Generally woman in their late 30s to mid-40s, start to experience one or several physical, mental and emotional symptoms that seem like menopause quite a long time before they actually reach it. During this decade-long transition, which is also known as Perimenopause – hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain and mood swings can become unbearable across all sections of women.

Menopause, which theoretically begins 12 months after the last menses – is defined as a time when a woman’s estrogen and progesterone levels fall off prematurely. It is during perimenopause that the body braces itself up for this change with fluctuations in hormones that cause the menstrual cycle to match up with this change, usually shortening from one period to the next, though any and all changes in the cycle are possible.

On the other hand, Perimenopause is a normal process. But in order for a women’s body to continue producing adequate hormones levels, a woman is highly advised to be healthy going in–physically, emotionally, spiritually as well as situationally.

After all her future depends not only on the health of her physical body, but also on her nonphysical support system. Because perimenopause typically occurs at the midpoint of a woman’s life, it brings a perfect opportunity to take control of the situation and make sure that you’re doing everything you can to stay healthy and fit.

The symptoms of perimenopause vary according to different individualistic composition of hormone patterns. They can be as individualistic and unpredictable as one’s fingerprints. The factors affecting perimenopause – include – menstrual irregularities, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and thinning, skin changes, fatigue, decreased libido, mood swings, weight gain, depression, anxiety, changes in memory and cognition, sleep disturbance, hair loss on head, acne, heart palpitations, nausea, headaches, facial hair growth, urinary tract infections and the onset of bone loss and cholesterol changes.

Initially, symptoms can sway between indirect and seldom to overt and daily. They can be mild, moderate or severe. It is interesting to note that while some women experience only slight changes, others have variating problems over time.

Beyond these hormonal shifts, there are two major physiological changes that take place during perimenopause– an increase in cholesterol and triglyceride levels and a decrease in bone mineral content. Ideally, before these changes occur, woman should have baseline tests (and determine risk) for osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

It is advisable that a woman should also be eating a low-fat, plant-based diet, exercising regularly and making sure to get enough vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in your diet.

Additionally, you’ll need to consult with your doctor about whether you should use phytoestrogens (plant hormones) and natural hormones or consider going the route of conventional hormone replacement therapy instead.

Here are some of the dos that a woman should look forward to –

– Add the magic of Soy to your diet, because the isoflavones in soy have natural estrogenic effects, adding it to your diet can decrease hot flashes, regulate the menstrual cycle, stabilize bone density and reduce cholesterol. One can go for 25 grams of soy protein a day from soy milk or soy powders.

– Including more nuts, seeds and especially flaxseed oil and vegetable oils in your diet helps reduce calcium loss and improve its absorption, as well as protect against cancer, heart disease and hormone-related problems like with the hair, skin and nails.

– When it comes to reducing menopausal symptoms, black cohosh has been shown to reduce a variety of menopausal symptoms while ginseng can help reduce hot flashes, decrease vaginal dryness, increase energy and improve your mood. Red clover, which contains isoflavones, decreases the frequency and severity of hot flashes and night sweats. Many of these plants are available in special “women’s formulas” and can be taken as teas, tinctures or capsules.

Transdermal skin creams that provide small, steady doses of progesterone to balance fluctuations in estrogen are also good. They are very effective in treating hot flashes and night sweats, and may help with mood swings, vaginal dryness, headaches and regulating the menstrual cycle.

It is highly advisable to avoid hot drinks, salt, alcohol and spicy foods if you have hot flashes–they aggravate the symptoms, as do smoking, stress, sleep deprivation, a sedentary lifestyle and poor dietary habits.

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