Perimenopause is a midlife transition for women and although it is viewed as a reproductive transition with the cessation of reproduction, the symptoms are largely related to adjustments to the nervous system. Read on for more if your thinking:  menopause symptoms, what can I do?

Neurological Perimenopause symptoms

Neurological symptoms experienced include:

  • temperature regulation (hello hot flushes and night sweats),
  • sleep disturbances including mid sleep waking
  • pain
  • migraines
  • cognitive dysfunction (brain fog) and
  • sensory processing (perhaps a liitle more anxious?).

There are a few phases in life when the neurological system goes through a conversion from one developmental state to another.  Most people are aware of this through early childhood and puberty and perimenopause is another time this occurs.

This means perimenopause is an important time to make sure you are in the best health as this time can be considered a tipping point.  Being healthy as you go through this neurological transition guides you through the recalibration to long-term health.  Alternatively, smaller problems can amplify into bigger problems and this is when the risk of dementia, autoimmune disease, mental health conditions, osteoporosis and heart disease can increase.   Most women transition through this period without long-term adverse effects; however, a proportion of women emerge from the transition with an increased risk of neurological decline.

During this period there is also a decline in the metabolism of glucose in the brain, disrupting an energy source for the brain.

Neuroimaging studies have shown substantial differences in brain structure, connectivity and energy metabolism across pre-menopause, menopause and post menopause. Post menopause, brain biomarkers stabilise and grey matter volume is recovered in regions important for cognitive ageing.

The disruption of the energy source is temporary as the brain and the body adjust by

  • altering metabolism to be better at burning fat ( for Metabolic Balance clients, this is one of the aims during the first two weeks).
  • adjusting estrogen receptors
  • recalibrating the stress response to adjust to decreased progesterone as progesterone is calming and nourishing. Lower progesterone during perimenopause has been linked with an increase in perceived stress and a greater risk of anxiety and depression.

The good news is these neurological perimenopause symptoms are temporary.  Many women find themselves calmer and more confident in the following menopause phase.

What is the cause of my symptoms?

Symptoms of menopause are not unavoidable, women from the Hadza, a hunter gatherer Tanzanian ethnic group report no symptoms.  One aspect that plays a part in menopause symptoms is our current lifestyle is far removed from the lifestyle of our ancestors and we have not evolved to cater for this evolutionary discrepancy – we have an evolutionary mismatch (symptoms and disease risks from living in an environment that differs substantially from that in which we evolved).  If you’re interesting in reading more about this see my blog.

Contributing factors include:

  • alcohol
  • toxins, the level of toxins in our environment and bodies is increasing
  • circadian rhythm – late nights, lack of exposure to sunlight and use of screens in the evening
  • movement – many people have jobs that require them to remain seated for a large portion of the workday
  • microbiome – our microbiome is impacted by what we eat, toxins, pathogens
  • food – increase prevalence of insulin resistance
  • less time pregnant and breastfeeding

What can I do?

What can you do to ease the symptoms of menopause and commence on the path to longer term health?

  • Soothe your nervous system
  • reduce or quit alcohol
  • build muscle and increase movement
  • improve nutrient status with personalised supplements
  • address blood sugar imbalance and insulin resistance.

Would you like to be pro-active through menopause and tip the scales in your favour towards better long term health?  Book in for a clarity call and we can discuss your personal circumstances and how I can support you through your menopause transition.

Thanks to Lara Briden and her at presentation the Metagenics Well Woman Congress 2023 on this topic which inspired me to write this blog.