Perimenopause. The early onset of, the timing of and/or what is peri-menopause… so many questions so little time! We hand it over to TCM Doctor Lauren Curtain to discuss perimenopause from a TCM perceptive.
“Perimenopause is the years before menopause fully begins. Menopause is defined as the 12-month period of time after the last menstrual period. Whereas perimenopause is the years leading into menopause and typically when symptoms can be at their highest for a lot of women. Perimenopause is often referred to as ‘second puberty’. If you remember what puberty was like as a teenager, all those symptoms were as a result of your reproductive system coming online and maturing. Perimenopause is the closing of that circle, the reproductive system is slowing down, reproductive hormones are transitioning to stopping completely. It is the transition phase into menopause stage.
The average age for menopause is 51 although the normal age range can reach from 45-55 and be perfectly healthy. Perimenopause gradually begins from around 35 yrs old. This is when hormones begin to change, with emphasis on the gradual, any sudden changes to hormonal balance or menstrual cycles always warrant investigation.
As a Chinese medicine practitioner, I often work with young women who have been diagnosed with ‘early menopause’. Their cycles will typically be irregular or absent altogether (amenorrhoea) and their FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) will be elevated. A lackluster analysis may deem this as ‘premenopausal’ as our FSH does rise in perimenopause, however this is not what should be happening for a young woman, so it indicates a pattern of imbalance. This is a huge sign and invitation to dig deeper into your health and request a thorough analysis from an integrative practitioner specialising in women’s health, and of course, your Chinese medicine practitioner. A team effort is best utilised in situations like this. There can be many different factors that can create a hormonal presentation that may look like ‘early menopause’ in women from undiagnosed auto-immune conditions to thyroid issues, but a running theme I observe with my patients is a history of stress/trauma. From a Chinese medicine perspective, this makes complete sense in our framework, as severe stress, chronic stress or severe shock will impact the functioning of some of the main organ systems involved with reproduction, the Liver, the Heart and the Kidney. Addressing stress in any stage of our reproductive life is always beneficial for long term hormonal health and assists in the transition to menopause when the time comes”.
Yours in knowledge,
Traditional Chinese Restoratives