As a woman approaches menopause, her body starts a natural transition in preparation for the upcoming changes. Unlike our mothers or grandmothers, women today often start peri-menopause when they are in their 30â€™s and can have symptoms until their 50â€™s. (Waterhouse 1998).
Interestingly, in the early 1900â€™s a womanâ€™s life expectancy was between 45-55 years old. Now it is estimated to be 80 plus years, so our bodies have had to adapt to longer lives. (Somers, 2004). Other reasons suggested for the earlier onset of peri-menopause are stress, the trend of having fewer children, and having those children later in life. It is thought for each full term birth a woman has; her menopause is delayed 5 years. Additionally, the use of birth control pills may have created a dependency on hormones from external sources. Since many woman start taking birth control in their teens, it is still unknown how this affects their bodies over time.
The chemical changes occurring in the peri-menopausal body often manifest in symptoms like weight gain, sleeplessness, mood swings, acne, fatigue, and a lack of sexual desire. Suzanne Somers describes it as the â€œseven dwarfs of menopauseâ€: Itchy, Bitchy, Sweaty, Bloaty, Sleepy, Forgetful, and Psycho. (Somers, 2004). Around the age of 40, many women show evidence of bone loss. (Northrup, 2003). So what is happening with the hormones?