Why is Perimenopause So Hard? - Lakeside Natural Medicine

Natural Health and Wellness for the Whole Family

Why is Perimenopause So Hard?

ByJoanne Aponte, ND March 28, 2024

Perimenopause is a natural transition and a normal process. But as many of us 40+ women know, it can be a difficult transition. During perimenopause our hormones are changing. First Estrogen levels climb (up to 3 times higher!) and can fluctuate drastically. At the same time we are losing progesterone. As we get closer to menopause, estrogen levels will drop and become low. During all this change and fluctuation there needs to be a  rewiring and reorganization of our brain and nervous system.  In other words, our nervous system and brain need to get used to a new normal. This neurological transition period is what brings on many of the common perimenopause/menopause symptoms – mood issues, sleep problems, trouble coping with stress, cognitive issues and hot flashes.

If perimenopause is normal, why is this neurological transition so hard?

Researchers and doctors think it is because of “Evolutionary Mismatch”. Which basically means that our current environment in which we we live is substantially different from that in which we evolved and as humans. And we have not yet adapted to this modern, industrialized and digitalized way.

These aspects of our modern environment are the ones that work against us when it comes to our hormones:

  • Exposure to environmental toxins – toxicants from our environment are known to alter how our body responds to our hormones. This results in our bodies being less capable at responding and adjusting to the fluctuation and decline of hormones in perimenopause and menopause.  
  • Higher Alcohol consumption – alcohol impairs the body’s ability to metabolize estrogen leading to higher estrogen levels. This is especially a problem in perimenopause because estrogen levels are already on the rise.
  • Problems with the gut microbiome– we eat far less fiber now than our ancestors did. This along with other factors cause imbalances in our gut bacteria. The result is more inflammation in the body, and inflammation is bad for hormones!
  • Modern Food supply– unfortunately our modern food supply is less nutrient dense. Food spends longer time in transit before being consumed and pesticides used on crops deplete nutrient content. This makes it harder to get key nutrients needed for hormone health- zinc, iron and magnesium being most critical.
  • We spend Less time pregnant and breastfeeding – other cultures and older generations that spend more time pregnant and breastfeeding typically have fewer symptoms in perimenopause and menopause.
  • We live more sedentary lives and we move less  our lives now are drastically different from our hunter gather ancestors. They moved far more and spent more time outdoors.
  • Atypical Circadian rhythms – our body’s 24 hour “clock” of waking and sleep, light and dark is easily disrupted in modern life. We stay awake too late at night, have trouble sleeping and might not get any sunlight during the day. All of which throws the natural rhythm of hormones off. Click here to learn more about Circadian rhythm.
  • Long term use of hormonal birth control– Women with a long history of hormonal birth control use tend to have a more difficult perimenopause transition more intense symptoms in menopause.


The Hormone Repair Manual by Lara Briden

The Slow Moon Climbs by Susan P Mattern

Perimenopause as a neurological transition State  – EndoANP lecture by Lara Briden, September 25, 2023

Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.

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