From irregular periods and hot flashes, to insomnia and reduced libido, to mood swings and weight gain, perimenopause can be a difficult time for women. It can be overwhelming and frustrating, and leave you feeling as though you’re on an emotional rollercoaster you have zero control over. The good news is that you’re not alone. Many women have walked through this difficult season before you, and the internet is filled with natural remedies for perimenopause to help make the transition a little easier.
Here are 18 of our best natural remedies for perimenopause mood swings and weight gain to help you feel more in control of yourself and your body.
What is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause is the period of time leading up to menopause in which a woman’s ovaries begin making less estrogen. Also know as ‘the menopause transition’, perimenopause usually starts when a woman is in her 40s and lasts about 4 years, but the experience is often very different from one woman to the next. Some begin perimenopause in their 30s, while others begin the transition much later. The number and severity of symptoms varies, and can last from a few months to 10 years.
When Does Perimenopause Start and Stop?
Research suggests that perimenopause typically starts when a woman is in her 40s and continues for 4 years, but cautions that every woman’s experience with perimenopause tends to be quite different. Some begin noticing the telltale symptoms of perimenopause – irregular periods, hot flashes, trouble sleeping, vaginal dryness, and mood swings – in their 30s, while others don’t notice any changes to their menstrual cycle until their 40s. Perimenopause symptoms may only last a few months for some women, but can persist for up to 10 years in others.
When a woman has gone through 12 consecutive months without a period, she has officially entered menopause, and perimenopause has come to an end.
What Are the Signs of Perimenopause?
As mentioned earlier, every woman experiences perimenopause differently. While some women struggle with every single symptom, others may breeze through with very little discomfort. Many of the symptoms mimic those of other health conditions, so it’s important to consult with a licensed health care practitioner at the onset of perimenopause symptoms to rule out other reasons for concern.
Here are some signs you may be entering perimenopause:
- Irregular periods*
- Heavier than normal periods**
- Hot flashes
- Irritability and mood swings
- Vaginal dryness
- Low libido
- Difficulty sleeping
- Urine urgency and incontinence
*It’s important to note that even though your body is producing less estrogen and your periods are irregular, you can still get pregnant, so be sure to continue using birth control to prevent an unwanted pregnancy during this time.
**Heavier than normal bleeding during your period can be a sign of another medical condition, so always discuss changes in your period with your doctor.
9 Natural Remedies for Perimenopause Mood Swings
For some women, mood swings are the first indication they are entering perimenopause. As the ovaries begin producing less estrogen, women may find themselves becoming more easily annoyed by things that wouldn’t have bothered them as much in the past. Feelings of anxiety, stress, tension, and worry also tend to be more pronounced during this time, and many women experience crying episodes during perimenopause.
Feelings of depression are another common – and more serious – side effect of perimenopause.
If you are experiencing one or many of these symptoms of perimenopause, it’s important to speak with your doctor to ensure you are getting the right treatment for your individual symptoms. Medication is available, and while you may prefer natural remedies for perimenopause, be sure to discuss the pros and cons with your doctor first.
Here are 9 natural remedies for perimenopause that are known to reduce the mood symptoms of perimenopause.
1) DIETARY CHANGES. There’s no denying the fact that the foods we put into our bodies have a huge impact on how we feel, and a lot of the online literature about natural remedies for perimenopause mood swings suggests that dietary changes are effective in managing symptoms of irritability, anxiety, and depression. I recommend consulting with a licensed physician and/or naturopath before making dietary changes, but the general consensus is that you should avoid packaged and processed foods and opt for a diet rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids (think: fish, nuts, seeds, plant oils, fortified foods like eggs, milk, and yogurt).
2) REGULAR EXERCISE. When you’re physically active, your brain produces feel-good endorphins, which can have a positive impact on your mental well-being. Regular exercise also helps reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, and helps you work through and put your problems into perspective. If you’re looking for natural remedies for perimenopause mood swings, commit to 30 minutes of physical activity each day and see if you notice a difference. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
3) VITAMIN D. Vitamin D is known to prevent heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer, and weight gain, and can also have a positive impact on our mood. Many of us are deficient in Vitamin D, and it’s particularly important for peri- and postmenopausal women to ensure they are getting enough Vitamin D to help moderate their symptoms.
4) YOGA, MEDITATION, AND MINDFULNESS. All 3 of these activities can help calm your mind, reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, and help with mood regulation. Meditation and mindful breathing can also help with hot flashes. Consider trying a yoga class at your local studio, download a meditation app to your smartphone (I highly recommend Headspace!), and practice mindful breathing to see which ones are most helpful to you.
5) LIMIT ALCOHOL. While a glass (or 2) of wine may help you relax at the end of a tough day, alcohol can actually make the symptoms of perimenopause worse. Alcohol consumption raises your internal body temperature, and can lead to an increase in hot flashes and night sweats. It can also interfere with sleep, and trigger or worsen feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression.
6) PRACTICE GRATITUDE. While not among the more traditional natural remedies for perimenopause, engaging in regular gratitude work can have a huge impact on your mood and emotional well-being. Rachel Hollis once said, ‘It’s impossible to feel anxiety and gratitude simultaneously. It’s impossible to feel fear and gratitude simultaneously. It’s impossible to feel anger and gratitude simultaneously. Fight negative emotion with gratitude!’ And while keeping a gratitude journal won’t treat the hormonal imbalances that perimenopause brings, it can go a long way in helping you focus on the positives rather than the negatives.
If you’re new to this idea and willing to give it a shot, the Five Minute Journal may be a great option for you. This journal helps you focus your attention on the good in your life, cultivating gratitude and improving your mental well-being. It provides you with a simple structure that only takes five minutes to fill out, combining the proven elements of positive psychology so you can reflect and evaluate as you start and end your day.
7) CONSIDER HERBS AND SUPPLEMENTS. I’m always weary when it comes to recommending herbs and supplements as I really feel you should only add these to your daily regime under the advice and supervision of a licensed naturopath or medical practitioner. With that said, there is a lot of great literature online suggesting that certain herbs and supplements are effective natural remedies for perimenopause mood swings. Ginseng has been show to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, St. John’s Wort is known for its positive impact on feelings of depression, and Black Cohosh is helpful for hot flashes and night sweats.
8) TRY ACUPUNCTURE. Another option for those searching for natural remedies for perimenopause, acupuncture has been shown to treat hormonal imbalances and reduce symptoms of mood swings, including irritability, headaches, and insomnia.
9) COMMIT TO THERAPY. Sometimes diet, exercise, yoga, and gratitude just isn’t enough, and if you’re struggling with the symptoms of periomenopause, seeking the help of a licensed therapist is nothing to be ashamed of. While it can feel uncomfortable at first, you will not only uncover the things that trigger your mood swings, but also find effective strategies to help you cope.
9 Natural Remedies for Perimenopause Weight Gain
As if mood swings, hot flashes, insomnia, and changes in your sex drive aren’t enough, periomenopause can also cause weight gain, particularly around your abdomen, hips, and thighs. Falling estrogen levels can cause insulin sensitivity, which can make your blood sugar levels more prone to spiking and crashing, making you crave high carb, sugary snacks. Our metabolism also slows down as we age, and some research suggests that peri- and postmenopausal women burn up to 300 fewer calories per day compared to when they were in their early 20s.
The good news is that weight gain doesn’t need to be an inevitable part of a woman’s peri- and postmenopausal life. Here are 9 natural remedies for perimenopause weight gain.
1) THINK: CALORIES IN VERSUS CALORIES OUT. When it comes to losing weight, the whole calories in versus calories out idea is nothing new, but since peri- and postmenopausal women tend to burn fewer calories than they did when they were younger, it’s particularly important part of weight loss in your 40s and beyond. If you’re looking for natural remedies for perimenopause weight gain, I suggest keeping a food journal for a period of time so you can get a better handle on how much you’re consuming each day. I also highly recommend investing in a fitness tracker so you can determine if you are burning more calories than you are consuming. I have tried several fitness trackers over the years, and the Fitbit Charge 3 is by far my favorite.
2) REDUCE CONSUMPTION OF REFINED CARBS. Cutting back on refined carbs – foods like cookies, cakes, pastries, candies, fast foods, breaded or battered foods, sugary cereals, pastas, bagels, and pizza – has many health benefits, especially when it comes to avoiding perimenopause weight gain. Refined carbs are absorbed into the bloodstream quickly, causing spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels, which can perpetuate cravings for high carb, sugary snacks. Cut back on these foods as much as you can.
3) INCREASE YOUR FIBER INTAKE. Consuming adequate fiber is a great way to manage your weight in your peri- and postmenopausal years. You should be eating at least 25 grams of fiber a day to reap the benefits. Fiber helps with your digestive health, disease prevention, weight control, and foods high in fiber help you feel full for longer. To increase your fiber, eat foods such as lentils, black beans, peas, broccoli, raspberries, pears and oatmeal.
4) MONITOR YOUR PORTION SIZES. Meal portions in North American are getting bigger and bigger, and if we’re not careful, our households are going to massively overeat. This is especially dangerous for women over 40 since your metabolism is slowing down and your body uses fewer calories to get through daily activities. Get into the habit of meal prepping using portion control containers, drink a glass of water before each meal, eat slowly and without distraction to help you recognize feelings of fullness, request a half portion size when dining in restaurants, and never eat foods straight from their packaging.
5) LIMIT LIQUID CALORIES. If you have a tendency to indulge in a mid-morning latte, enjoy a soda in the afternoon, and/or pour yourself a glass of white when your kids are in bed for the night, I strongly urge you to stop. Liquid calories such as these offer absolutely no nutritional value to your diet, and will do nothing but hold you back from reaching your weight loss goals. Alcohol in particular can lower your inhibitions and make you more prone to snack in the evenings, and can also worsen night sweats and cause interrupted sleep.
6) INCREASE YOUR CARDIOVASCULAR EXERCISE. While diet is undeniably the most important factor when it comes to managing your perimenopausal weight, engaging in 30 minutes of cardio three times per week helps you burn fat and calories. It can also help you manage feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, and offers a whole host of other health benefits, making it one of the most effective natural remedies for perimenopause weight gain.
7) COMMIT TO STRENGTH TRAINING. While many women believe cardio is the best and only thing she should do to lose weight, strength training is also important for optimal health and a lean body. Strength training, such as bodyweight exercises, is one of the best things you can do to lose weight during your peri- and postmenopause years. Along with weight loss, incorporating regular strength training into your weekly exercise regime will help increase your muscle mass, increase your metabolism, give you more energy, and improve your quality of sleep – all of which can help keep symptoms of perimenopause in check.
8) SLEEP MORE. Quality sleep is an essential part of your overall health, both physically and mentally. Ongoing sleep deprivation can lead to issues such as heart disease, kidney disease, high blood sugar, anxiety, diabetes, stroke, and weight gain. Not everyone realizes the importance of quality sleep, but it’s just as crucial as exercise and healthy eating. Of course, one of the symptoms of perimenopause is sleep disturbances, so even if you’re committed to improving the length and quality of your sleep, your body may not cooperate. If this sounds like you, we’ve written an entire post about insomnia with tips for a better night’s rest.
9) MANAGE STRESS. If you’re looking for natural remedies for perimenopause weight gain and mood swings, stress management is key. Chronic stress can cause high levels of cortisol – the hormone responsible for controlling our blood sugar levels, regulating our metabolism, and reducing inflammation in the body. Also know as the ‘stress hormone’, high levels of cortisol due to chronic feelings of stress can lead to a whole host of issues, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and weight gain. Yoga, meditation, mindful breathing, regular exercise, and therapy are all great ways to keep your stress, cortisol levels, and weight under control.
Perimenopause can be a difficult time for women. From irregular periods and hot flashes, to insomnia and reduced libido, to mood swings and weight gain, it can be extremely overwhelming and frustrating, leaving you feeling as though you’re on an emotional rollercoaster you have zero control over.
I hope these natural remedies for perimenopause help make the transition a little easier.
Remember to eat a healthy diet, to exercise regularly, to keep stress under control, and to give yourself grace, and if your symptoms become too difficult for you to handle, never, ever, feel ashamed to ask for help.