would like to experience firsthand what oxidation is all about, a good example would be to slice an apple and leave it on the counter for a few hours.  The browning of the apple is the result of oxidation.

Polyphenols modulate the endocrine system. Polyphenols such as (-)-epigallocatechin gallate found in green tea, significantly reduces food intake, bodyweight, glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride, and modulate blood levels of testosterone, estradiol, leptin, insulin, insulin-like growth factor I, and luteinizing hormone.9

Unfortunately taking just one type of antioxidant cannot protect the entire body from the many types of free radicals that occur in every organ in the body Research has shown that antioxidants work synergistically and are far more effective when a variety of antioxidants are ingested, not just isolated compounds.

A beneficial combination would include:

  • Grape Seed Extract
  • DL-alpha-Lipoic Acid
  • Grape Berry Extract
  • Green Tea Leaf Extract
  • Quercetin
  • Maritime Pine Bark
  • Bilberry Berry Extract
  • Hesperidin
  • Curcumin
  • Lutein
  • Lycopene

Natural supplements can be beneficial in reducing the symptoms associated with perimenopause.

Other supplements that can be helpful during the different stages of perimenopause include:

  • Multivitamin/mineral
  • Vitamin D
  • Essential Fatty Acids (Flaxseed Oil, Fish oil)
  • Calcium/Magnesium
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Valerian

The bottom line

Perimenopause is a normal part of the aging process. It is important that women educate themselves on possible symptoms in order to increase their awareness. Your integrative healthcare practitioner can work with you to ensure you have the best plan and support for your overall health.

JOANNE CARR, R.H.N., B.A., ESC.

For more information please visit: https://www.omegaalpha.ca/.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4834516/
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/perimenopause/symptoms-causes/syc-
    20354666
  3. Ajala TO. (2017). The Effects of Adaptogens on the Physical and Psychological Symptoms of Chronic Stress. Discovery: Georgia State Honors College Undergraduate Research Journal: Vol. 4, Article 2.
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5810528/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3984489/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5551541/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21926923/
  8. Young IS, Woodside JV. (2001). Antioxidants in health and disease. Journal of Clinical Pathology. 54(3):176-86.
  9. Kao YH, Hiipakka RA, Liao S. (2000). Modulation of endocrine systems and food intake by green tea epigallocatechin gallate. Endocrinology. 141(3):980-7.

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