Welcome to Peri-Menopause
If you’re in your 40s, your body has already begun to make changes, even if very slight and barely noticeable, towards the cessation of your childbearing years. Peri-menopause, or “menopause transition,” marks the stage of a woman’s reproductive life that begins 8 to 10 years before menopause, when the ovaries gradually begin to produce less estrogen. It usually starts in a woman’s 40s, but can start in some women in their 30s.
You are in peri-menopause until menopause, the point when the ovaries stop releasing eggs, you have no more menstrual cycles and your childbearing years are over. The 8-10 year transition period is memorialized by any number of the following nerve wracking symptoms:
- Night sweats
- Unusual bloating through the abdominal region
- Insomnia and sleeplessness
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings and irritability
- Adult acne
- Disappearing waistline with weight gain
- Irregular menstrual cycles or spotting
- Loss of sexual desire
- Vaginal dryness and sometimes pain with intercourse
- Difficulty focusing and/or concentrating
- Memory lapses
- Urinary incontinence (most noticeable when laughing, coughing or sneezing)
- Strange new body odors
- Scary bouts of rapid heartbeats
- Increase in facial hair
- Anxiety, panic attacks and/or depression
- Breast tenderness or pain
- Regular headaches (especially noticeable when you’ve never had them before!)
- Aching joints, muscles and tendons
- Bad taste in mouth for no discernible reason (often accompanied by bad breath)
- Digestive problems: nausea, gas, indigestion, acid reflux
- Sensation of itchy “crawling” skin
- Gum problems accompanied by bleeding
- Hair loss, dry hair and thinning hair on head, pubic area and possibly entire body
Why Women Lose Hair During Menopause
Statistics say that approximately 33% of women transitioning through menopause experience at least some hair loss. Hair growth in menopausal women also becomes different as it begins growing more slowly. Studies say this can be attributed to unbalanced levels of the hormones estrogen and testosterone, with the estrogen becoming noticeably lower than the latter. Though women have both estrogen and testosterone in their bodies, what gives women soft skin, full hair and little body hair is an abundance of estrogen. With menopause an increase in testosterone will cause not only hair loss and thinning as men experience, but also hair growth in places you really don’t want to see any hair.
Though some of these symptoms may be alarming, a visit with your medical professional will help guide you through this perfectly normal transition of the female body. With diet modifications, proper exercise, and sometimes hormone replacement therapy (HRT), every menopausal symptom including hormone induced hair loss, can be treated successfully.
Tips for Managing Hair Thinning and Menopausal Hair Loss
Concentrate on eating healthy fresh foods that can help nourish your hair and skin. Food high in zinc and other minerals can be found in whole grains, red meat, dairy, oysters and poultry and help arrest menopausal hair loss. Fresh fruits, vegetables and healthy fats provide food fiber, vitamins and Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats which the body needs for healthy functioning. Include these foods in your diet as much as possible to keep your hair and limit menopausal weight gain.
Use sun protection. The sun will do more damage to your maturing, more delicate menopausal hair and skin. Even if you are African American, use a sunscreen under your moisturizer daily. SPF 15-30 is good for normal everyday wear.
If you live in a warm, sunny climate, wear a protective hat or scarf to protect your hair and scalp from direct UV rays and the heat of the sun.
Moisturize your skin and hair daily. Use body lotion and moisturizers such as aloe vera juice, rose water and shea or cocoa butter to keep your skin healthy. Aging skin loses moisture, and menopause will cause your skin to dry out even more. It is important to keep your whole body moisturized and looking healthy with self-care and proper nutrition.
Nutritional Guidelines for Menopausal Hair Loss
- Get enough calcium. Recommended intake for women 50-71 is 1200 mg per day, which is almost as much as recommended for a pregnant or lactating female of childbearing years! Few women get enough iron or calcium, even though they claim to “eat healthy.” Eating and drinking 2 to 4 servings of calcium-rich foods a day will help ensure that you are getting enough calcium in your daily diet to support tooth and bone health. Yes, calcium is found in dairy products but for those that are lactose intolerant dairy is not an option. Instead opt for surprisingly high sources of calcium available in other foods such as kale, soy milk, okra, steel cut oatmeal, sesame seeds, almonds, salmon, white beans, soybeans, turnip greens, tofu, broccoli, sunflower seeds, fresh oranges, clams, and canned sardines with bones.
- Pump up your iron intake. Eating at least 3 servings of iron-rich foods a day will help ensure that you are getting enough iron in your daily diet. Iron is found in lean red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, leafy green vegetables, nuts and enriched grain products.
- Get enough fiber. Help yourself to foods high in fiber such as whole-grain breads and cereals, whole grain pasta, brown and wild rice, fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Include at least 2 to 4 servings of fruits and 3 to 5 servings of vegetables in your daily diet.
- Read labels. Use the package label information to help you to make the best selections for a healthy lifestyle. This is especially important if you have hypertension, heart disease or diabetes.
- Drink plenty of pure water. Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Lose weight if you are overweight by cutting down on portion sizes and reducing foods high in fat, not by skipping meals. A registered dietitian, certified nutritionist or your doctor can help you determine your ideal body weight.
- Reduce foods high in fat. Fat should provide 30 percent or less of your total daily calories. Also, limit saturated fat to less than 10 percent of your total daily calories. Saturated fat raises cholesterol and increases your risk of heart disease by clogging your veins and arteries with plaque deposits. Saturated fat is found in fatty meats, whole milk, ice cream and cheese. Limit cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams (mg) or less per day.
- Use sugar and salt in moderation. Too much sodium in the diet is linked to high blood pressure. Also, go easy on smoked, salt-cured and charbroiled foods – these foods contain high levels of nitrates, which have been linked to cancer.
- Limit alcohol intake, especially if you are experiencing hot flashes and mood swings. Women experience reduction of symptoms by limiting their consumption of alcohol to one or fewer drinks per day (3 to5 drinks per week maximum).
- Get sufficient Vitamin Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium. Low levels of Vitamin D in women have been linked to an increased risk for breast cancer. Vitamin D also helps the immune, muscle, and nervous systems function properly. Your daily dose of Vitamin D may be found in food such as salmon, shiitake mushrooms, catfish, eggs, sardines, and a good old-fashioned daily dose of sunshine.
About the Author (Author Profile)Blogger, writer, relationships/dating expert, fitness trainer and natural hair enthusiast since 1997. Sharing information from grandmomma, books and scientific journals, as well as my personal discoveries and experiences with natural hair as we journey from relaxers, flat irons and weaves together.
Comments from Facebook