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Perimenopause is the transition in a woman’s reproductive life cycle to full menopause, or the cessation of menses for 12 consecutive months. There is much documented evidence of perimenopuase symptoms suffered by women — including hot flashes, shorter or longer menstrual cycles, lighter or heavier menstrual cycles and insomnia — but there has been little research done to document the relationship between perimenopause and nausea. Some theories suggest that nausea during perimenopause is because of a hormone imbalance as the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone fluctuate during perimenopause.
There are three types of menopause: artificial, premature and natural. Artificial menopause is surgical removal of the reproductive organs, and it precludes perimenopause. Premature menopause includes perimenopause that begins as early as the late 20s or early 30s, culminating in full menopause by the mid-30s or early 40s. Natural menopause includes perimenopuase, which normally begins in the mid-40s to early 50s and can last as long as five to 12 years before full menopause is reached.
Despite the lack of scientific evidence of 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 the morning sickness that is experienced during pregnancy. Regardless of the lack of scientific evidence linking perimenopause and nausea, there has been a growing number of perimenopausal women and alternative and traditional medical practitioners who recommend diet change as a means of symptom control 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 might trick the body into thinking that it has more estrogen than it does, which might alleviate nausea that possibly is 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 for or who have had estrogen-sensitive cancers, because phytoestrogens might increase the risk of occurrence or recurrence of cancer in such women.
Reducing or eliminating so-called “bad fats,” such as trans fats or saturated fats, from one's diet and replacing them with “good fats” such as omega-3 fatty acids also has been suggested as a means to control 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 all ways to increase good fat in the diet. Some women also report that replacing caffeinated beverages with water and unsweetened juices alleviates nausea.
Women who suffer from chronic nausea during perimenopause and who are unable to alleviate perimenopause symptoms through diet management might wish to consult with a physician. A medical examination might be necessary to rule out other, possibly serious, causes of chronic nausea. A physician also might be able to recommend an over-the-counter remedy or prescribe medication that will help reduce or eliminate nausea.