Perimenopause is the gradual period of change leading into menopause. The ovaries’ production of estrogen slows down, making hormones fluctuate and causing physical changes like irregular and inconsistent periods, hot flashes, and heightened emotions. But knowing what to expect is half the battle. Here are a few things you can do to make getting through this phase of your life a little easier.
During perimenopause, your period may be shorter or longer, and heavier or lighter, than it was in the past. You may even skip a period altogether. Prepare yourself by having a few pads or tampons on hand at all times. Keeping some in your purse, in your car and at work would be a great idea.
Keep a Calendar
By recording the length and flow of your menstrual cycle, as well as your signs and symptoms, for several months, you'll gain a better understanding of the changes occurring during this time. You’ll also have valuable information to discuss with your doctor.
See Your Doctor
Because we're always learning more about treatment options and hormone therapy, it can be confusing to figure out how to best manage your perimenopausal symptoms. It is important to have a doctor you trust, so you can talk openly about your concerns and treatment options. Talk about your symptoms and whether they bother you. Bring along the calendar you’ve been keeping. Using this information, you and your doctor can work together to make your time of change a little easier on you.
Make Small Changes
Making a few tweaks to your daily routine may help alleviate your symptoms and keep you healthier in the long run.
- Good Nutrition
Because your risk of osteoporosis and heart disease increases during perimenopause, a healthy diet is more important than ever. Adopt a low-fat, high-fiber diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Add calcium-rich foods or take a calcium supplement. Avoid alcohol or caffeine, which can trigger hot flashes. If you smoke, try to quit.
- Regular Exercise
Regular physical activity helps keep your weight down, improves your sleep, strengthens your bones, and elevates your mood. Try to exercise for 30 minutes or more on most days of the week.
- Stress Reduction
Practiced regularly, stress reduction techniques such as meditation or yoga can help you relax and tolerate your symptoms more easily.
- Keep Cool
Some women find hot flashes to be the hardest part of perimenopause. They happen at random, sometimes in very public places and at the very worst times. But there are things you can do to lessen their frequency and severity.
- Avoid Triggers
If you’re keeping a calendar, you may start to notice that your hot flashes always occur when you drink alcohol or eat spicy foods. Knowing what these triggers are and avoiding them may help reduce the number of hot flashes you experience.
- Sleep in a Cool Room
Night sweats are hot flashes that occur while you sleep. To avoid them, try using a fan. Or use sheets and pajamas that let your skin breathe. If you’re napping during the day, close the blinds to keep out the sun’s heat. And keep a cold, refreshing drink on the nightstand, just in case.
- Dress in Layers
When a hot flash hits, being able to remove a jacket or a T-shirt can help immensely.Once you’re past menopause, the frequency of hot flashes should diminish, and they usually disappear within a few years.