18 October 2018

Am I Peri-Menopausal? What is it exactly?

Many women don’t think about the menopause when in their 30’s or early 40’s as they tend to think it is years away! However, what women don’t realise is that we can start having peri-menopausal symptoms in our 30’s & 40’s and not realise our hormones are beginning to change.

The average age for a woman to go through the menopause is 51 years in the UK but women don’t realise that the reason their periods are starting to get heavier or more erratic is often because they are in the peri-menopausal stages. Everyone is different, but usually by your mid 40’s you may find you are getting hotter at night, maybe even having a few hot flushes at night or you may find you are putting on weight around your middle and even with your exercise it isn’t shifting.

The menopause is a natural occurrence, all women have to go through it at some stage of their life so start learning a little more about it.  Some sail through it and don’t even know they have  been through it.  Generally speaking – if you go a whole year without a period then you have been through the menopause.  What happens is your ovaries have stopped producing eggs so your main hormones of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone begin to drop – hence they are all over the place and so you start getting lots of different symptoms as they are no longer balanced.

For anyone who has been through the menopause or most definitely having more erratic periods or finding it harder to lose some weight, then you need to rethink what you are doing exercise wise.  Cortisol is one hormone we need for short periods of time to getting up and going.  However, we don’t want to constantly have raised cortisol in our bodies – which we get if very stressed, drinking too much caffeine or pushing exercise really hard for a long time.

Oestrogen is an insulin sensitizing hormone and a hormone that controls the negative impact of cortisol. Progesterone opposes the action of oestrogen on insulin, but works together with oestrogen in controlling negative impact of cortisol – balancing it.

Why is this important? Because insulin and cortisol are a bad hormonal combination for fat loss. These two hormones, when combined together in high amounts over long periods, push the female physiology towards storing fat when calories are high (as opposed to building muscle), and reduce the amount of fat burned when calories are low (burning muscle instead). This is a bad combination for any women, but menopausal women are affected to a much greater extent.

We also need to start looking after our bone health and most importantly our pelvic floor.  It is made up of muscles and in the menopause muscles like the pelvic floor and our heart need to be strengthened! This is something that I talk about at presentations I run on the peri-menopause.

I am starting to offer groups of women talks about the peri-meopause – instead of reviewing books at your Book club or having a jewelry  party how about organising ‘Peri-meopausal’ parties !