3 Perimenopause Symptoms That You’ll Know When You Get Them
tl;dr (1) really heavy periods (they call it "flooding" for a reason) (2) shorter cycles ("every two weeks?! for real?!) (3) high anxiety (hang on. it's gonna be a wild ride)
Perimenopause symptoms often don’t get the attention they need. They kinda sneak up on most women. In fact, most women have NOT been taught that perimenopause is a thing, that it's the first phase of menopause and that everyone woman will go through it. Let's fix that.
The reason why perimenopause symptoms sneak up on women is that they often show up as wonky periods.
Let’s talk perimenopause. And, perimenopause symptoms.
Simply put, perimenopause is when things start to go haywire - estrogen levels rise but are unpredictable and volatile and progesterone production wanes throwing everything off balance, which can cause symptoms.
SPOILER ALERT: in perimenopause, estrogen levels are on average higher than during the reproductive years. Yes, higher. Prevailing understanding is that menopause (and all its variations) equates to diminishing and/or very low estrogen. That is the case for early post- and later-post menopause. But not with perimenopause. And it’s worth repeating. In perimenopause, estrogen levels can get really high - not low. So, we have to keep this in mind when assessing perimenopause symptoms.
Perimenopause is often identified once symptoms arise. Currently there is no “perimenopause test”. So, we rely on women to pay attention and notices the changes.
The 3 most easily identified perimenopause symptoms are changes to the menstrual cycle and, of course, emotional volatility.
1️⃣ Heavier cycles (they call it “flooding” for a reason”. Commonly, the cycle will get heavier because estrogen (specifically estradiol) levels are increasing (and fluctuating. Remembering that estrogen triggers the building of the endometrium during the first half of the cycle, more estrogen means more building of the endometrium which means heavier flow. They don’t make it easy, do they?
2️⃣ Cycles get irregular (shorter) – commonly they get closer together. Even better, right? One hormone change is tied to this is lower progesterone production. Progesterone is produced during the second half of the cycle and helps regulate the cycle. Less progesterone shortens the cycle.
3️⃣ High (like really high) anxiety. You may think you’re going insane. You aren’t, really. From the emotional side, estrogen influences feelings of anxiety. And, research studies that looked at anxiety and estrogen levels are conflicting and point to quite a complex relationship between estrogen and anxiety because some mechanisms (i.e., certain receptors) increase anxiety and some decrease anxiety. Sometimes high levels of estrogen helped, sometimes low levels help. It’s pretty safe to say, it is the fluctuation of estrogen that causes problems. In perimenopause, estrogen levels are volatile so pay attention to increasing levels of anxiety.
What’s to do about perimenopause symptoms?
So, then what’s a woman to do?
One way to address heavy bleeding and anxiety is to get rid of excess estrogen. So, eat kale or brussel sprouts! Why? There’s a phytochemical in those types of veggies (I3C and DIM) that metabolize estrogen (you can also get these as a separate supplement). It is one of the key ingredients we use in our own supplement. (link here?)
For shorter periods, try Chasteberry which research shows helps to normalize cycle length.
➡️ Check out this convenient supplement. It has DIM both I3C and DIM!)
For period management, get some period underwear and always carry pads, tampons and extra undies.
For the emotional roller coaster, try slow, steady breathing through the nose. We created this audio track to take you through 12 rounds of breath. It's less than 3 mins and it will calm the nervous system.