Hormonal Upheaval in the Home: Parenting During Perimenopause

Navigating teenage mood swings while your own hormones fluctuate might sound like something out of a movie. 

But, this is an everyday reality for many women in their 30s and 40s who are starting perimenopause while their children hit or transition through puberty

Both puberty and perimenopause are significant milestones in life, driven by intense hormonal fluctuations. These aren’t just subtle shifts; they’re monumental biological changes that can deeply affect mood, energy, sleep, diet and overall well being. 

Yet, not many people openly talk about the combination of these two major biological transitions happening at the same time in the same home. 

Parenting is both rewarding and challenging at all stages – but these simultaneous transitions can lead to household dynamics filled with heightened emotions, misunderstandings and even a lack of support.

So, is it possible to navigate these hormonal waves with smooth sailing? 

The first step is understanding – which is what this article is all about. 

Read this article to learn about: 

  1. The challenges of parenting through perimenopause 
  2. Teenage hormone fluctuations and brain development
  3. Menopausal hormone fluctuations and brain changes
  4. Keeping yourself healthy – for teens and parents 

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide parenting advice – which is deeply personal and unique to each household. This article provides information about the brain and hormonal changes that occur during menopause and puberty, which frequently coincide. If you are struggling with specific behavioural challenges with your teenager, please consult with your family physician or a licensed therapist. 


Challenges of parenting through perimenopause

The journey from puberty to perimenopause is a full circle for women. 

The surge of estrogen during puberty marks the onset of our reproductive years, and its decline during perimenopause signals its end. 

As adolescents we begin to become much more aware and self-conscious about our changing identities. Fast forward to perimenopause, where we find ourselves at another crossroads, redefining ourselves once more. 

However, the journey of perimenopause isn’t simply introspective. 

With it comes very clear physical and emotional changes that can cloud daily life. 

The most common symptoms of perimenopause are: 

  • Irregular periods
  • Painful cramping and heavy flow
  • Headaches 
  • Weight gain 
  • And more 

Any one or all of these symptoms can be frustrating, confusing and challenging for women to face. While, many of these changes are temporary – how long they last varies from woman to woman and, in the meantime, you still have to parent! 

Many women find themselves navigating perimenopause while simultaneously guiding their pre-teens and teenagers through the challenges of adolescence. 

While parenting in all phases can come with its own challenges, they can be intensified when you’re also wrestling with your own hormonal changes. 

So, amidst these intertwining hormonal twists and turns, how can we ease the journey with both ourselves and our children? 

We recommend two steps: 

  • Gain a deeper understanding of the hormonal changes occurring in both your body and your teen’s 
  • Use effective strategies to nurture both yourself and your teenager during this transformative phase 

Let’s start by getting acquainted with the hormone and brain changes your pre-teen or teen might be experiencing. 

Parallel Journeys: Hormonal and brain changes in mom and teens

During perimenopause, there’s a gradual shift in hormone production, which impacts not only the body but the brain’s functionality. 

At the same time, as moms grapple with these changes, their pre-teen and teenage children are also experiencing a stage of rapid brain development. 

Did you know the human brain isn’t fully developed until the mid-to-late twenties?

Here’s a quick summary of some of the big changes you and your pre-teen or teenager may encounter.


Hormone Brain Changes for Mom

Hormone Brain Changes for Pre/Teens

▪️ Estrogen levels are decreasing, resulting in “brain fog” (AKA: confusion, trouble concentrating, etc)

▪️ Decrease in hormone production (irregular periods, heavier flow, worsening cramps)

▪️ Increased fatigue and a need for more sleep through the day

▪️ Increased irritability caused by hormone fluctuations which can affect health, mood and energy levels.

▪️ Onset of body image issues (sudden hair growth or hair loss, weight fluctuations, etc)

▪️ Gray matter volume decreases, leading to decreased memory efficiency and concentration

▪️ Possible onset of depression triggered by menopause (watch for warning signs)

▪️ Prefrontal cortex development: teens begin to develop impulse control and reasoning (AKA: the ability to think before they act)

▪️ Onset of puberty (onset of menstrual cycles OR development of sperm, body hair growth, acne, final growth spurts) 

▪️ Increased fatigue and a need for more sleep through the day

▪️ Increased irritability caused by hormone fluctuations which can affect health, mood and energy levels.

▪️ Onset of body image issues (sudden hair growth, weight fluctuations, etc) 

▪️ Gray matter volume remains the same, other brain matter increases leading to increased self-awareness and critical thinking skills

▪️ Possible onset of depression triggered by puberty (watch for warning signs)

Teenage hormone fluctuations and brain development


What is puberty?

Puberty begins when hormones from the brain trigger changes to body development. It’s known as the phase in which pre-teens and teens begin the physical and mental transition from children to adults. 

Puberty begins between the ages of 8 and 13 for most girls, and between the ages of 9 and 14 for most boys – although it is also possible to begin earlier or later.

In girls, this means that hormones in the brain tell the ovaries to begin making the hormone estrogen – which leads to the growth and release of eggs, as well as the onset of monthly periods. 

In boys, this means that hormones in the brain tell the testicles to make the hormone testosterone, leading to the development of sperm. 

Teenage hormone fluctuations during puberty

For both boys and girls, the development of these new hormones inside the body leads to physical changes, like hair growth and height or weight fluctuations. 

It also comes with changes to mood.

Mood swings and increased irritability are common symptoms of puberty for both boys and girls. 

Important to note: puberty can often come with symptoms of depression in both boys and girls. 

For many parents, watching their child transition through puberty can be a bittersweet experience. You might feel a mix of pride as you witness your child changing into a young adult, while also grappling with worry and concern. There  may even be some grief as your once little-one gains more independence. 

What’s going on in my teenager’s brain?

During puberty, the teenage brain is a landscape of change and development. Here’s a glimpse: 

Due to the changes taking place inside the brain, a teenager’s decision-making skills may not always be sound during this phase. 

The amygdala – which is responsible for immediate reactions such as fear or aggression – is already developed in the teen years. 

The frontal cortex, however – responsible for impulse control and reasoning – is not. 

This imbalance in brain development is why some teens sometimes may act impulsively or take risks that give parents sleepless nights. It’s crucial to understand their cognitive machinery isn’t mature yet. They are still learning how to think before they act. 

According to science, the teenage brain is cognitively, behaviourally and neurologically flexible – which is great, because this helps teenage brains stay flexible and adaptable during a time of transition. 

During this phase, gray matter is adapting. 

Connections in the brain that go largely unused are being discarded, and new connections are being made. These connections help your teen to see and understand the world, themselves, and relationships in new ways. 

These crucial connections are good – but they can feel hard. 

Another aspect to consider is sleep. Contrary to the stereotype that teenagers are always sleeping, the truth is that most teens aren’t getting enough sleep, which can have an impact on mood and mental health, as well as physical health and energy levels. 

Sleep is critical during pre-teen and teenage years, because sleep isn’t just rest – it’s the brain’s prime time for growth and restructuring. 

According to the CDC, kids aged 6-12 should be getting 9 to 12 hours of sleep every twenty-four hours, and kids aged 12-18 should be sleeping for 8 to 10 hours every night. 

And while all of this is going on with your teenager, you, mama, are experiencing your own hormone fluctuations and changes to your brain development.

Menopausal hormone fluctuations and brain changes

While puberty is the sudden onset of hormone creation, perimenopause sits at the opposite end of the spectrum: a sudden decrease in hormone creation. 

While you might think that menopause is a process, it only technically “occurs” on one day of your life: the one-year anniversary of the last day of your last period. 

There are four stages to a woman’s reproductive cycle:  

  • Premenopause, which begins with a woman’s first menstruation during puberty. Premenopause is the time in a woman’s life in which she experiences regular menstrual cycles.
  • Perimenopause, which usually begins in a woman’s mid-late 30s. During this phase, a woman’s estrogen and progesterone levels begin to fluctuate and diminish (read our companion blog to learn more about the symptoms of perimenopause).
  • Menopause, which “occurs” when you have gone without a period for a full 12 months. The anniversary of the last day of your final period is the day you “experience menopause.”
  • Postmenopause, which takes place after menopause. This is the phase that you enter for the remainder of your life. During this phase, many women are at risk of various health conditions, such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and others – though they can also see a decrease in symptoms common during the perimenopause phase.

To learn more about menopause, read this: Demystifying Menopause: Everything You Need to Know.

Estrogen decreases and brain changes

Navigating the teenage years as a parent is not just about understanding our teens’ biological transformations, but equally about recognizing our own as mothers and women. 

As teenagers grapple with their own hormonal and brain changes, moms are on a parallel journey with perimenopause. 

Many of the symptoms of perimenopause that we discussed above are largely due to decreases in the production of estrogen. 

Estrogen isn’t just a reproductive hormone, it’s important to brain health, and the decrease in estrogen production contributes to the “brain fog” and trouble sleeping that we talked about. 

Estrogen stimulates glucose uptake, and it also stimulates physical activity and energy levels in addition to regulating body fat distribution.

Interestingly, as our teens undergo critical brain development during puberty, mothers face an increased risk of developing dementia in later years, and the symptoms of perimenopause (sleep deprivation, changes in energy levels) play a large role. 

If you take one thing away from this article it’s this: This intersection of stages in your home underscore the importance of self-care – both for you and your children. Remember, prioritizing our health isn’t just about being active and present today, it’s about aging well and enjoying long-term vitality. 

For teens and parents: Mastering essential health habits 

Today, many doctors and even therapists are now prioritizing an essential step before dispensing advice or new medications: they check to see if patients are focusing on core health fundamentals. 

Our overall health and vitality hinge upon these basic building blocks of our wellbeing: sleep, diet and exercise. 

Furthermore, sleep, diet and exercise can also help manage the symptoms that come with fluctuating hormones while promoting brain health. 

Let’s talk about how. 

1. Sleep

Sleep is vital to brain health – so you and your teenager should both try to get a lot of it. Women need more sleep than men on average because of hormone fluctuations that impact us monthly. Pre-teens and teenagers require 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night for optimal health. 

Tip: Remember the old advice: “sleep while your baby sleeps”? We’ve come full circle. Sleep while your teenager sleeps, as often as possible. If insomnia keeps you up at night, try taking 20 to 30 minute naps each day so that you’re not over-tired at night. (Don’t go over 30 minutes or you may make the insomnia worse!) 

2. Eating healthy

During both menopause and puberty, eating the right foods can give your body the energy it needs to weather the storm of changes you’re experiencing. 

Tip: Prepare meals for yourself and your teen that include a wide variety of foods, especially fruits and veggies, whole grains, healthy fats like nuts and Omega-3 fatty acids (such as those found in fish), and lean proteins. Consider incorporating supplements into your daily routine. 

The right supplements can enhance your health in a number of different ways, beyond just ensuring your body gets the proper vitamins, nutrients and minerals it needs. Read these 5 reasons why taking supplements is essential

3. Regular exercise 

Daily exercise and movement is important for all bodies. Exercise leads to better brain health, better heart health, and better physical health overall. Exercise is good not only for our bodies, but also for your emotional and mental health

Tip: Go for family walks each night and/or on weekends. Take hikes, go for bicycle rides, and generally keep an active lifestyle. Remember to incorporate strength training which is critical for bone health, balance and even brain power. 

4. Self-care 

Self-care is vital for anyone who wishes to stay healthy and calm, at any time of life. Finding ways to spend time with yourself can be a great way to rest your mind and body. 

Tip: Try finding a form of self-care that you can do together with your teen or pre-teen to nurture the connection between you, and to role-model self-care. 

5. Clear boundaries

Your expectations in the home around how you talk to one another, and how you understand one another, can help you navigate challenging times. 

Tip: Have a clear protocol for where you go when you need to take space from one another. Establish firm limits around how you handle problems, and enforce limits with kindness and understanding. 

Remember, knowledge truly is power. By understanding these intricate shifts in our bodies and actively nurturing ourselves we can better manage any symptoms or wellbeing bumps that may arise. Clear communication stemming from this awareness can help pave the way for a shared understanding. 

While we might wish we could remove every obstacle or difficulty, a smart goal is to cultivate resilience – so that when bumps in the road do occur, we can face them with strength and adapt with ease. 

Learn more about your health by following Revivele 

At Revivele, we believe that every woman should be given the information they need to prioritize their health, advocate for their needs and take action to prevent the development of possible health concerns like dementia.

Not only do we keep up-to-date on the latest scientific research when it comes to women’s health, and brain health, but we are also gearing up to release our new supplement system: Essentials by Revivele.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to maintain your health as you age, read our other blogs, which are full of helpful details, research, and woman-to-woman understanding. We’re all in this together!

To learn more about perimenopause and other women’s health issues, be sure to read Dr. Kavita Desai’s new book, Lady Parts: Putting Women’s Health Back Into Women’s Hands, and follow her women’s health & wellness company, Revivele, on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn!

What to read next: 

Read about the methods to balance your hormones naturally

Get the answer to this question: Are multivitamins scams?

Find out why women are more likely to be affected by insomnia

See why we believe that taking supplements is essential to women’s health.