The peri-menopause is the preliminary stage of the menopause, the period in time before the final menstrual cycle. In this page, our menopause expert Eileen Durward determines the underlying indicators of the peri-menopause and offers a range of herbal solutions to ease each individual symptom.
As a woman becomes older, there comes a point when production of the female hormones driving the menstrual cycle starts to decline. This process means that eventually, no more eggs will be released by the ovaries each month - it is Nature’s way of saying that, at this age, the woman is less likely to carry a healthy baby and that her reproductive life should come to an end.
Typically, this process begins in the mid-forties and as hormones fall, an imbalance between oestrogen and progesterone can occur.
Menstrual periods become irregular, heavier or more uncomfortable. Other physical and psychological symptoms may be experienced – some women may describe these as being similar to PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome).
As the peri-menopause is a normal stage a woman has to go through in life, many prefer to treat symptoms experienced using natural medicines. A number of herbs which can be of help:
Agnus castus. Also known as Chasteberry, this is the herb of choice if symptoms start after ovulation and disappear once menstrual bleeding starts, just as you might expect with PMS (premenstrual syndrome). It can be very useful if you have a number of symptoms and can also help painful periods and breast tenderness
Avena sativa. This is the plant we commonly know as Oats. However, instead of the seed or fruit, it is the leaves and stems of the oat plant which are used medicinally. It helps to relieve mild stress and anxiety
St. John’s wort. This has a long tradition of use to help lift the mood of those who are prone to mood swings or feeling a bit down and sad
Sage. Extracts of sage are now known to have the specific ability to relieve hot flushes and sweats. It can be used at all stages of the menopause
Arnica. This herb is well known for its ability to help with bruising, but also has pain relieving properties. It is useful if you suffer from neck and shoulder pain, muscle aches and joint stiffness
Devil’s Claw. This plant grows only in the Kalahari and has a long tradition of use in treating joint pain and backache.
In general, doctors will be reluctant to use prescription medicines for the peri-menopausal. However, if symptoms are severe and starting to interfere with quality of life, a number of classes of medicine may be suggested.
You won’t get the menopause the minute you turn 50! The average starting age is actually between 45 and 55 and it can often depend on a number of factors including hereditary, weight and health, however every single woman will have an individual menopause.