Do you keep hearing the term perimenopause? Are you wondering what the difference is between perimenopause and menopause? Maybe your cycles have started to change and you’re wondering whether you’re facing this new chapter?
Perimenopause describes the time leading up to menopause, typically within the decade or so before a woman stops menstruating. It is characterised by changing levels of hormones, additional hormonal fluctuation and then decline. Perimenopause is diagnosed based on age and symptoms rather than blood tests. Common symptoms include irregular menstrual cycles, shorter cycles, new onset of heavier periods, sleep changes and in some women premenstrual hot flashes and mood changes. The call for help often comes when these symptoms start to significantly impact a woman’s quality of life. The transition into true menopause is after twelve months of no menstrual cycle, which can take years. At this time the signs and symptoms usually begin to ease.
As a women’s health naturopath I am fortunate enough to share in the different life stages alongside many women. Perimenopause can be a challenging time and I am always humbled that I get to support women navigating this transition. Education around the impact that lifestyle and diet can play during this time as well as support with traditional herbal medicines is a large part of my role.
Herbal medicine can be a game changer around this time, helping to support and balance hormones and reduce the extreme fluctuations that many women experience. I find herbal medicine so beneficial during this time and I almost always recommend herbs to the women who come to see me. Herbs are also beneficial as they can be
used to support the nervous system to aid with anxiety and sleep disruption as well as digestion, weight management and detoxification which can be impacted in many cases.
A tailored approach to health is the best way that I can provide support. Some general tips include:
● Prioritising sleep – this is the perfect place to start. It’s important for women going through perimenopause to create good sleep habits and to aim for around 8 hours of sleep per night. This can mean going to bed earlier, reducing the amount of screen time and not having alcohol or caffeine. Good quality sleep is beneficial for hormonal health, mood, energy and stress levels. We all feel better when we are well-rested and able to cope with the demands of our day.
● Focussing on self-care – prioritising the things in your life that help reduce stress is so important at this time. Exercise and movement are key to help relieve stress as well as support healthy hormones. Regular exercise helps to promote healthy weight and detoxification and also helps you with your sleep.
● Ensuring you are eating enough of the right foods – this includes plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, whole foods and protein to ensure your blood sugar and hormones are balanced. As women transition into perimenopause, dietary requirements also change. Many women complain of unwanted weight gain around this time so revisiting dietary choices can be helpful in supporting these changes.
Helping women embrace this time in their lives and the changes it brings is an important part of my job. I love that perimenopause is becoming a bigger conversation topic and I hope that women feel more open to talking to others, as well as reaching out for professional support, when they need it.
Georgia Borowski is a Melbourne based Naturopath with over 17 years of experience.
After graduating in 2005 with a Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy) she has continued to expand on her education ever since. Georgia is passionate about women’s health through all stages. She sees women looking for support with hormonal concerns, supporting regular natural cycles, digestive concerns and skin health. She cherishes being able to support her patients through preconception care, pregnancy and post-natal care as well as the transitional stages of menopause. Georgia can be found at www.naturopathgeorgia.com.au if you have any questions.