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Perimenopause: Last chance to strongly influence how you will look and feel after menopause

Posted Jun 28 2010 5:26pm

There’s a popular perception that menopause just arrives; but in reality you will probably get several years of warning that its coming soon. If you want to influence how good your body looks and feels after menopause, this is your last chance; it will be much more challenging after the end of your fertile years, when your estrogen levels have dropped.

The ‘perimenopausal’ time of a woman’s life can last for several months or years. It’s the time when your hormonal regulation systems can get a little ‘wobbly’. Progesterone levels can drop, resulting in more intensive pre-menstrual tension and mood swings as estrogen temporarily gets the upper hand. Your periods may become more painful. Every woman is different, so your particular symptoms may vary from these.

But the underlying message you can feel is that your hormonal balance is shifting and waning. Menopause is on its way – and with it the possibility of symptoms such as hot flushes, dizziness, mood swings, more wrinkly skin, and a tendency to gain weight and lose shape.

As you get closer to menopause, your body’s levels of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) will rise, and this is a good way to measure how your fertility is waning. FSH is a hormone produced by your pituitary gland that tells your ovaries to produce eggs. When your ovaries don't co-operate and release eggs for fertilising, your pituitary just shouts the message louder - it thinks your ovaries just aren't paying attention, when in fact they've stopped producing eggs. Ask your doctor for a hormone profile blood test  that includes when you see her for your annual physical and pap smear.

The decline in your oestrogen levels after menopause makes it more challenging to keep your body toned, bones strong and skin supple. (Estrogen promotes the formation of muscle and a feminine shape, as well as bone formation). But there are actions you can take now to help keep your shape and femininity.

The first step you need to take, if you aren’t already, is to begin weight training, and keep training, even after menopause. Engage a personal trainer for the best results. You won’t turn into a muscle-bound strongwoman, but you will develop a higher ratio of muscle to fat. This will help you maintain your weight and your shape. The gentle pressure this puts on your bones will help prevent osteoporosis too.

Having a rigorous training regime in place will help you now, but will also help minimise the symptoms of menopause. One of the major therapies I use to combat menopausal symptoms in my clients is......exercise! It really makes a positive difference.

Check that your diet is high in vegetables, particularly green leafy vegetables, and lean protein from seafood and kangaroo. A little legumes in your diet every day is good too. Continue to avoid consuming extra cakes and biscuits. This is no time to become a granny who keeps sweet treats in the pantry "for the grandkids". (They won't do well on biccies either).

Natural remedies are available to help keep your hormones more stable during your perimenopause, after you've done testing to find out where your hormones are actually at.

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