Perimenopause, or menopause transition, begins several years before menopause. It’s the time when the ovaries gradually begin to make less estrogen. It usually starts in a woman’s 40’s, but can start in her 30’s or even earlier. Perimenopause lasts up until menopause, the point when the ovaries stop releasing eggs. In the last 1 to 2 years of perimenopause, this drop in estrogen speeds up. At this stage, many women have menopause symptoms.
Estrogen and progesterone are antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory. During normal metabolism, the body produces free radicals. If these free radicals are not destroyed by antioxidants, free radical damage may occur to all organ systems. There is an increase risk hypertension, heart disease, brain malfunction such as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, osteoporosis, and even cancer. Healthy adrenal glands (sits on top of the kidneys) also produce estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and DHEA. Women with healthy adrenal glands will make a smooth transition from perimenopause to menopause because the adrenal glands will produce the hormones required and there will be minimal symptoms.
Unfortunately, because of an unhealthy lifestyle, the majority of women will not have healthy adrenal glands in their perimenopausal years and be unable to produce the hormones required to maintain adequate antioxidants and the anti-inflammatory state. If this stage of a woman’s life is not managed appropriately, she now has inadequate antioxidants and is pro-inflammatory. This is a receipt for a poor quality of life and a shorten lifespan.
The inflammation will breakdown the blood-brain barrier which will promote neurodegeneration and all of its associated conditions. The leading cause of osteoporosis is inflammation which increases fracture and potential complications of a fracture. The beneficial nitric oxides (endothelial and neuronal) will decrease and the harmful nitric oxide (inducible) may result in hypertension, heart disease and numerous other vascular problems! Inflammation will produce an imbalance in essential fatty acids which will alter brain hormone signaling and hormone receptor response. Failure of the adrenal glands to respond appropriately may result in abnormal glucose metabolism, type 2 diabetes, hypoglycemia, insomnia, leaky gut, ulcers and numerous other problems.
Sadly, when most women complain to their physician about the symptoms they are having during the perimenopause, the usual response is, “You’re in the perimenopause and the symptoms are normal and there is no treatment!” Do not accept that answer! It is critical that your hormone balance is corrected appropriately and that you remain with adequate antioxidants and in the anti-inflammatory state. This will improve the quality and length of life!
Douglas C. Hall, M.D.