Integrative Gynecologist, Dr. Bronwyn Fitz discusses natural approaches to issues of Perimenopause.
Perimenopause is the time in a woman’s life when her periods have become irregular usually starting in her mid-late 40’s, but they haven’t stopped completely. For most women the transition from perimenopause to menopause takes several years. During that time, progesterone levels fall leaving women in a relatively estrogen dominant state. What does that mean? Well, unchecked estrogen can cause irregular periods, heavy, painful periods, PMS, mood changes, sleep disturbances. Eventually estrogen levels begin to drop too, leading to hot flashes, vaginal dryness, brain fog. All of this can be very difficult for women. Women come to me and say, “I just have no idea what is going on with my body.” Well, there is hope.
In my practice we support women through perimenopause, first by supporting estrogen elimination, avoiding xenoestrogens (chemicals in the environment that can act like hormones), using phytoestrogens in food therapeutically. We use herbs to support progesterone. We are mindful of how the stress hormone, cortisol, can impact periods and mood, sleep and energy. I use adaptogenic herbs to help in this arena as well. So here are some of my go to perimenopause strategies:
- Food as medicine – phytoestrogens like flax, organic whole soy, green tea
- Exercise – balancing cardio with weight training and calming practices like yoga, tai chi
- Stress management – meditation, mindfulness, acupuncture
- Herbs – chaste tree, rhubarb, soy, kudzu, sage, ashwagandha, St john’s wort
- Estrogen Elimination – magnesium, DIM, sulfurophane, calcium D Glucarate
- Hormonal support – oral progesterone, progestin containing IUD, birth control pill
Perimenopause is a normal time of transition that can be very challenging for women. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I work with women to figure out what their most bothersome symptoms are and address those first. The best way is going to be different for each person. Some of my patients want hormone replacement therapy and get great results with progesterone a few weeks out of the month. Taking into consideration contraceptive needs is important. Some women still need birth control and they might do well with a progestin IUD or birth control pill. And lastly, some of my patients want to avoid hormones, so we use herbs, food, lifestyle instead. My goal is to meet my patients where they are and support them the best way that I know how.
If you would like to learn more about my practice, call me for a free 15 minute consultation at 203-900-4194.
*Please remember to always consult a knowledgeable health care practitioner before starting any herbs or supplements since they can have side effects and interactions with other herbs or medicines that you might be taking.