Have you ever heard of perimenopause?
It is a natural phase in every woman’s life that marks the gradual shift from their reproductive years to menopause, the point at which menstruation ceases. In fact, menopause is officially diagnosed when you go 12 continuous months without menstruating.
Now, early signs such as hormonal fluctuations, highly irregular and unconventional menstrual cycles and blood flow, as well as various physical and emotional symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, and fluctuating libido, are all indicators of perimenopause. And while menopause comes with its challenges, perimenopause is no easy journey either—primarily due to the uncertainty surrounding its symptoms.
Although perimenopause, the first phase of menopause, generally occurs between 40-44 years of age, recently, many Indian women have been going into perimenopause at a younger age, i.e., typically at the end of their 30s. This is much earlier when compared to the global average.
Let’s take a deeper look at why this is happening and what are some natural ways to treat and manage perimenopause.
Why Are Indian Women Experiencing Perimenopause Earlier Than The Global Average?
According to studies, the global average age of women going into menopause is between 45 and 55 years. In India, this drops to a younger age group, with most women going into menopause between 41.9 and 49.4 years. In fact, the rate of perimenopause (before age 40) is as high as 8%.
Inevitably, this means that perimenopause among Indian women starts as early as their mid to late 30s.
4 Factors That Are Contributing To Early Perimenopause
While a voluntary or involuntary hysterectomy contributes to early perimenopause, most of the other causes are out of our control. In about 50% of the people, there’s no cause at all which usually means that it’s genetics. There isn’t anything you can do that would make a difference, you just need to learn how to manage your symptoms to make this transition in your life easier to deal with.
Let’s look at a few lifestyle factors that potentially speed up the onset of perimenopause:
1. Smoking Cigarettes
A factor that’s responsible for a myriad of diseases, smoking a cigarette is the number one cause of early perimenopause, as it expedites the loss of eggs from your ovaries. Various studies show that women who smoke usually enter perimenopause 1-2 years earlier than those who don’t.
2. Chronic Stress
Fast-paced lives have made stress and burnout commonplace in today’s world. However, chronic stress has biological consequences. It leads to high levels of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA), which in turn affects your hormone production and menstrual cycles leading to absent, infrequent periods. Over time, this can contribute to your body going into early perimenopause and impairment of reproductive function.
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3. Hormone Disruption
Hormonal health is vital as far as menstrual, reproductive, and menopausal health are concerned. Factors like excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption, poor diet and nutrition, taking oral contraceptives like birth control pills, and endocrine disorders like PCOS, diabetes, and impaired thyroid function can all cause hormonal imbalances, which in the long term lead to early perimenopause.
4. Family History
Just like how the age at which you get your first period is hereditary, the age of menopause is inherited too. If the women in your family have a history of reaching menopause early, you will go through perimenopause early in life as well, and there’s nothing that can be done about it. Additionally, the earlier you get your period, the earlier you reach menopause.
10 Tell-Tale Signs & Symptoms Of Perimenopause
Interestingly, some symptoms of perimenopause (but not all) overlap with pregnancy symptoms, which is why many women don’t realise they’re in perimenopause until they consult their gynaecologist. Perimenopause can often manifest in the following ways:
1. Irregular Menstrual Cycles
Perimenopause often brings irregular periods, with menstrual cycles becoming shorter or longer, and periods sometimes skipped. This irregularity is one of the early signs of transitioning into menopause.
2. Hot Flashes
It’s common for women in perimenopause and menopause to feel unusually hot and sweat profusely. These intense heat sensations throughout the body are known as hot flashes.
3. Night Sweats
Night sweats are essentially hot flashes occurring during the night, often causing sleep disturbances and waking up in a sweat-soaked state.
4. Mood Swings
Hormonal fluctuations during perimenopause can affect mood, leading to mood swings, heightened irritability, and increased emotional sensitivity.
5. Changes in Libido
Even during perimenopause, sexual desire can undergo significant changes, and often be as unpredictable as mood swings.
6. Vaginal Dryness
Hormonal changes can lead to vaginal dryness, resulting in discomfort during sex. This symptom can affect sexual function, overall vaginal health, and emotional well-being. Using a body-safe lubricant can enhance intimacy.
7. Sleep Problems
Many women in perimenopause experience sleep disturbances, including insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns. Hormonal fluctuations, night sweats, anxiety, and mood swings can all contribute to sleep difficulties during this phase.
8. Weight Gain During Perimenopause
Hormonal changes can impact metabolism and fat storage. Weight gain, especially around the abdominal area, is a common concern during perimenopause, along with bloating.
9. Changes in Menstrual Flow
In addition to irregularity, menstrual flow can change. Some women may experience heavier periods, while others may have lighter flows than usual or even mid-cycle spotting.
10. Increased Allergies
Interestingly, some women notice an increase in allergies or allergy symptoms during perimenopause, likely linked to shifting hormone levels and their impact on the immune system.
Natural And Effective Ways To Manage & Treat Perimenopause
Through the course of perimenopause and menopause, your healthcare provider may put you on hormone therapy to manage your symptoms. But, if you’re looking for natural remedies minus the side effects, there’s enough evidence to suggest that an Ayurvedic approach is effective in managing perimenopause and menopause.
Here’s what a natural treatment plan would look like:
1. Supplementing Your Diet With Ayurveda
Ayurveda recommends various herbs to relieve the perimenopausal symptoms. These herbs can be consumed in the form of teas, capsules, or powders. Focusing on holistic treatment, the Ayurvedic approach is designed to help rebalance your dosha—vata, pitta, kapha—naturally.
Now, while there aren’t a lot of menopause-first brands in India, we discovered Menoveda which marries ayurvedic remedies to manage perimenopause and menopause. They help you supplement your diet with capsules that hold a blend of Ayurvedic herbs and vitamins like Ashwagandha, Shatavari, and Triphala. Their formulations help with hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and many other symptoms. Based on your problems, you can try Akira for Well-being, Amaya for Fitness and Strength, Asaya for Dermal Health, Bloat for Digestive Health, and Aadya as a Multivitamin. What we also love is that the ayurvedic supplements are 100% vegan, free from synthetics and hormones, and are also sugar-, toxin-, gluten-, and soy-free.
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2. Using Yoga To De-Stress Your Body
Perimenopause and anxiety are connected, and yoga offers a natural and holistic way to manage these symptoms. According to the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation in Bangalore, specific yoga poses and sequences like the Surya Namaskar, Pranayama, and Avartan Dhyan can help relieve stress, improve flexibility, and alleviate symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, and perimenopause breast pain. Studies also show that regular yoga practice enhances overall well-being and helps maintain hormonal balance during this transitional phase.
3. Trying Meditation To Calm Your Mind
Ayurveda promotes the use of meditation to manage the emotional and psychological aspects of perimenopause. Meditation techniques, including mindfulness meditation, can reduce stress, anxiety, and perimenopause fatigue, improve sleep quality, and enhance emotional stability. Practising consistent meditation empowers women to navigate emotional fluctuations, and promotes a sense of calm and inner balance.
4. Consulting Ayurvedic Experts
You can consult Ayurvedic experts from platforms like Menoveda. Their personalised guidance, when it comes to menopause and perimenopause can help you understand your unique constitution (Prakriti) and any imbalances (Vikriti) that may be aggravating your perimenopausal symptoms. This consultation will serve as the foundation for creating a holistic plan tailored to your specific needs.
5. Eating A Balanced Diet
A balanced Ayurvedic diet that includes nourishing foods according to your constitution can help alleviate symptoms. Incorporate cooling foods like leafy greens, coconut, and cucumber to manage heat-related symptoms like hot flashes.
6. Following A Sleep Schedule
Keep your bed and wake time consistent, even on weekends. Avoid napping during the day so that you’re able to sleep well through the night. And if you’re struggling to find your rhythm, try Ayurvedic herbs and supplements to improve your sleep quality from Menoveda here.
7. Drink Plenty Of Water
Hot flashes can quickly drain your body, making you feel dehydrated, anxious, light-headed, and nauseous. Make sure you stay hydrated by upping your water intake throughout the day. Try specific herbal teas with chamomile, lavender, or infusions to address symptoms like night sweats and mood swings.
8. Limit Caffeine & Alcohol
Intake Reduce or eliminate caffeine and alcohol consumption, as these can exacerbate symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, and mood disturbances. Both also act as diuretics and can be really dehydrating.
9. Try Herbal Supplements
Complement your diet with herbal perimenopause supplements or formulations prescribed by Menoveda’s experts. Ayurvedic herbs like Shatavari, Ashwagandha, and Brahmi can help balance hormones and support overall well-being when you are approaching the perimenopause age. Check out the full range of Menoveda’s Ayurvedic supplements for menopause and perimenopause here.
As we’ve learned, there isn’t one single cause for the early onset of perimenopause. What you can control are your lifestyle choices that can delay the onset of early perimenopause, and also, be accepting of the transition when it happens. This acceptance becomes a lot easier when you’re able to manage your symptoms smoothly. No side effects, no worries. It’s time to #UnpauseThePause with Menoveda.
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