Understanding perimenopause

How to navigate the tumultous period of perimenopause with the help of a natural remedy.

Menopause is an inevitable fact of life all women have to face one day. What is crucial for women to be aware of is the period before menopause – perimenopause.

For a period of 10-15 years before menopause is established (at an average age of 51), a woman is already changing in a phase of life called perimenopause.

Perimenopausal changes typically start from age 40, and it can be so dramatic that it is not surprising many term it a midlife crisis.

Dr Wong Kim Lei, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, shares this about perimenopause: “Not many women realise that we do not reach menopause over 24 hours. As oestrogen levels fluctuate during perimenopause, various changes in the body will invariably take place as oestrogen helps regulate more than 400 different functions in women.

“People may use the term menopause quite loosely when they come across a woman experiencing the ‘crazies’. What they are actually describing is probably the perimenopausal journey of her life.”

The highs and lows of oestrogen can wreak havoc to a woman’s body, mind and emotions.

Belly and body fat: During perimenopause, fat metabolism slows down while fat re-distribution takes place, causing fat to preferentially “move” to the belly area. Body weight also increases whilst weight maintenance becomes difficult.

Anger and irritability: Dr Raymond DiGiuseppe, chair of the psychology department at St John’s University in New York, discovered in his research that men and women expressed anger differently.

Dr DiGuiseppe found that women tended to be angry longer, are more resentful and are less likely to express their anger. In fact, women use indirect aggression by “writing off” a higher number of people, intending to never speak to them again because of their anger.

Although studies conclude that perimenopause, in itself, does not cause anger, hormonal fluctuations in perimenopause may act as a trigger for pre-existing anger issues.

Beauty and intimacy: Skin dryness and loss of skin firmness feature prominently during perimenopause. The genital areas are affected too, leading to vaginal dryness, irritation and infections. This certainly affects a woman’s sexuality, as well as her confidence.

Female pattern hair loss (FHPL) is also a feature where hair becomes dryer, thinner and more diffuse, especially on the top of the head.

Psychological changes: Hormonal changes during perimenopause means that a woman’s brain will be bathed in a different set of hormones compared to her earlier years. Come this time, she will begin to “audit” different areas of her life – her relationship with her husband, in-laws and herself – making an evaluation of how happy she is. In short, by the time a woman reaches menopause, she is more interested in pleasing herself rather than other people. As a result, many relationships are likely to be strained.

Are women supposed to wait out their 40s until the changes of perimenopause dissipate? Well, she may not have to, as science is now proving how a phytonutrient (plant nutrient) called genistein may hold the answer to feminine balance, aiding a woman’s journey through perimenopause.

Genistein is a phytoestrogen–antioxidant complex made from soy isoflavones. It “mimics” the actions of oestrogen in a safe, selective manner. When oestrogen levels are low, genistein helps fill in the gaps, while it will compete with oestrogen when levels are high. By doing so, genistein effectively regulates oestrogen ups and downs in the body.

Genistein has no adverse effect on breast or uterine tissue, while benefiting areas of the body like the brain (mood and memory improvement), bones (regulate bone building) and heart.

Its metabolic regulating benefits, especially on fat cells, are also well established.

When deciding on a genistein supplement, it is best to select one that is derived from 100% organic soy and non-genetically modified.

This article is courtesy of Nuvanta’s Nuvaceuticals division. For further information, call 03-5636 3758 or email pharmacist@nuvanta.com. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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Understanding perimenopause


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