Perimenopause: What You Need to Know

Everything you need to know about menopause's little sister—and how to welcome it with open arms.

Article by Krissy Nevero | February 27, 2023

Everyone’s heard about menopause but have you heard of perimenopause? If you’re a woman 35 or older, there’s a good chance you’re in or approaching perimenopause.

Not sure what it is? You’re not alone. Let’s dive into this less discussed phase of a woman’s life.

What is perimenopause?

Perimenopause is the period of time leading up to menopause when a woman’s body is transitioning from reproductive to non-reproductive.

After puberty, women go through three phases of fertility:

How might perimenopasue impact you?

Hormones are chemical messengers in the body that control, coordinate and regulate essential functions in your body. This can include sleep, mood, weight, sexual function, hunger cues and more. Changes in hormone production and levels can result in imbalances and change how the body signals and communicates and this can impact how your body functions.

For many women this can result in a range of physical and emotional symptoms that can be difficult to manage. These symptoms can include:

The timing, type and intensity of symptoms can vary greatly among women. Some women may feel off starting in their mid to late 30s whereas others may not experience it until their 40s or others may not notice anything at all.

How long can it last?

The process of your ovaries shutting down takes some time and the length of perimenopause can vary. Some women can be in this stage for very short periods of time whereas for others it can continue for 10 years or so.

How do you know if you are in perimenopause?

There is no one test to determine if you are in perimenopause. Typically, it is a gradual transition and is identified by factors such as your age and the symptoms you are experiencing. In some cases, tests may be used to check hormone levels and rule out other possible causes of symptoms.

What can you do about it?

Perimenopause is a natural phase of life so you can’t stop it but your lifestyle choices can play a significant role in how your body experiences symptoms. For example, stress, poor nutrition, lack of exercise and smoking can exacerbate symptoms.

As noted, during this phase of life, your hormones are changing so you may find that routines that worked for you in the past, like diet or exercise, no longer do.

Here are a few lifestyle recommendations that can support you during this perimenopause:

  1. Support your body with stress. For most women, production of progesterone, a feel good hormone that has a calming effect on the body and makes you more resilient to stress, starts to drop in your mid to late 30s. Therefore you may find you’re less resilient to stress than you used to be. Proactively incorporate more stress support activities in your life.
  2. Move your body mindfully. Instead of intense exercise that can increase stress levels, consider more gentle and restorative forms of movement such as walking, yoga, stretching or barre.
  3. Eat balanced meals. Nourish your body with nutrients from real whole foods. Eat protein, healthy fats and fibrous carbs at each meal. This can help keep your blood sugar balanced to better support mood, energy and cravings.
  4. Prioritize sleep. During sleep your body repairs cells, rids itself of toxic waste, metabolizes hormones and restores energy. Sleep is critical to regulating cortisol, your stress hormone. Consider incorporating a sleep routine.
  5. Limit toxin exposure. Our bodies have become inundated with chemicals and toxins that we’re not necessarily equipped to come in contact with. This can put additional stress on the body and can impact how your body functions. Evaluate your toxic load and make changes where you can.

While it may be difficult to realize that you’re not as young as you used to be and your body is changing, I encourage you to consider this period of transition as an opportunity to try different things and prioritize self-care.

Krissy Nevero is a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach based in Sonoma, California. To learn more about Krissy and her services, please visit her website:

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