Peri menopause may be a new term for you. It simply means the time “around" menopause. Peri menopause symptoms are caused by changing hormonal levels during the years that lead up to menopause. They may last as little as a few months or as long as ten years. Every woman is different. These differences may be related to nutrition, diet, exercise regimens, prescription medications or genetic factors. It may be that the ovaries gradually begin to produce less estrogen or estrogen levels may change suddenly from month to month. Much is unknown.
As early as their thirties, some women begin to experience changes in their menstrual periods. They may become heavier or irregular. Some women begin to experience premenstrual syndrome for the first time in their lives. Some doctors recognize these changes and refer to them as peri menopause symptoms, helping to educate women about what they can do to reduce symptoms. Other doctors leave it up to the women to educate themselves. And others suggest a variety of prescription drugs, which may or may not help.
To help regulate menstrual periods, thus relieving those types of peri menopause symptoms, some doctors recommend birth control pills. Women who take birth control pills may have less symptoms of shorter duration, but this is not always the case. Some women cannot and should not take birth control pills, because of the risks associated with them. Many women prefer not to take them, if they are not needed for contraceptive purposes. Birth control pills have known benefits and known risks. To learn more about them, a good website to visit is www.fwhc.org/birth-control/the pill.htm.
Worsening PMS symptoms may also be peri menopause symptoms. PMS symptoms vary greatly among women, from non-existent to severe. It may be helpful to keep a journal for a while, noting when symptoms like mood swings and breast tenderness appear. There are at least 100 different symptoms associated with PMS; thankfully most women do not experience them all. Women who take birth control pills do not experience PMS, because they do not ovulate, but may have similar symptoms related to varying hormone levels. Anti-depressants are commonly prescribed to relieve PMS and peri menopause symptoms, but may have side effects, including headache, drowsiness and *** dysfunction. Regular exercise is one of the best PMS relievers, but without proper nutrition, you may not have the energy for it. A good daily multi-vitamin in addition to a healthy diet that is low in salt, fat, sugar, alcohol and caffeine will help increase energy levels and reduce PMS symptoms.
Hot flashes and night sweats may be the most frustrating peri menopause symptoms. Antidepressants may increase night sweats in some women. These symptoms are directly related to changing estrogen levels. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was at one time considered a safe treatment for all of the symptoms of peri menopause and menopause, but research has shown that those women using HRT had an increased risk of heart disease, breast cancer, stroke and Alzheimer’s.
All peri menopause symptoms, including the ones mentioned here and others are believed to be related to decreased levels of estrogen. Birth control pills and hormone replacement therapies contain synthetic estrogens, thus relieving symptoms, but increasing risks associated with synthetic hormones. Certain plant components have estrogen like effects. These components are referred to as phytoestrogens. Found in plant foods like soy and herbs like black cohosh, phytoestrogens can help relieve PMS and peri menopause symptoms, naturally without side effects.
Insomnia and other sleep disturbances are sometimes experienced in women during peri menopause. Night sweats are sometimes a major sleep disruption, but many women find that a full night’s sleep is just not possible. If you have a doctor that readily writes prescriptions and you tell him about all of your different symptoms, you may end up taking sleep aids, antidepressants and a variety of other drugs. I have known many women who were taking six or seven different prescription medications during peri menopause and still had problems.
Serotonin is one of the compounds circulating in the blood stream believed to regulate sleep and mood. It is regularly sold as a natural sleep aid, but precursors (those substances that the body uses to create serotonin) are more effective and safer for long term use. Tryptophan was heavily marketed at one time, but also had safety issues. 5-HTP is the newest alternative.
Derived from an African plant, 5-HTP is a serotonin precursor that in studies has been shown to act like a prescription antidepressant, without the side effects. It is recommended for use by women with PMS and peri menopause symptoms for many reasons. It promotes healthy natural sleep, without causing grogginess. It improves mood, without the side effects associated with prescription drugs or other herbal remedies. Studies have shown its effectiveness for migraine treatment. Women, who experienced migraines during puberty, often see them reappear during peri menopause .
To learn more about 5-HTP and other natural remedies for menopause, peri menopause and PMS, please visit http://www.menopause-and-pms-guide.com .
Patsy Hamilton has more than twenty years experience in health care and more than 40 years experience as a woman. Currently she writes informational articles for the Menopause and PMS Guide. Read more here .