gain, fatigue, irregular periods, PMS so severe that it scares the family — does any of that sound familiar?
These are just a few of the symptoms associated with perimenopause, the 10 years or so before a woman's period stops and true menopause begins. The average age for the cessation of menstruation is 52, so for most women in their 40s, perimenopause is a reality — often a distressing, confusing and uncomfortable reality.
There is much talk about the symptoms of menopause, but as women's health expert Lorna Vanderhaeghe suggested to RadioMD.com hosts Andrea Donsky and Lisa Davis, the symptoms of perimenopause are quite often much worse.
(You can listen to the entire show below:)
Women in perimenopause experience the highest rates of hysterectomy due to heavy periods, awful PMS, a return of acne, breast lumps, fibroids and other symptoms. Although these symptoms are challenging, Vanderhaeghe notes, "The great news is these symptoms are simple and easy to fix by using key nutrients that put those hormones back into balance quickly."
Read more about menopause
The key nutrients to help balance the distressing symptoms of perimenopause include:
d-Glucarate (Calcium d-Glucarate)
The uncomfortable symptoms of perimenopause are all a result of hormonal imbalance. During this phase, most women will experience a decrease in progesterone which inhibits ovulation. The months in which there is no ovulation are often very challenging: acne is no longer just a teenage reality and a woman's PMS can clear a room! The nutrients listed above help lower estrogen into the normal range, increase progesterone levels, and control testosterone. As Vanderhaeghe explained, "When estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are back in balance by using plant-based nutrients, then these symptoms just naturally disappear."
Vanderhaeghe indicated that the majority of women who take these nutrients in the 5-10 years before menopause can control the symptoms of perimenopause effectively and will likely experience virtually no symptoms of menopause. To avoid the stresses and symptoms of this natural change, it is important to get hormones under control early.
Most North American women have too much estrogen in their systems due to both stress and environmental influences. When under stress, the body secretes cortisol, a hormone that in turn tells the body to secrete estrogen. In combination with an environment full of estrogen-like chemicals known as xenoestrogens, it is no wonder so many women show signs of excess estrogen in the form of weight gain and many of the other symptoms of perimenopause.
Vanderhaeghe noted that the benefits of the four key nutrients are applicable to all women. She recommends that, ideally, they be taken throughout a woman's entire menstruating life, as these nutrients help stop "abnormal cell growths – things like ovarian cysts, and fibroids, uterine polyps and breast lumps – all the abnormal cell growths we tend to get in the 20s, 30s, and 40s as well."
Where do bioidentical hormones come into play in the perimenopause discussion?
According to Vanderhaeghe, about 80% of women can sail though hormonal issues by incorporating the four key nutrients mentioned above, following a healthy diet high in vegetables, particularly the cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale), reducing stress and other healthy lifestyle factors. However, despite following these recommendations, about 20% of women will need a low-dose natural bioidentical hormone. Vanderhaeghe was quick to indicate that bioidentical hormones must be approached with caution; they are still hormones– powerful messengers that can make things better or much worse.
Is there any fear about incorporating large amounts of cruciferous vegetables for those with thyroid issues? Often called goitrogens, many individuals with low thyroid function are told not to eat 'too much' of these vegetables. Vanderhaeghe highlights that the "too much" in this case is "so much." She suggests that if an individual ate "10 cups of raw broccoli every day for an entire year, it could have a negative effect on the thyroid." Note that this huge amount could negatively impact the thyroid– it is still not a guarantee. The cruciferous vegetables are valuable anti-cancer vegetables that stop healthy estrogen from converting into cancer-causing estrogen and should ideally be included in every woman's diet, despite any issues with the thyroid.
While the symptoms of perimenopause may seem frightening, following Lorna Vanderhaeghe's advice can help ease these symptoms, and in some cases make them a non-issue. A woman can easily save herself the pain and, as some have come to call it, torture, of life-cycle changes.
Enjoy this natural progression of life with the help of four key nutrients and a healthy diet and lifestyle.
For more information about Lorna Vanderhaeghe and the nutrients mentioned in this article, visit hormonehelp.com
Photo Credit: Rochelle, just rochelle