Perimenopause – a rocky road to menopause
What is perimenopause?
Perimenopause means ‘around menopause’ and refers to the time during which a women’s body makes a natural transition towards menopause, marking the end of her reproductive years. Perimenopause is also called the menopausal transition.
The level of oestrogen – the main female hormone – rises and falls during perimenopause, causing menstrual cycles to lengthen or shorten. Women may also begin having menstrual cycles in which their ovaries don't release an egg (ovulation). They may also experience menopause-like symptoms, such as hot flushes, sleep problems and vaginal dryness.
Who is affected by perimenopause?
Women start perimenopause at different ages. Some may notice signs of progression toward menopause – such as menstrual irregularity – some time in their 40s. However, some may notice changes as early as their mid-30s.
Once a woman has experienced 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period, they’ve officially reached menopause, and the perimenopause period ends.
8 signs and symptoms of perimenopause
Throughout the menopausal transition, changes in a woman’s body take place and she might experience the following:
- Irregular periods. As ovulation becomes more unpredictable, the length of time between periods may be longer or shorter, menstrual flow may be light to heavy, and some periods may be skipped.
- Hot flushes and sleep problems. Hot flushes of varying intensity and frequency are common during perimenopause. Sleep problems are often due to hot flushes or night sweats, but sometimes sleep becomes unpredictable even without them.
- Mood changes. Mood swings, irritability or depression may happen during perimenopause.
- Vaginal and bladder problems. When oestrogen levels diminish, vaginal tissues may lose lubrication and elasticity, making intercourse painful. Low oestrogen may also leave a woman more vulnerable to urinary or vaginal infections. Loss of muscle and tissue tone may contribute to urinary incontinence.
- Decreasing fertility. As ovulation becomes irregular, a woman’s ability to conceive decreases. However, as long as a woman is having periods, pregnancy is still possible.
- Changes in sexual function. During perimenopause, sexual arousal and desire may change. But if satisfactory sexual intimacy was in place before menopause, this will likely continue through perimenopause and beyond.
- Loss of bone density. With declining oestrogen levels, a woman starts to lose bone more quickly than it’s replaced, increasing the risk of osteoporosis – a disease that causes fragile bones.
- Changing cholesterol levels. Declining oestrogen levels may lead to unfavourable changes in blood cholesterol levels, including an increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – ‘bad’ cholesterol – that contributes to an increased risk of heart disease. At the same time, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol – ‘good’ cholesterol – decreases in many women as they age, which also increases the risk of heart disease.
Risk factors contributing to perimenopause
Menopause is a normal phase in life. Although not conclusive, evidence suggests that certain factors may make it more likely that a woman starts perimenopause at an earlier age, including:
- The onset of menopause occurs one to two years earlier in women who smoke than in women who don't.
- Family history. Women with a family history of early menopause may experience early menopause themselves.
- Cancer treatment. Treatment for cancer with chemotherapy or pelvic radiation therapy has been linked to early menopause.
- A hysterectomy that removes the uterus, but not the ovaries may cause menopause to occur earlier than average. Also, if only one ovary is removed, the remaining ovary might stop working sooner than expected.
Perimenopause does not mean the end of sex
Although hormonal changes associated with menopause can affect women’s sexual health, it is a myth to think all women experience a lack of libido and a decline in active sex at this stage of life – particularly if their menopause is naturally occurring and not as a result of a hysterectomy.
Hormones like oestrogen, testosterone and DHEA are believed to play an important role in sexual desire and responsiveness, affecting not just libido but also physical aspects. The most common perimenopausal symptoms are hot flushes and vaginal dryness, or vaginal shrinkage, causing discomfort during sex.
Changes in a women’s sexual health at menopause are caused by:
- Menstrual changes, including disrupted flow and uncertainty about when periods will occur.
- Discomfort because of vaginal dryness and sensitivity.
- Lower sex drive.
- Night sweats, which disrupt sleep, impair self-image and cause irritability.
- Emotional changes, which can affect a women’s outlook and leaving her feeling stressed and unattractive.
- Urinary tract infections and loss of bladder control.
- Weight gain.
6 ways herbal supplements can help with perimenopausal symptoms
Herbs generally take a little longer than Hormone Replacement Therapies to start working, but once they have built up in your system, the results can be very pleasing.
In her book In The Mood Again, Use The Power of Healthy Hormones to Reboot your Sex Life At Any Age, Dr. Genie James recommends waiting four to six weeks for levels to increase. It is good to remember this is a “gradual and gentle approach for rejuvenating your sexuality for life, not for a sexual sprint,” she says.
As an alternative to medications and hormone replacement therapies – which can have negative side effects –women are increasingly looking to herbal health products like Herbal Ignite for Women. Many years of herbal practice have shown that the herbs in Ignite for Women support women’s reproductive health effectively. It has a number of positive health outcomes, including:
- Helping to balance hormones.
- Reducing menopausal discomfort.
- Improving libido and sex drive.
- Enhancing sexual arousal and pleasure.
- Alleviating the side effects of the contraceptive pill.
- Improving mood and energy levels.
Herbal Ignite’s special formula has helped thousands of women with libido support and an improved sense of wellbeing, with minimal unwanted side effects. However, it’s important to note that herbal treatments like Herbal Ignite for Women do not work instantly, or even overnight. Like many herbal remedies, it’s ideal to continue with Ignite for Women for three months. This is to ensure the best results, even though most people notice benefits within the first couple of weeks.
Treatment of perimenopause
Some women seek medical attention for perimenopausal symptoms, but others either tolerate them or simply don't experience symptoms severe enough to need attention. Because symptoms may be subtle and appear gradually, a woman may not realise at first that they're all connected to the same thing – the rise and fall in the levels of oestrogen and progesterone, another key female hormone.
Many women get relief from hot flushes after taking low-dose birth control pills for a short time. Other options to control hot flushes include the birth control skin patch, a vaginal ring or progesterone injections. Antidepressant medications may help with mood swings.
Women with perimenopausal symptoms may also feel better if they do things to enhance their general wellbeing, such as:
- Stopping smoking.
- Getting more sleep.
- Drinking less alcohol.
- Getting to a healthy weight and staying there.
- Getting enough calcium in their diet.
How Herbal Ignite for Women helps support women’s health during perimenopause
Herbal Ignite for Women is an over-the-counter dietary supplement taken daily with food to support pre-menstrual tension and menopause and to restore hormone levels to a healthy balance. It also helps reduce stress levels and increase libido.
Herbal Ignite for Women contains four key ingredients:
- Damiana is the key fatigue and stress fighter in Herbal Ignite for Women. Known as the ‘ultimate feel-good herb’ for women, it combats fatigue, relaxes the body, reduces stress and anxiety, lifts mood and enhances sexual response. It also helps balance female hormone levels, control hot flushes and is especially renowned for its libido enhancing qualities.
- Dong Quai is known as ‘the women’s herb’ or ‘female ginseng’ because it is recognised in traditional Asian medicine as an excellent all-purpose women’s herb. It is used to calm nerves, relieve anxiety and mood swings, aid in the treatment of various skin conditions, promote youthfulness, reduce stress and is also considered effective in treating cancer. It also helps restore hormonal balance, improve menstrual regularity and relieves PMS and hot flushes.
- Tribulus Terrestris is a general tonic that supports sex drive, ovulation and reproductive health. It also balances hormone levels, boosts vitality and sense of wellbeing.
- Horny Goat Weed has been used in traditional medicine as an aphrodisiac to increase libido, improve sexual response and function and create a feeling of wellbeing during menopause. It has been used since ancient times to promote physical and mental energy. It stimulates libido by enhancing sexual response and orgasm, relieves symptoms associated with PMS and menopause, balances hormones, relieves stress and aids in the treatment of osteoporosis.
Horny Goat Weed contains a flavonoid called Icariin that assists to increase nitric oxide levels relaxing genital muscles in men and women, promoting erections and orgasms. It also influences the stress hormone cortisol to help relieve stress.
Herbal Ignite has been used successfully by thousands of men and women in New Zealand and Australia to help beat stress and fatigue, boost libido and sexual satisfaction. It is 100% natural and free of unpleasant side effects. It is made in New Zealand to the highest standards, with thorough testing and guarantees of no adulteration or undeclared ingredients.
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Disclaimer. This information is provided for general informational purposes only and does not substitute for the advice provided by your medical professional. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. Individual results may vary and are not guaranteed.