Updated: Jul 4
Have you found yourself asking, Am I going crazy? What is going on with my body?
This is a very common question amongst women, aged anywhere between late 30s and into their 50s. You may be experiencing symptoms that you are struggling to manage or explain. Symptoms such as incredible fatigue, problems sleeping, mood swings or having trouble remembering things! You may be feeling frustrated as these are symptoms you have previously been able to manage or push through, you are a strong and intelligent woman and have achieved many great life achievements and worked through various struggles physically and mentally, so why do you feel like you have now hit a wall and your body is letting you down?
First the good news!
These new found struggles are in no way a reflection of a lack of strength or effort or motivation on your part. You are very much still an awesome, strong woman!
The bad news here is that you have most likely hit the transition of perimenopause,... and the struggle is real!
Perimenopause is the period of time when symptoms may start, before you hit the official Menopause stage (cessation of periods for 12 months). This is because your ovaries stop working gradually over time and your body starts reacting to the declining levels of hormones, in particular oestrogen. For many people this can happen several years before periods stop altogether, for others, it may only be a few months, before your periods stop completely.
Understanding your hormones to take back control during perimenopause.
It's not you, it's your hormones!
Wait!,... there is more good news! You have the ability to ease the impact of your perimenopause transition by understanding and preparing for the physiological changes and symptoms you may experience, as they say, knowledge is power!
Hormones regulate the activity of cells and tissues in various organs of the body. The balance of hormones produced by your body is essential to good health and a feeling of well-being.
In women, various sex hormones like oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and other hormones like cortisol, and DHEA, exert powerful effects throughout life. Knowing the function of your hormones and the inevitable hormone shifts during perimenopause is a powerful step towards understanding your own unique journey through perimenopause and discovering how to support your body's own 'super powers' to tame your perimenopausal symptoms.
Introducing the first two hormones you need to know:
Oestrogen stimulates the growth of tissue, such as development of breast and reproductive organs, and ensures their function. In the brain, it boosts the synthesis and function of neurotransmitters that affect sleep, mood, memory, libido, and cognitive factors such as learning and attention span.
Oestrogen decreases the perception of pain, preserves bone mass, and preserves the elasticity and moisture content of the skin.
The most potent form of oestrogen made by the ovaries, adrenals and fat cells when older. Estradiol affects the functions of most of the body’s organs.
Many of the common symptoms of perimenopause are associated with a decrease in the body's production of oestrogen and estradiol.
To understand why a decease in the body's oestrogen levels can cause many of the symptoms we associate with perimenopause I would like to introduce you to the body's neuroendocrine system.