Perimenopause is a phase of life that is somewhere in between.  Just when life is starting to be figured out with being secure in one’s career, the kids are either grown or on their way there or stability within one’s marital state this sneaky part of life sneaks up and one may feel as insecure as the neighborhood tween.  Perimenopause is the transition that begins 4 to 10 years before menopause.  It is a time when the ovaries make less estrogen and starts from a women’s late 30s to 50s.  It is the time that many women experience menopause symptoms but may feel confused as they continue to have the effects of being able to bear children, menstrual and hormonal fluxions in the meantime.  But take hope.  Even in this mixed up time in a female’s life, there is much you can do to ease, humor and enjoy this change of life.

First of all your periods suddenly change.  They can go from heavier or lighter and spotting in between menstrual cycles.  People who have regular cycles might go to more in-between.  Periods can also be shorter, more intense in shorter duration.   Other symptoms include the usual menopause hot flashes, insomnia, fatigue, and thinning hair or hair loss.  Weight gain, forgetfulness, loss of energy, irritability, anxiety, crying jags and depression. Physical conditions such as incontinence, itchy crawly skills, achy joints, tense muscles, and headaches are very common.  Ringing in the ears, bad breath, worsening of allergies, bloating, digestive issues, weight gains, dizziness, vertigo, and sore breasts and more facial hair.  The physical changes can be discouraging as you change from being young to more mature.

There are many things you can do to combat Perimenopause.  First of all, keep a healthy weight and a good diet of calcium, fresh fruit, and vegetables and avoid alcohol.  A good multi-vitamin is also helpful.  Sometimes under a doctor’s care, they may prescribe an antidepressant such as Lexapro or Xanax.  This will help you to be less stressed and more focused.  Mood swings, irritability, depression, lack of focus and concentration, faulty memory can be normal parts of this time period. 

Perimenopause ends when the female does not have a period for a full year.  Anything less than a year you have to wait a full year without a period.

There are other things that can be proactive.  Make a list and evaluate many of your activities.  Throw out unimportant or unproductive activities and focus on learning something new that excites you.  A new hobby or going back to school is a great time for you during this period of life.   A good social support system with friends who have similar interests as you are important and finding humor is important during this time of life.

Exercise is another important element.  If you are a regular exercise it is recommended that you continue to work out at least 60 to 75 minutes per day and if you are new to exercise try to start with 10 minutes of gentle activity.  Strength training is not only helpful physically essential to keep bone density and muscle strengthening but is also a confidence builder as you slowly improve your increased weights.  Some exercises include the lower body doing squats and triceps dips for triceps.  Due to increased responsibility of work and family doing combination strength exercises they work best such as crab walk, planks, pushups which work both the core, upper and lower body.  Other components of exercise that should be included needs to have stretchings such as hatha yoga, Pilates or a gentle stretching routine.  Cardio that is varied intensity such as a run/walk program, a swimming or bike riding program is a good place to start. Having a goal for the cardio that you like is also fun and helps you keep your focus during this changing time such as a 5K run or walk or an indoor triathlon that keeps you fit during the winter months.  Finding a good group instructor that is going through menopause or perimenopause also is a good resource for help, encouragement, and motivation.

Last any concerns can be easily elevated with a trip to the doctor and they may take a simple blood test to see the levels of hormones in your system.  Sometimes they may include an ultrasound of the ovaries to see activity or rule out a more significant condition such as pregnancy, hormone problems, fibroids, blood clotting problems or more rarely cancer.  Be sure to also check with your doctor is you have abdominal pain, recurring fast heartbeats, shortness of breath, numbness, undue and unexplained anxiety and unusual symptoms that you have not noticed before. From my personal experience, Perimenopause is a journey that is a  daily choice.  I choose to embrace the change and enjoy the ride.  For the forty-something female, it is a chance to rediscover and reinvent yourself for the second half of life.

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Christina Chapan

Christina Chapan

Christina Lee Steele Chapan is a certified personal trainer with four certifications from ISSA ACE, AFAA and SCW. She specializes with fitness for children and those adults and children with special needs. In addition to attaining her certifications, she is also a certified elementary and special education school teacher with a B.S. in Elementary Education, a minor in Biblical Studies from North Central University, an endorsement in Special Education, and an M.A. in Curriculum and Development from Governors State University. Her passion is for training the future of tomorrow. She is available for training, speaking and writing.
Christina Chapan

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