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Explaining Menopause and Perimenopause

Spring is filled with new beginnings. It symbolizes a time of rebirth and renewal for all. This can be seen in the medium between winter and spring where flowers begin to bloom, animals awaken from their winter slumber, birds migrate back to warmer climates, and nature once again feels alive.

Springtime reminds us of the many transitional and transformational phases that occur throughout our lives. As we grow older, one of the natural changes that occurs within women is the process of menopause. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, menopause is referred to as the “second spring” in a woman’s life. The body is rebirthed into a new chapter of life and renewed into its final stage of completeness.

What is menopause?

Menopause is the stage in a woman’s life where her body transitions out of her child-bearing stage. This transition occurs when the ovaries cease to produce reproductive hormones and no monthly periods occur for an entire year.

While the process of menopause occurs, your body’s ovarian follicles decline. This causes the ovaries to become less responsive to two gonadotropins—luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. These hormones help stimulate the female gonad (or ovaries) by regulating hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. As you age, your ovaries begin to slow, which affects the regulation of these reproductive hormones by preventing the gonadotropins from performing their usual functions.

However, before reaching menopause, women experience a transitional phase which is referred to as the “menopausal transition” or “perimenopause.”

What is menopausal transition or perimenopause?

Like springtime, a natural progression of symptoms is brought about by the wisdom of the body during perimenopause. These indications are often an expression of existing imbalances that have lived in the body for multiple years. Some symptoms may include:

Hot flashes Weight gain (specifically due to slowed metabolism)

Chills Mood changes + increased irritability

Night sweats Insomnia or trouble sleeping

Vaginal dryness Thinning hair + dry skin

Irregular periods Breasts decrease in fullness

Painful intercourse

Managing perimenopause with functional medicine

Because menopause is a natural biological process within women, it’s important that we avoid halting or interfering with the process. Instead, we want to focus on the symptoms that are causing the most discomfort for you.

Symptoms of perimenopause and menopause are different with every woman, but a few steps that can be taken to experience symptoms more comfortably, can include the amount of sleep you get, proper supplements and balancing a healthy diet. Learn more about how to manage your menopause in our blog "Natural Practices for Managing Menopause."

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