Congrats on almost getting through a long, dark, and cold winter. Now, we welcome March Madness — or is every month madness month during menopause?
Anyways, we strongly believe that preparing for perimenopause/menopause is so much more productive than reading horror stories about it, so today we’re sharing our top five tips for preparing for perimenopause — to help you feel as prepared as possible.
First things first: what is perimenopause? The word itself means “around menopause,” and it’s defined as the stage right before menopause.
Perimenopause is the point where your reproductive hormones first start to change... but before your period actually stops. Unlike menopause, it’s still possible to get pregnant during perimenopause, but your period may become irregular. On average, most women go through perimenopause in their mid-40s, but honestly:
It’s never too early to prepare for it.
While you’ll have a hard time getting any 20-something-year-olds to learn about preparing for perimenopause, we hope this article can help you prepare if you’re somewhere in your 30s.
Tip 1: Learn about it.
One of the best things you can do to prepare for perimenopause (and beyond) is to learn about it. There are so many different ways to do this, and since you’re reading this — you’re already off to a great start! Be sure to check out our Menopause FAQs to get a head start on the most common questions.
On top of reading blogs, there are a lot of awesome, candidly-written books on perimenopause out there. They can help prepare you for perimenopause and demystify it by learning from other womens’ experiences and the science behind it all. Here are a few recommendations:
- The Other PMS: Your Survival Guide for Perimenopause & Menopause by Dr. LaKeischa W. McMillan
- What’s Happening to Me Now?! The Facts of Life, As A Woman in your 40s (Straight Talk About Perimenopause) by Heather Wright
- Before the Change: Taking Charge of Your Perimenopause by Ann Louise Gittleman
In preparing for perimenopause, it’s also super helpful to talk with your healthcare professional. Since they likely know more of your medical history, they can recommend specific strategies.
Tip 2: Find ways to reduce stress and improve your sleep routine.
When preparing for perimenopause, it’s important to solidify healthy habits ahead of time. You’ll notice this advice will repeat itself throughout the article… because it’s definitely easier to prepare when you still feel like your mind is right.
If you’ve heard horror stories about the various symptoms of menopause, first off — don’t freak out. There’s no way to fully predict how your body will respond, so it won’t help to panic. Instead, you can focus on doing things that will help, like working to reduce stress and improving your sleeping habits.
Reducing stress can have a profound positive impact on your entire menopause experience. It can help you lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk for heart disease, and increase your body’s resilience to other physical problems — like menopause hot flashes and mood swings!
Although only you will know what works best for you to reduce stress, here are a few of our tips:
- Identify your sources of stress. Evaluate which ones add the most stress to your daily life.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness practices like deep breathing, meditating, and gratitude journaling can help you focus on the present, calm your worries, and improve your clarity.
- Exercise. (We’ll dive into this one more in the next section.)
Reducing stress with tips like these can lead to improved sleep quality. This becomes even more important as you approach perimenopause, as it can bring on new sleep disturbances. Additional recommendations for promoting better sleep include:
- Limit caffeine, especially later in the day.
- Decompress with a nighttime relaxation routine.
- Something as simple as a skincare routine with MSM skincare products can help you unwind while slowing the signs of aging in your skin.
- Read or journal instead of using electronics.
- Regulate the temperature of your room. Experts recommend around 65°F.
- Avoid alcohol. It may be more tempting because it can help you get to sleep quicker, but it will not help you stay asleep. Alcohol is known to disrupt your sleep throughout the night.
By being conscious about these things, you can improve your menopause experiences and potentially reduce the effects of hot flashes, mood swings, night sweat, and more.
Tip 3: Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake.
Although we just mentioned this in the context of sleep, it deserves its own section. Reducing your caffeine and alcohol consumption before reaching perimenopause can also have a profound positive impact on your entire menopause experience. Here’s why.
Weaning off of caffeine isn’t easy. If you’ve done it before, you know what we’re talking about. Withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Muscle pain
- Difficulty concentrating
Do you notice some of these overlap with the symptoms of menopause? Our point is, cutting out caffeine while going through menopause can make things even harder. It’s a good idea to separate the two — get your body used to smaller amounts of caffeine before you reach perimenopause.
When it comes to alcohol, you’re probably aware of its negative effects. If you drink alcohol, you’ve probably heard plenty from your doctor(s) about limiting your intake, so we’ll spare you the repetition.
Instead, we’ll focus on some interesting ways alcohol and menopause can act like fire and gasoline (okay, that’s a dramatic comparison). Too much alcohol during perimenopause and beyond can:
- Increase the risk of breast cancer.
- Trigger common menopause symptoms.
- Worsen anxiety, depression, and/or mood swings.
- Amplify hangovers.
In other words, it’s a good idea to get your intake (at least) down to the recommended level in preparation for perimenopause. Don’t forget, drink plenty of water too!
Tip 4: Establish a realistic diet and exercise plan.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, diet and exercise can absolutely transform your menopause experience. There's a reason you see this advice over and over from doctors and other sources for menopause information (like this blog).
A nutrient-rich, balanced diet can help with menopause weight gain, mood swings, hot flashes, headaches, bone density concerns, and more. Although, we think a healthy diet is important through all stages of life, not just the stages of menopause.
In general, you should focus on creating a diet full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains — and making sure you’re getting enough protein, calcium, and Vitamin D. You can find our more specific diet advice here!
Starting your healthy diet early gives you a head start on menopause, and could help you completely avoid some negative effects like menopause weight gain. If you’re already on top of your diet, props to you. Keep going, it only gets more important to do so.
Paired with a good diet, exercise can take you a long way before, during, and after menopause, too. Benefits of regular exercise include improved sleep & mood, strengthened bones & muscles, reduced stress, weight management, and more. Don’t worry, your exercise routine doesn’t need to be anything crazy, just something you can realistically stick to! You can read more details and tips about this in our Menopause FAQs.
One thing we didn’t touch on about exercise in that section… the importance of strengthening your pelvic floor. As you reach perimenopause, you can experience changes in your pelvic floor, vaginal tissue and urethra, which can lead to random urges to urinate (lovely, right?). But don’t worry, Kegel exercises can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles to prevent things like this as you start perimenopause.
Tip 5: Find a community.
For many women, perimenopause can be a vulnerable time, and there’s absolutely no shame in that. Changing hormone levels (and resulting symptoms) can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression.
On top of that, your family and friends might not understand exactly what you’re going through, which can cause unexpected feelings of isolation. But we want you to know, you’re never alone on this journey. We hope you know you can find a menopause support community in At Last Naturals.
In addition to the ALN community, here are some amazing menopause support groups:
- Menopause Support Group: a Facebook group with over 10,000 followers.
- Red Hot Mamas: the nation's largest program for mid-life women's health and support
- The North American Menopause Society
Perimenopause (and all stages of menopause) are meant to be experienced not dreaded. Although we joke about menopause madness, we still want your mindset to be curious and open-minded. So when the time comes, you can feel confident and ready to embrace the journey of menopause… while still being able to laugh at yourself a little!Our menopause relief products can help with PMS, perimenopause, and menopause. It’s never too early to try out their calming, cooling effects — and find out how much relief they can provide before you really need it. You’ll thank yourself later! Shop Now.