It’s Not All In Your Head

**I am not a health professional and this is not meant to be medical advice. I’m just a regular woman in her 50’s sharing what I’ve learned and what’s worked for me. I hope you find it helpful**

Every woman on the planet, if she lives long enough, will enter perimenopause & menopause. I wanted to write this series because I was blown away with how difficult it was to get accurate information when I needed it. I was also floored to find out that many health professionals were basing care on long outdated and flawed studies.This is an important time for a woman and her health. We need this information.

All the products mentioned are linked at the bottom of this post and for convenience they will also be in my Amazon Storefront.

Perimenopause & Menopause
**Fresh Air and False Lashes partners with affiliate platforms where , at no cost to you, commission may be earned based on clicks and purchases.

Perimenopause refers to the years preceding menopause. Women can begin experiencing perimenopausal symptoms as early as their 30’s. It’s when the amount of estrogen (and progesterone) generated by our ovaries begins to unpredictably decline.

There is no blood test to diagnose perimenopause, because the fluctuations in estrogen occur daily. Doctors diagnose by ruling out other causes and by listening to a patients symptoms. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s all in your head. It’s not.

You have THOUSANDS of estrogen receptors throughout your body- as levels begin to decline…..there’s obviously going to be an effect. And it’s not just about reproduction- you have estrogen receptors on the surface of cells in many tissues and organs, including the breasts, uterus, ovaries, brain, bones, heart, and skin. They’re all taking a hit!

Symptoms of Perimenopause

Obviously every woman’s experience will vary greatly. For me personally, in my 30’s and 40’s I had symptoms that would come and go and were aggravating more than debilitating. Changes in my cycle, occasional night sweats, some insomnia off and on and some occasional heart palpitations were really the only symptoms at that age. They were quite manageable for me with supplements. I took DIM and used progesterone cream and just got on w/ trying to live a healthy life. I worked out 5-6 days a week and ate a mostly paleo diet. It worked well for me at that time. My 50’s have been different and I’ll get to that.

Here are some of the more common symptoms of perimenopause:

  • Weight Gain- even though you haven’t changed anything.
  • Changes in cycle
  • Visceral/Belly fat
  • Heart palpitations
  • Low energy
  • Insomnia
  • Moodiness
  • Hair loss/change in hair
  • Hot flashes/ night sweats
  • Memory loss/ brain fog
  • Vaginal and bladder problems
  • Joint pain (“frozen shoulder”)
  • Low sex drive

Not a great list, huh? So……what can we do? Here’s the thing- suffering does not appeal to me. So, let’s begin the conversation on steps we can take to feel like ourselves again.

If your symptoms are debilitating or severe definitely seek out a functional medicine provider who understands women’s health or see your personal doctor who is up to date on women’s hormonal health. You should discuss your symptoms as well as answer questions about the rest of your lifestyle. If your symptoms are dismissed or you’re told that “this is just a part of a woman’s life”or the only option you’re given is anti-depressants…. find a new doctor. There are therapies, supplements and treatments that really can make you feel like yourself again (which we will get to).

There are also a lot of changes to your lifestyle that can really help you during perimenopause.

One of the reasons I think that so many women struggle during this time (I mean- they struggle because they’re hormone levels are fluctuating wildly!) is because this is a time in a woman’s life where she MUST look after herself- she has to make caring for her own body a priority. And a lot of times, we aren’t used to that.

It’s a time when you can’t be burning the candle at both ends and think that it’s going to help your symptoms. It takes a focused effort. And while perimenopause is a perfectly natural, unavoidable process in a womans life, suffering through it is optional. There are no rewards handed out for “suffering through” and every woman has to be informed and has to advocate and decide for herself what is best for her at that time.

I should say here that about 15% of women experience very mild symptoms and glide right through this time- we don’t know why that is- because women have cycles and that apparently makes them too difficult to use for proper scientific studies. 😑

Bitterly moving on, lol, there are basic, lifestyle changes that will help you no matter what. These are the things that your body and mind will thank you for. Things you’ll never regret and that can help your symptoms no matter where you are on the perimenopause & menopause journey. There’s nothing new here, but this is probably the best starting point for us all. Think of it like a Health Bank- every little deposit counts toward your overall health. Start small and keep going.

perimenopause & menopause

Lifestyle Changes in Perimenopause & Menopause

  • Nutrition– This is a big one. Nourishing your body with healthy, whole, anti-inflammatory foods is an incredibly powerful tool in perimenopause and in all of life. Fighting inflammation can help w/ weight gain, chronic illnesses (heart health and diabetes) and better sleep. An anti inflammatory diet is one that focuses on lean and/or grassfed proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy fats. Cut out the processed carbs, junk food and move all sugar to the “Special Occasions” category (The Paleo diet is one example on an anti inflammatory diet). It can be a tough change to make but the benefits you will reap will be off the charts! Start small, every little thing you do for your health counts.
  • Exercise– You knew this one was coming. Maintaining a healthy body weight will go a long way in controlling perimenopausal symptoms. If you are new to exercise just start with walking- your body will thank you. Ideally, we should aim for enough cardio to keep our hearts healthy, lifting weights to keep our muscles and bones strong and enough stretching (yoga, pilates etc) to keep mobility and balance. You don’t need to do it all at once, just start somewhere and keep going. (We’ll discuss the sudden appearance of visceral belly fat later.)
  • Sleep– This can be a tough one for sure. But doing things to prioritize good sleep is incredibly life giving. Once you hit your mid 40’s getting a restful night’s sleep is like some sort of powerful drug! You wake up feeling like a million bucks and then you remember this is what “normal” should feel like. This is going to look different for everyone but for me, I have to “plan” for sleep. A bedtime routine that includes shutting down screens an hour before bed, low light, chamomile tea, writing something w/ an actual pen, lol and taking magnesium at bedtime. I also find that spending time outside in the sunlight early in the morning tends to help sync my circadian rhythm. Maca & passion flower can also be helpful for quality sleep.
  • Stress Management– I know, right?!? I can see your eyes rolling. We can’t eliminate it, so we have to make the effort to manage it. I do quite a few different things to try to manage stress- and my life is super stressful at the moment! Aside from the previous 3 things on this list that will also help with stress management, I find prayer, yoga and meditation to be very effective tools for managing my stress. I also do a few self care things like long magnesium baths(helps w/sleep too) and laying in an infared blanket when it suits. I also find that just sitting with my thoughts and facing reality vs. what my mind can often conjure up is very helpful.

It really can’t be overstated how much these lifestyle changes will go toward your overall health as you age and that includes perimenopause and it’s symptoms. Start here if you haven’t already and next up we’ll discuss further help that is available to us.

Lifestyle Tools Perimenopause & Menopause

I find wearing my Garmin is super helpful because I can see in real time how I’m doing on exercise, sleep and stress management. It’s an incredible tool for keeping up with my progress as well as learning more about how my own body reacts to different things (I’ve had this one for almost 5 years!).

When I’m trying to get my nutrition dialed in, I use the Cronometer app. It’s amazing for getting a true snapshot of your entire nutritional picture- not just calories. It will drill down all the way to energy levels, nutrients, vitamins, etc. It’s extremely thorough and accurate so you can really see where you are and what changes you can make to reach your goals.

I also really like using a body composition scale. The one I have is not the most accurate (or the most expensive) but it still serves the purpose I need it for: it tracks my visceral body fat and muscle mass to help me KNOW that I’m going in the right direction. Even if the numbers aren’t as accurate as maybe this one or a Dexa body scan, it still tracks the overall direction and that’s really what I need.

If you want to dive right in to further information, hop over to Dr. Mary Claire Haver’s Instagram and begin your research. I’m also compiling and will be including a long list of resources to go along with this series that I hope you find helpful.

Products in this Post

Read Part 2 in this series here where we get into herb and supplement solutions that can be very helpful during perimenopause & menopause. There’s a lot to talk about and I don’t want to overwhelm all in one post. If you have anything specific you’d like for me to cover or anything you’d like to add please let me know in comments, email or Dm on Facebook. Thanks so much for reading!

You may also enjoy:

You can pin this post for later here:

perimenopause & menopause