Are you in your early to mid forties? Rather than feel confident and more in control of your life, do you actually feel anxious, have outbursts of anger, a rapid heartbeat or maybe even panic attacks? If so what you are experiencing is likely to be the perimenopause.

You’re only in your 40’s, crikey, peri menopause? Is this the beginning of the end? NO!

I see many women in my reflexology clinic who are experiencing just this, its a very misunderstood and worrying time for many women.

Perimenopause is a transition to menopause and can last several years, possibly up to 10. The average age for menopause is 50, so the perimenopause generally starts for women in their early to mid 40’s. There are situations where women have an early menopause, so for them this may start earlier.

Firstly, lets look at the menopause. Often referred to as the autumn of a woman’s life, unfortunately in most western cultures it is viewed as the winter of discontent. It is often viewed as an end, a movement into old age and the negative connotations associated. It is an end to your childbearing years not an end to your purpose; in fact it is a new beginning in your life.

Reframing this time to a sense of empowerment and self worth is a much better approach. If we look at cultures that acknowledge the importance of older women, we can see how they have an exalted status within the family, and a greater respect within their community. In such cultures, menopause is viewed as a positive experience and as such interestingly, women report less physical and emotional changes. Come on west, lets catch up.

What is happening in the perimenopause?

Hormone production in the ovaries begins to slow down. What’s key here is that the oestrogen, progesterone and androgen hormone production is then taken over by the adrenal glands, body fat the skin and the brain. SO what is the health of those structures?
The adrenals produce stress hormone adrenaline and cortisol. High levels of cortisol can result in the adrenal being overworked, which then has an effect of this new required function of additional hormone production. The poor things are overworked already and we give them mpremoremore responsibility (this sounds like many women lives too!)

What symptoms are common?
You may experience, some or none of these:
Changing period, length of cycle, heaviness of bleed, colour of bleed
Low self-confidence
Decreased sex drive
Breast tenderness
Aches and pains
Urinary urgency

What can you do?
• Take regular exercise
If you don’t exercise already, check with your GP. Increase exercise gradually, brisk walking, cycle and swimming are great.

• Manage your weight
Try to achieve and maintain an appropriate weight. Check with your GP as to what this is.

• Diet and nutrition
There is lots of information out there, but it may make sense to see a nutritionist or see your GP to check for some nutrition depletion, e.g. Vitamin B blood test.
Ensure you are getting enough protein, you should have protein with every meal; include good fats (Avocado, nuts).
There is a lot of information readily available about magnesium and its effects on hormone balance. Taking Epsom salt baths is incredibly relaxing and allows tans dermal intake of Magnesium. Foods rich in magnesium are:
Beans and nuts.
Whole grains such as brown rice and whole wheat bread.
Green leafy vegetables.

If you are considering supplementation, research effectively, as some medicine interact with it and discuss with your doctor. Take a good quality food state supplement if so.
Watch out for sugar, best to reduce intake to assist hormonal balance and help magnesium uptake.

• Improve sleep habits
Try to get to bed by or before 10pm. The benefits are well reported. Reduce caffeine during the day, especially after 12noon, of sleep is an issue; consider chamomile tea as an alternative.

• Take time for yourself and take charge
This for me is the biggest of all. What do you do for yourself? Anything? Self-care is so very important and sends a message to yourself that you matter as well as improving your physical and emotional wellbeing. A walk, a good read, a forgotten hobby, a new hobby, and a yoga class. Perhaps look into some reflexology or massage.
I strongly recommend mindfulness too. This can be so powerful and allows you to sit with how it is now, right here in this moment. The positive effect on your over worked adrenals is very powerful.

I urge you to embrace this time, listen to your bodies gentle or possible urgent plea to just give it some care.