I’m excited to share my knowledge about perimenopause: I’m in the throes myself, being 46.
by: Chia Chia Sun
I wake up every day, excited about running an impactful business and raising my teens with my loving partner. I do however have to take much better care of myself than before and this is a must, not a nice-to-have, as my hormones change every day.
#1 – Perimenopause starts at age 40 and menopause doesn’t end
I was 43 before I learned that I had been in perimenopause already for 3 years.
What is perimenopause exactly? It’s the period between ages 40 and 50 in which our ovaries start to decline in function, resulting eventually in complete shut-down (menopause).
Perimenopause is characterized by the greatest hormonal fluctuation in a woman’s life. Our ovaries produce our female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) and also testosterone, which is the “libido” or “aggression” hormone. In perimenopause, our female hormones will spike on a monthly basis and decline overall, with mood and physiological fluxes. The “spiking” occurs because our ovaries are still trying to “overcompensate” and push out eggs so that in fact, our estrogen can be even higher than normal while our progesterone decreases. Testosterone production takes longer to decline, resulting in lower libido for many women.
Menopause is never-ending and lasts for the rest of our lives. The taboo around menopause has led to the suppression of very important health facts we need to know and this realization led to the creation of our company, Damiva, which makes Mae by Damiva, a 100% natural vaginal moisturizer, Cleo by Damiva, a 100% natural labial moisturizer, and has a mission to educate and empower women.
#2 – We have an opportunity to retrain ourselves and our loved ones
I’m learning – slowly – to shed the bad habits that kept me going. One of them is that I always run to my loved ones when they call. This is a good trait – and our nurturing hormone progesterone supports it – but as my hormones decline, I am also declining in my ability to be at their beck and call. So I need to “re-train” my family and it’s the right time, given that my teenagers will be out of the nest soon.
Another bad habit of mine is to ignore what my body is telling me. These days, I am more aware of my moods and needs. Around the time of my period, when my progesterone is low, I now have no qualms about telling everyone that they will need to fend for themselves. It’s okay for me to withdraw and focus on energy conservation. This would definitely be difficult if I had young kids and it’s important for women 40+ with younger children that they build in time for themselves.
#3 – Replacing the bad with the good becomes paramount
At home, I have 1 dog, 2 cats, 2 teenagers, ages 14 and 18, a partner, a landscaper, contractors and a housekeeper. At work, I run a women’s health company with full infrastructure – employees, manufacturing, distribution, logistics and marketing – in both Canada and the U.S. It’s crucial for me to be healthy and maintain by cutting down on foods bad for me (alcohol, caffeine and carbs) while increasing supplements and vegetables. These days, I spend more intimate time with my partner instead of accepting every networking or social invitation.
On a daily basis, I take several different type of supplements – magnesium, zinc, ashwaganda, DHEA, vitamins B and D, salmon oil and evening primrose oil. I tailor them almost daily and don’t take them all at the same time. I am most consistent in taking magnesium and zinc as they are important for hormonal health. For the first time in my life, I am supplemented up to my neck! They are necessary for my well-being and productivity.
Do you feel too young for this? I certainly did and sometimes still do. But with menopause around the corner, I’m really prepared. As women, we can do a lot to make the next 40 years the time of our lives.
About the Author
Chia Chia Sun is a pharmaceutical executive turned women’s health entrepreneur. As CEO of Damiva Inc., a women’s health company developing innovative natural products for women 40+, she has dedicated her career to making the last 40 years of a woman’s life happier than the first. Chia Chia has worked as a C-level executive for life sciences companies based in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. In her spare time, she loves to get teased by her teenagers, knit and cook for her partner, and read about taboo-breaking companies.