When someone mentions hot flashes, sleepless nights or mood swings, most people associate automatically to a 50 year old woman going through menopause right? Yet a lot of younger women spend years being affected by these symptoms, unaware of that they are dealing with perimenopause. Even though most commonly felt during the mid-40s, perimenopause can start as early as their mid-30s and lasts around 4 years. Nevertheless, some individuals can experience hormonal fluctuations from 2 to 10 years before menopause!
There are four stages in a woman's life cycle: premenopause, perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause. Premenopause is the fertile span of life when the ovaries release ova. Menopause is defined as a full year without a menstrual cycle and marks the end of the fertile period when the ovaries have no more ova to release. Post menopause is the years following menopause where the body has becomes accustom to the estrogen drop and symptoms are no longer present.
So then what is PERImenopause then? It's the TRANSITIONAL period where the body becomes irregular. Since women’s eggs are produced when we are fetuses, a women's maximal fertility window is determined from birth; hence the biological clock phenomenon! Each period brings about the release of an egg so as the number left start dwindling, the body starts changing. As their number diminishes, the ova start being released sporadically thus triggering an unsteady stream of estrogen production. So the fluctuation of estrogen is directly related to the number of ova. As a consequence of this estrogen fluctuation, the multiple symptoms we know so well begin to appear.
It is important to note that the ovaries are actually not the only source of estrogen production. The adrenal glands can also produce estrogen and, as the number of ova diminishes, the adrenal glands slowly become the main provider of estrogen. Nevertheless, the adrenal glands can only produce a limited amount of estrogen; the adrenals can never fully compensate for the ovaries.
In addition....well there's life to deal with! An active and stressful lifestyle can leave the adrenal glands depleted and incapable of adequately responding to the required changes happening during peirmenopause. Poor nutrition, such as excessive sugars and stimulants (coffee, tea, chocolate, etc.) also throws the glands into a state of deficiency and imbalance. These habits can rapidly become crutches that can make perimenopause a nightmare! Consequently, it becomes crucial to keep healthy adrenal glands in order to smooth the transition to menopause. Revitalized adrenal glands can become a very strong asset for reducing menopausal symptoms.