Hot under the collar, and feeling moody AF? You may be going through ‘the change’ and not even know it.
The good news is, the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, think fatigue, reduced libido and insomnia, can be easily managed. We grilled nutritionist Kirsty Jenkins from Pure Health Nutrition for everything women need to know to sail through this tricky time.
Kirsty how do hormones get thrown off around perimenopause?
Ovaries become less responsive to the pituitary gland that disrupts production and conversion of hormones and imbalances their circulation. Also, during this time, hormones rise and fall unevenly causing irregularities in the menstrual cycle.
How does gut health fluctuate and effect hormonal changes?
Gut health is dependent on the microbiome and is in constant fluctuation. The gut microbiome is largely responsible for oestrogen metabolism that it converts into an active form utilised in the body. It is easily influenced by many factors like environmental and hormonal changes. Poor gut health can cause an imbalance in hormone levels by disrupting the secretion of oestrogen. Most importantly for women, the gut microbiome plays a crucial role in regulating circulating oestrogen levels.
What is perimenopause and when does it start?
Perimenopause is the period before menopause (complete amenorrhoea) when women begin to experience symptoms as their egg numbers decrease. The age at which it begins varies between women and is different for everyone, but it commonly begins between 45-55 years of age and extends over a period of many years.
How do we know when perimenopause has started?
Every woman will experience perimenopause slightly differently but the most evident and common sign of onset of perimenopause is the irregularity and shortening of menstrual cycles.
What is happening to your hormones at that time?
Menopause causes drastic changes in hormones with oestrogen no longer produced, and a sharp decrease of testosterone and progesterone production.
Are there other symptoms associated with this hormonal transition?
Every woman is different, but the most common symptom include hot flushes, dizziness, palpitations, cold hands and feet, weight gain, sweating, memory loss, fatigue, reduced libido, insomnia and alterations to bowel.
Can supplements help?
Yes definitely. Drinking your daily nuut can provide beneficial amounts of macro and micronutrients that help manage hormonal changes and support optimal health.
What are the best foods to eat at this time?
For phytoestrogens stock up on tofu, edamame, tempeh, chickpeas, mung beans, alfalfa sprouts, ground Flaxseeds, sesame seeds, oats, barley, quinoa and sunflower seeds. Eat plenty of calcium-rich foods like green leafy vegetables and fish with bones, and limit your intake of caffeine, refined sugar and alcohol. They can severely disrupt hormone levels, gut health and rapidly decrease bone health.
How does protein contribute to levelling out hormones?
Protein contains amino acids which are the building blocks for production of hormones, especially oestrogen. Protein requirements increase with age, especially with women. It also helps with levelling out hormones through maintenance of a healthy gut microbiome.
What are the best options if you do hormone therapy? Natural or Medicine?
It largely depends on the individuals needs and changes on a case-by-case basis as everyone experiences menopause differently. Both have their place in the management of menopause, however, the course in which women choose to undergo will change between individuals. For this reason, it’s so important women are educated around both options and are aware of the benefits and risks.
Is there anything you wish more people understood about menopause?
It is a natural process of life and cannot be avoided. Symptoms can be managed and minimised, however the change in hormone levels is natural.
Ensuring optimal health during this time will greatly decrease the development of cardiovascular disease, obesity and osteoporosis.