Perimenopause: which of your symptoms signal future risks?

Abstract: Which perimenopause symptoms are risk factors for other diseases, and what can you do to reduce your risk?

As a woman navigating the complexities of life, it’s not uncommon to encounter a veil of silence surrounding the intimate details of women’s health issues. This silence can leave many feeling uncertain and unprepared for what lies ahead, particularly when it comes to perimenopause—the transitional phase leading up to menopause. 

Often, society’s whispers suggest that perimenopause is simply a rough patch to endure, a notion ingrained from a young age. This perspective, however, does a disservice, as it may cause women to dismiss the significant, challenging symptoms of perimenopause as just another part of womanhood.

Such an approach neglects the reality that symptoms commonly associated with perimenopause, such as brain fog, inflammation, sleep disturbances, and increased body fat, are not mere inconveniences. They can signal potential risk factors for developing more serious health conditions that demand attention and care in any other context.

In this blog, our aim is to empower you with the knowledge to identify which perimenopausal symptoms may hint at greater health risks. More importantly, we’ll share insights on how addressing these symptoms can help mitigate such risks. Stay with us as we explore actionable tips and strategies to navigate perimenopause not just with resilience, but with informed confidence, reducing your risk of serious health issues in the process. 

In this article:  

  1. The symptoms of perimenopause 
  2. Which perimenopause symptoms are risk factors for other diseases? 
  3. Treat perimenopause symptoms in your daily life
  4. Supplements to treat perimenopause symptoms 

Perimenopause: Distinguishing symptoms from health red flags

As we age, production of our sex hormones – estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone – gradually decreases. This is a natural part of the aging process in the human female body.  

The steadily decreasing (and fluctuating) levels of these hormones contribute to the sudden appearance of uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptoms of perimenopause

Perimenopause is the oftentimes years-long process leading up to menopause (which is the one year anniversary of your very last period). Perimenopause is the stop-and-start process of your period slowly disappearing, 

Hormone fluctuations control the moods and physical health of women throughout their lives, and perimenopause is no exception. 

Perimenopause often brings about unwanted and uncomfortable symptoms (hot flashes, for example), but the symptoms of perimenopause are more than just a nuisance. 

Some symptoms of perimenopause are risk factors that we associate with very serious diseases like cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. 

You need to know if your symptoms of perimenopause are killing you – and you need to know that you can treat these symptoms to help mitigate your risk of developing serious diseases. 

Which perimenopause symptoms are risk factors for other diseases?

Before we deep dive into three common symptoms of perimenopause that double as risk factors for serious diseases, it’s important to broaden our understanding of the spectrum of perimenopausal symptoms that could be signaling more than just the transition into menopause. 

Here are some conditions and symptoms that can occur during perimenopause due to hormonal fluctuations and the aging process that have been linked to increased risks of chronic disease such as dementia and cardiovascular disease. These include:

  • Glucose intolerance, which can disrupt your body’s ability to effectively use sugar, leading to higher risks of diabetes, dementia, and heart disease.
  • Increased cortisol levels and stress, which can exacerbate not only mental health challenges but also physical health issues, including heart problems.
  • Low levels of vitamin D, a common issue not directly tied to perimenopause but often worsened by factors like decreased outdoor activity, poor gut health and absorption, and the natural aging process is linked with an increased risk of cancer and dementia and poor mental health.
  • Elevated cholesterol levels or blood pressure are critical risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
  • Increased inflammation in the body, which is linked to a host of chronic conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.

Understanding these additional risk factors is crucial as we explore the following three symptoms of perimenopause in more detail.

So, what are some of the symptoms of perimenopause that are also risk factors for developing serious diseases? 

Here are the top 3 symptoms that we want you to be aware of so that you can treat them as they appear.

1. Muscle loss and visceral fat accumulation

Muscle loss, or sarcopenia, is the process of losing muscle mass and muscle strength as we age. Muscle loss occurs progressively after the age of 30 (approximately 3-8% per decade after age 30), when your testosterone levels begin to diminish. Sarcopenia is a form of progressive muscle atrophy, and the primary symptom is muscle weakness.

Visceral fat accumulation is belly fat found deep within your abdominal cavity. Due to loss of estrogen, we see changes in the way fat distributes, resulting in an increase in visceral fat. The accumulation of visceral fats surrounds important organs, like the stomach, liver and intestines, and is more dangerous to your health. 

A combination of muscle loss and visceral fat accumulation can lead to reduced bone density and strain on our hearts – both of which increase our risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. 

2. Changes in gut microbiome

Your gut microbiome is the collection of trillions of microorganisms that live within your intestines, and are believed to have an influence on your overall health, from your mood to your digestive system, all the way to your nervous system and immune function. 

Gut microbiomes include certain bacteria that can produce or stimulate the production of neurotransmitters that send signals to your brain to produce hormones (like serotonin, which is both a neurotransmitter and a hormone). Approximately 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut and approximately 70-80% of immune cells are present in the gut. 

The poor health of your gut microbiome is linked to poor brain health, reduced nutrient absorption, and increased risk of chronic illness and poor immunity. 

The intricate health of your gut microbiome plays a pivotal role far beyond digestion, profoundly influencing overall well-being. The connection between the gut and the brain, often described through the concept of the “gut-brain axis,” underscores how signals travel bi-directionally in this sophisticated network of nerve endings. Connecting the intestinal wall to the brain, the enteric nervous system—comprising 100 million nerve cells lining the gastrointestinal tract—is often referred to as “the little brain.” This extensive communication network facilitates a constant dialogue between the gut and the brain, affecting everything from our mental state to our physical health. Disruptions in the gut microbiome can lead to diminished brain health, poor nutrient absorption, and an increased risk of chronic illness and weakened immunity, highlighting the critical importance of maintaining a healthy and balanced gut ecosystem.

An unhealthy gut microbiome can also lead to increased incidents of insulin sensitivity and glucose intolerance, which puts women at risk of both cognitive decline and the development of diabetes. 

3. Disrupted sleep

Disrupted sleep is the frequent interruption of a good night’s sleep on a regular basis. Seven to eight hours of uninterrupted deep sleep are critical to the health of your body and your brain. Frequent sleep interruptions can have an effect on brain health, physical health, as well as your mood and mental health. 

Poor sleep is a risk factor for the development of dementia in later years, as well as chronic fatigue and low energy, and the development of mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. 

Treat perimenopause symptoms in your daily life

Women and medical professionals routinely brush off these symptoms as merely signs of perimenopause – but they can be so much more. 

Other perimenopause symptoms, such as increased feelings of stress, anxiety, joint pain, inflammation, brain fog, hot flashes (the list goes on), are also factors that can impact the health and happiness of our future.

We believe that women should be embracing and owning these years of their lives. We’re no longer child-rearing, are possibly retired, we’re eager to wind down and enjoy the rest of our lives. 

But we also truly believe that we also need to be doing something to address each risk factor, and not brush them aside as “just symptoms of perimenopause.” 

Here’s what you need to know about treating these symptoms in your daily life. 

1. Embrace a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle 

Research strongly suggests that an inactive lifestyle and unhealthy diet can contribute to the development of muscle loss and the accumulation of visceral fats around the organs. Diet and exercise are therefore the best ways to prevent them! 

Follow a diet that is high in lean proteins, healthy fats, and antioxidants, and low in processed foods and sugar. Exercise by taking a 30 minute (or longer) walk at least once a day, and incorporate weight training  at least 3 times weekly to help maintain muscle mass and bone strength. 

2. Prioritize sleep

Believe us – we know this is easier said than done. But it’s truly worth the effort it takes to ensure you’re getting a healthy, deep sleep for 7-8 hours every night. Two hours before bed you should: 

  • Put away all devices and stop looking at screens
  • Dim the lights to signal to your body it’s time to wind down
  • Don’t snack in the two hours before bedtime 
  • Don’t take more than a few sips of water to avoid nighttime bathroom trips 
  • Invest in a sound machine if you’re a light sleeper to block out background noises
  • Keep your room dark and cool for the best sleep 
  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine and alcohol 
  • Consider supplementing with magnesium or L-theanine to aid relaxation
  • Consider drinking chamomile or valerian tea 

Try to stick to this routine for at least two weeks to get your body into a healthy sleep routine. Then stick to it! 

If you continue to struggle with poor sleep, feelings of chronic fatigue, or insomnia, you should speak to your health provider. Your sleep is important – make it a priority.  

3. Consider Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a method used to treat symptoms of perimenopause and menopause by replacing depleted sex hormones into the body to not only address symptoms such as  fluctuating mood, weight fluctuations, and hot flashes, but also to reduce the risk of developing diseases associated with hormonal loss such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and possibly even Alzheimer’s. 

You should speak to your healthcare provider about your personal history, medical history, and the severity of your menopausal symptoms when considering HRT. 

4. Learn new things

Keep your brain active and healthy by keeping its signals firing as you get older. 

Learning new things by taking a course or reading new material, or engaging in new or challenging activities can help to maintain cognitive health as your brain ages. Your brain plasticity (its ability to learn and grow) can be maintained as you age – as long as you actively train your brain to think and learn on a regular basis. 

Frequent isolation, a sedentary lifestyle, and decreased intellectual stimulation can contribute to a decline in brain health. So, 

  • Keep active, physically and socially 
  • Join groups or clubs to stay engaged 
  • Consider volunteering in your community 
  • Take a new course or read material on a new subject 
  • Invest in brain teasers and trivia games 
  • Start doing puzzles or try new and challenging tasks 

Keep your brain engaged in as many ways as possible, for as long as possible, and help to maintain your brain health into late adulthood. 

5. Consider taking supplements

Supplements that are designed for women’s health can help you to mitigate your risk of developing diseases by treating the symptoms you may be experiencing as you enter the perimenopausal stage of your life. 

Consider taking supplements that are made with ingredients that reduce brain fog, reduce inflammation, improve sleep, and improve gut microbiome to help combat perimenopause symptoms, and mitigate your risk for developing diseases later in life.  

Supplements to treat symptoms of perimenopause 

Revivele is a company created by women for women, with women’s health in mind. Our Essentials supplements were created to benefit women’s brain health and perimenopausal symptoms as we age to increase women’s comfort, and decrease the risk of developing serious diseases, exacerbated by the symptoms of perimenopause. 

To reduce inflammation, improve brain function, reduce sleep disturbance, and repopulate the gut microbiome, we created the Essentials line of women’s supplements.

Join the Health Hub, made for you

Sign up for our upcoming and exclusive Health Hub: an interactive online platform designed to educate and support women regarding women’s health. 

Our Health Hub will feature future-forward services such as lab testing, HRT, telehealth consultations, at-home sleep assessments, and therapeutic tools. Don’t miss out. Sign up now and be one of the first to be notified when our Health Hub goes live! 

Own your health journey

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 women’s health and wellness, and to understand the beneficial effects supplements can have on women’s bodies as we age, follow Dr. Kavita Desai’s women’s health & wellness company, Revivele, on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn!

You can also order Dr. Kavita Desai’s book, Lady Parts: Putting Women’s Health Back Into Women’s Hands

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