What is the connection between perimenopause and nausea?

Perimenopause is the transition in a woman's reproductive life cycle to full menopause, or the cessation of menstruation for 12 consecutive months. There is much documented evidence of perimenopausal symptoms experienced by women, including hot flashes, shorter or longer menstrual cycles, lighter or heavier menstrual cycles, and insomnia, but little research has been done to document the relationship between perimenopause and nausea. Some theories suggest that nausea during perimenopause is due to a hormonal imbalance as the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone fluctuate during perimenopause.

There are three types of menopause: artificial, premature and natural. Artificial menopause is the surgical removal of the reproductive organs and prevents perimenopause. Premature menopause includes perimenopause beginning in your late 20s or 30s, culminating in full menopause in your mid-30s or early 40s. Natural menopause includes perimenopause, which typically begins in your mid-40s and early 50s and can last up to five to 12 years before reaching full menopause.

Despite the lack of scientific evidence for a link between perimenopause and nausea, there is abundant anecdotal evidence pointing to a relationship. Many women who go through early or natural perimenopause report experiencing nausea similar to morning sickness experienced during pregnancy. Regardless of the lack of scientific evidence linking perimenopause and nausea, there has been a growing number of perimenopausal women and traditional and alternative medical professionals recommending dietary change as a means of symptom management when it comes to perimenopause and nausea.

Fruits and vegetables contain phytoestrogens that are similar to the hormone estrogen. Some believe that the phytoestrogens in fruits and vegetables could trick the body into thinking it has more estrogen than it does, which could alleviate nausea possibly caused by fluctuating estrogen levels. As such, increased consumption of fruits and vegetables could help reduce nausea in perimenopausal women. The exception to this would be women who are at risk or who have had estrogen-sensitive cancers, because phytoestrogens may increase the risk of cancer development or recurrence in these women.

Reducing or eliminating so-called "bad fats," such as trans or saturated fats, from the diet and replacing them with "good fats" such as omega-3 fatty acids has also been suggested as a means of managing perimenopause-related nausea . . Replacing corn and vegetable oil in cooking with olive or canola oil, using butter instead of margarine, and avoiding processed foods are ways to increase the good fats in your diet. Some women also report that replacing caffeinated beverages with water and unsweetened juice relieves nausea.

Women who suffer from chronic nausea during perimenopause and who are unable to relieve perimenopausal symptoms through dietary control can consult a doctor. A medical exam may be necessary to rule out other, possibly serious, causes of chronic nausea. A doctor may also recommend an over-the-counter remedy or prescribe medication to help reduce or eliminate nausea.

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