How to Prepare for Menopause in your 30s

November 21, 2023.

medically reviewed by Patricia Shelton MD

The average age of menopause in the United States is around 51. Perimenopause can last for a few years before this, which means that most women start going through peri when they’re in their 40s. This is when you’ll likely begin to notice physical and mental changes related to shifts in your hormone levels.

Many women don’t really start thinking about peri until they find themselves in it. However, there are things you can prepare for menopause before it even starts to help you prepare for a smoother journey through the menopausal transition. Here are a few actions you could consider taking in your 30s to help you prepare for perimenopause.

Part 1: Prepare For Menopause Through Essential Knowledge

  1. Have a talk with your doctor already now! Learn if he or she is a good fit

It’s important to have regular check-ups, to ensure that any health problems are caught early. Make sure you’re going to your doctor at least once a year. They should check your blood pressure, and also order screening blood tests, including a lipid profile (cholesterol and triglyceride levels) and tests of your liver, kidney, and thyroid function.

You may also want to have a conversation with your doctor about peri. This will give you a chance to evaluate their approach to issues that can come up during this time. If you don’t feel that your doctor will be helpful to you as you’re going through peri (for example, if they seem to be dismissive of any concerns), then you can search for a new doctor who’s a better fit for that part of your journey.

  1. Self-Advocacy is power! Learn as much you can about perimenopause

The more you know about what’s coming, the more confident you’ll feel when the process starts. Take the time to educate yourself, so you can be prepared. The Perry community is a fantastic resource, with a lot of information shared by healthcare professionals. For community and meeting others who can share their experiences – join support groups like perry. Another great resource is The Menopause Society’s website (formerly the North American Menopause Society). You can also read books about the topic – two that we recommend are Dr. Jen Gunter’s Menopause Manifesto and Menopocalypse by Amanda Thebe.

  1. Mental Health is no more a stigma – Ask for help if you need it!

If you’re struggling with any aspect of your physical or mental health, it’s a great idea to talk with a health professional about this. For example, maybe you need help quitting smoking, or maybe you’re experiencing anxiety. Many of us tend to put off dealing with our health problems, because we don’t want to make a big deal about them or we feel ashamed to discuss them. However, the sooner you handle those health problems, the better your journey through perimenopause will be. Health professionals are trained to help you, but they can only do that if you let them know what’s going on.

You can also reach out to other women who are already going through peri, or have completed the journey through menopause. They can be a wealth of knowledge and insight about what it’s like, and can give you advice about how to manage it. The Perry community is full of amazing women who would be happy to share more about the journey. The more you know about what peri will be like, the more prepared you’ll feel.

  1. Talk to YOUR people – watch out: your mama might not feel comfortable

Genetics definitely has an impact on a woman’s journey through peri. It’s a great idea to talk to your mom about what her experience was like – when she went through menopause and what she experienced along the way. Talking about these topics can be uncomfortable for some people, and older generations especially tended to keep this information secret, so your mom might not be open to having this conversation. Still, you never know unless you try.

If you have a partner, it’s also a good idea to talk with them about menopause. If you’re partnered with a woman, then the two of you may be going through this journey together, and she might already know a little about the process. If you’re partnered with a man, then chances are that he doesn’t really have a lot of knowledge about menopause and what it’s like. Offer to tell him what you’re learning, so the two of you can support each other as you go through peri.

Part 2: Start Listening To Your Body – even MORE

  1. Track your cycle – even if you think it is regular!

You might already be in the habit of tracking your menstrual cycle, but if you’re not, then this is a great time to start. When you start to notice significant changes in your cycle, you’ll probably know that you’re in peri. Menopause will have officially occurred when it’s been a full year since your last period. It’s important to get in the habit of tracking your cycle, so that you’ll know when these changes occur. You can use an app, a journal (like The Perry Menopause Journal), or just put little marks on your calendar – whatever feels easiest for you.

  1. Pay attention to your sleep already now!

When we’re young, we often don’t really pay attention to how much we’re sleeping. We may feel like we have enough energy to push through being tired, or we just drink caffeine to help us deal. However, as you go through peri, good sleep habits are going to be absolutely crucial. Now is the time to establish solid sleep patterns. Try to have a consistent bedtime and wake-up time (even on weekends!), turn off screens and start a relaxing bedtime routine at least half an hour before sleep, and make your bedroom as dark and quiet as possible. Getting enough high-quality sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health, and it will be a huge help to have these good sleep habits as you’re going through peri.

  1. Learn what stress management techniques work for you. Even if you don’t feel stressed yet

Some of the common symptoms of peri include mood swings and anxiety. Although not everyone experiences these, there’s a good chance that you’ll feel them at some point during your journey through perimenopause. Now is a great time to find the stress management techniques that work best for you. You could try taking walks, yoga, meditation, dancing – whatever helps you to feel more grounded and less stressed. Then you’ll have these techniques in your pocket, to use whenever you need them during peri.

If you already struggle with mental health challenges like anxiety, it might be a good idea to talk to a therapist or counselor about this. They can help you to learn useful coping skills and techniques. Learning these now will help you to deal with the challenges of peri.

  1. Think and talk about sex

Peri can have a significant impact on sex, due to common symptoms like vaginal dryness. To be prepared, it helps to pay attention to your sex life now. Learn about vaginal moisturizers and lubes, and maybe even try out some brands to see what you like. Take the time to learn what pleases you during sex, and to work together with your partner to make sex as satisfying as possible for both of you. If you’re already in touch with your sex life before peri, it’ll be much easier to adjust as you go through the process.  

Part 3: Get Your Body Peri-Ready

  1. Strengthen your bones. Weight training is not only for body-builders!

Estrogen and progesterone are important in maintaining bone density, so it’s not surprising that as levels of these hormones drop, women also experience a drop in bone density. The more you build up your bone density in your younger years, the more prepared your body will be for this decrease.

Bones need the right minerals to get stronger, so it’s important to eat a healthy diet with a variety of foods. Even if you’re getting plenty of healthy minerals through your diet, your body will only deposit them into your bones if you’re stimulating them to do so. What tells bone tissue to get stronger is force – this means that you have to use a bone to make it stronger. 

Weight-bearing exercise can help to strengthen your bones. Lifting weights is generally the best way to help build bone density. Exercises like hopping and jumping, which put stress on the bones, are also good for building bone tissue. Continuing your exercise habit as you go through perimenopause will help to protect you from bone loss.

  1. Drink enough water – obvious, but get in the habit!

Many people don’t drink enough fluids during the day. When you’re going through peri, getting plenty of water can help with a number of challenges you might encounter, including dry skin, hot flashes, fatigue, and brain fog. Developing the habit of drinking enough water now will help to ensure that you’re getting all the water you need as you’re going through peri.

If you don’t like plain water, you can choose sparkling water, herbal tea, or flavored water. Just don’t go for anything sugary, like soda. Sugar can exacerbate the symptoms of peri, not to mention being terrible for your health overall. It’s definitely going to be easier to go through peri without a sugar habit – if you’ve got a sweet tooth, now is the time to work on reducing your sugar, because that tends to be a lot harder when you’re dealing with peri symptoms at the same time.

  1. Eat healthy (sounds obvious, but so important)

A healthy diet can definitely help to manage many of the challenges of peri. Healthy fats can be beneficial for many peri symptoms; these are found in foods like fish, nuts, and avocados. The antioxidants and other nutrients found in fruits and vegetables can also be very beneficial. Working on eating healthier now will ensure that your body is functioning as well as possible before you start peri, so that it’s better able to withstand the changes that occur. Maintaining your healthy diet can also help to manage your peri symptoms.

  1. Quit smoking and minimize alcohol

Both smoking and drinking alcohol can exacerbate peri symptoms. If you smoke, the sooner you quit, the better. This will help to ensure that your body is as healthy as possible before peri starts, and will help you avoid exacerbating your symptoms with cigarettes once you’re going through it. People who smoke also have an increased risk of going through early menopause.

Up to one alcoholic drink per day is generally considered to be healthy, but if you have trouble stopping there or you find that you need that one drink every single day, then you might be better off quitting alcohol completely. Once you’re in perimenopause, avoiding alcohol may help to manage your symptoms, and you don’t want to be in a place where that’s challenging to do.

Sources

Menopause 101 | North American Menopause Society

Effects of Resistance Exercise on Bone Health | Endocrinology and Metabolism

Hormonal Changes During Menopause and the Impact on Fluid Regulation | Reproductive Sciences

The Dynamics of Stress and Fatigue across Menopause: Attractors, Coupling and Resilience | Menopause: the Journal of the North American Menopause Society

Cigarette Smoking and Risk of Early Natural Menopause | American Journal of Epidemiology

Staying Healthy at Menopause and Beyond | North American Menopause Society

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