There’s a lot of information out there about natural ways to treat the symptoms of menopause, but nobody really talks about perimenopause, the years in a woman’s life leading up to menopause. In this article, I’ll give you ideas for a natural approach to hormone-balancing that can help regulate your menstrual cycle as well as provide relief of symptoms associated with hormone fluctuations. These are holistic ideas that will help you now as well as 5 years down the road when you enter menopause.
The physical changes of perimenopause are rooted in hormonal changes, particularly variations in the level of circulating estrogen. Signs that you’re entering perimenopause can be inconsistent. One month you’re feeling totally fine and the next you’re a raging lunatic before your period, which comes early, and you can’t sleep. The best way to know if you’re perimenopausal is through a hormone panel where your doctor will do a blood test and check your levels.
The most common experience during perimenopause are changes in the menstrual cycle. The length of the cycle sometimes changes or the amount of bleeding. Some women see spotting which wasn’t a thing before. Other symptoms include increased PMS symptoms, night sweats, hot flashes, trouble sleeping, weight gain, brain fog, anxiety and depression, and vaginal dryness. Pretty much any of the symptoms of menopause can start to show during perimenopause. My goal as a practitioner is to help women find balance naturally in these years so that when menopause rolls around, it will be a comfortable transition. So here we go, ladies…
Eat Your Phytoestrogens
These are foods that have estrogen balancing properties. Examples of phytoestrogens include quinoa, flaxseed, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and lentils. Isoflavones are a class of phytoestrogens that are particularly beneficial. The richest source of isoflavones come from soy (tempeh, tofu, miso, and edamame.) It is also found in chickpeas.
Ground Flax Seed
2 TBSP of ground flax seed a day can lead to fewer anovulatory cycles and a slightly longer luteal phase. In addition to helping normalize a menstrual cycle, flax seed is good for cardiovascular health and reducing inflammation. Flax seed is pretty mild in flavor so you can add it to all kinds of dishes. Adding it to oatmeal seems to be pretty popular.
We know that exercise helps with almost everything. It may play a roll in how we experience menopause as well. Although the results are inconclusive, some studies show that physically active women report fewer symptoms during menopause. We don’t know if BMI plays a part yet. Some studies suggest yes, while others suggest no. Physical activity is important either way, so move that body, girl!
Book An Acupuncture Appointment
Well, of course I was going to say that! I’ve seen a lot of women in my practice who are seeking treatment for hot flashes, brain fog, anxiety, insomnia; pretty much any of the symptoms associated with menopause, and acupuncture really helps. In fact, a study that came out at the beginning of the year showed that hot flashes, night sweats, sleep, and emotional symptoms significantly improved in women who received weekly acupuncture treatment for 6 weeks. The women I’ve seen who are perimenopausal start to see a much more regular menstrual cycle.
I use herbal formulas in my practice to address the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause. They can help a ton. I’ve saved quite a few ladies from maddening hot flashes and insomnia with them. Black cohosh and red clover are also popular supplements for treating menopause, and there are a bunch of other ones that women find helpful. Good quality herbs and the right dosage are important for experiencing results. You may want to consult a trained herbalist to make sure you’re getting what you need. If you live in Austin, the folks over at People’s Rx are super helpful for this.
I won’t lie to you. For most of us, symptoms of perimenopause are inevitable. It’s a part of life, just like when we hit puberty and had all those changes. Some of us will choose Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and some of us will want to go without medication. Either way, by implementing some of these tools now, you’ll have a smoother ride on your journey to becoming your next beautiful, wise, enlightened self!