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Hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, oh my! If you are experiencing these symptoms, you might be asking, “Am I in perimenopause?” “Is menopause right around the corner?” “What should I expect?” “Is this normal?” “Is there anything I can do?”

Breathe! There is hope. By supporting your health with diet and lifestyle changes, the transition to menopause doesn’t have to be miserable! In fact, it can be some of the best years of your life. While perimenopause and menopause are natural parts of your life, it doesn’t mean that you must deal with uncomfortable menopause symptoms and other health issues during and after this time.

Before we dive into how we can help you ease into menopause, let’s identify the difference between perimenopause and menopause.

Perimenopause vs. menopause

Perimenopause is a gradual process that typically starts in a woman’s 40s but can occur earlier or later and lasts anywhere from a few months to a few years. During perimenopause, a woman’s ovaries begin to produce less estrogen and progesterone, which can cause irregular menstrual periods, among other symptoms (which we will outline later).

Menopause occurs when a woman has gone 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period. At this point, her ovaries have stopped producing eggs and her estrogen levels have significantly decreased. Menopause is a natural part of the aging process and typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, although it can occur earlier or later.

What hormone-related changes occur during perimenopause and menopause?

Research around pre, peri, and post-menopause focuses primarily on the hormone estrogen. Estrogen is considered an “excitatory” and “building” hormone and aside from its function of female development and regulating menstrual cycles, it plays a strong role in supporting bone and heart health, a healthy libido, as well as memory function, mood, and more.

Although estrogen begins to decline slightly during perimenopause, the second major sex hormone, progesterone begins to drop significantly. In fact, according to research, progesterone drops by about 80% between the ages of 40-60 years, and after menopause, it can drop down to 90%.

Graph showing progesterone and estrogen dropping at menopause

Why does this significant drop in progesterone matter?

Progesterone is known as the “calming” hormone. It is also a key player in the regulation of the menstrual cycle and is responsible for maintaining pregnancy.

But progesterone is also crucial for burning fat, helping the body get rid of excess fluid/water weight, promoting calming mood, supporting restful sleep, balancing blood sugar, and inhibiting the overgrowth of certain tissues in the body.

As estrogen levels slowly decline with age, and progesterone significantly, an imbalance in these two hormones, known as estrogen dominance, can occur.

Estrogen and progesterone out of balance

What causes progesterone levels to drop during perimenopause?

So, what is causing our “oh so helpful” hormone progesterone to drop so rapidly? Among other things, the main cause is stress!

Cortisol is a hormone that is released in response to any kind of stress in our lives and is meant to protect us. Most of us recognize that stress comes from both mental and emotional issues such as stress with our jobs, kids, parents, relationships, finances, moving, or any number of things. However, one area that most women overlook is physical stress. Physical stress could come in the form of over-exercising, physical pain, digestive issues/food sensitivities, toxins in the environment, artificial lights, lack of proper sleep, and more.

When we are under constant stress, as many of us are without even realizing it, the body can’t keep up with the demand for making enough cortisol and begins to steal our valuable progesterone to convert it to cortisol. This creates an imbalance between progesterone and estrogen, leading to a whole host of unpleasant symptoms.

And this doesn’t just impact women who are going through perimenopause or menopause. Stress impacts everyone and can contribute to an imbalance in hormone levels in women as early as puberty.

Chart showing factors behind estrogen dominance and estrogen deficiency

Symptoms of Perimenopause and Menopause

Symptoms of perimenopause and menopause can be similar, but the severity and duration can vary greatly. Hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain (or difficulty losing weight), and vaginal dryness are common symptoms of both perimenopause and menopause. However, these symptoms may be more intense and long-lasting during menopause.

Other symptoms of perimenopause

  • irregular menstrual periods
  • mood swings
  • sleep disturbances
  • changes in sexual desire
  • trouble concentrating
  • memory problems

Once a woman has entered menopause, she may experience additional symptoms such as urinary incontinence, thinning hair, and skin changes. Bone loss is also a common concern during menopause, which can increase the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

The BeBalanced Approach to Perimenopause and Menopause

Balance your hormones, don’t replace them! At BeBalanced, we specialize in helping women of all stages of life reduce or alleviate symptoms of a hormone imbalance from a holistic, natural approach. We work with our client’s unique body chemistry to hack hormones naturally, helping to burn fat without counting calories or intense exercise. Plus, we provide the tools to keep the weight off for good. Our approach ties together nutrition, stress management, and all-natural supplementation through one-on-one guided support by our dedicated Wellness Coaches.

To see if BeBalanced is the right fit for you, start by scheduling a free consultation. We will meet with you, listen to what you are experiencing, and create a customized program to get you feeling like yourself again.

Stop dreading menopause! Let us help.