You’d think I’d be all over this peri-menopause thing given I’m..…ahem…almost 50 but to be honest, like many things, I know about it intellectually, but hadn't quite contextualised into thinking it was and is actually happening to me. Which really is pretty odd given I see women in their mid-forties in my clinic everyday. I kind of missed the cues.
So, given this epiphany and the fact that I actually help women over forty cope with the physical signs and symptoms of this inevitable end of their reproductive years, I thought maybe I could help share my knowledge through my own lense and experience.
Women will typically hit peri-menopause in their mid-forties
The purpose of this blog series is more of a commentary with some education thrown in along the way. It’s based on my personal perspective and therefore does not necessarily account for your own experiences and circumstances.
Remember. Every woman is different and will have their own experience - there is not right or wrong.
In this series I will be sharing with you some insights into how to support through plant medicine (herbs), nutrition and lifestyle.
Like with any health condition, you must seek advice from your own healthcare practitioner – or see me as a patient. Steer clear of Dr Google and if you insist on doing your own research then check out journals and articles through Google Scholar. Check your sources are reputable.
To begin, both peri-menopause and menopause are transitional phases that indicate an end to your reproductive years. We spend our pubescent years gearing up for having children (and for many women this comes to fruition) and spend the latter part of our life gearing down from having children.
The fact is, many women do not identify themselves as peri-menopausal until symptoms or physiological changes, such as menstrual irregularity, occurs.
With that I hasten to say, comes not only the physical shift of hormones but an emotional shift as well – some mood related symptoms are as a result of changing hormones but for others, it’s also because of what it represents.
Some women welcome “the change” as it has been phrased and others grieve the loss of what makes them feel, well, female. Whatever it represents for you is valid, it's important and just because it happens to all women (albeit at different ages and stages, naturally or unnaturally), doesn’t mean it’s easy.
So, whether you have or have not decided, or have been able or have not been able to bear children, the realisation that your body is undergoing another change that is outside of your control, might catch you a bit off guard – just like me.
Without going into my reproductive history too much, in brief, I had horrendous debilitating period pain as a child and young adult to the point of requiring pain relief via an injection (say what??!), I have two sons, am a professional working mum over forty and am in the midst of peri-menopause that up until now, I thought was stress related …..such as night sweats, sleep disturbances and a depressed mood.
During peri- and menopause considerations and recommendations need to be given to areas of
§ Neurological: mood
§ Immunological: anti-oxidant and immune system
§ Gastroenterological: inflammation and absorption of nutrients
§ Hormonal: female hormones, cortisol and adrenal
§ Structural: nourish, fuel and protect cell function and integrity
§ Lifestyle: weight bearing exercise; movement; nutrition; relaxation
The good news is that there’s treatment options to help you manage your symptoms – and I’ll be focusing more on the natural medicine side but will touch on the pharmaceutical options as well.
The bad news is that it’s quite likely that you will experience one or more of the following common symptoms which could last for several years, and there are some risk factors for a number of conditions associated with the onset of menopause.
Symptoms may include:-
§ Night sweats (changing jimmy-jams during the night)
§ Hot flashes (a transient warming sensation with beads of sweat on your upper lip or a creeping redness of the skin)
§ Sleep disturbances (tossing and turning restlessness)
§ Hair loss
§ Cognitive changes (losing clarity)
§ Increased facial hair
§ Atrophic vaginitis (leading to uncomfortable sexy-time)
§ Increased visceral fat (ie muffin top)
§ Loss of muscle mass
§ Brain fog
§ Urinary leakages
§ Joint pain
§ Depressive symptoms
§ Mood swings
§ Diminished libido
§ Severe tiredness and fatigue
§ Increased urinary tract infections
§ Irregular bleeding
Risks may include
§ Osteoporosis - loss of bone density
§ Breast cancer
§ Cardiovascular disease – can be modified through diet and lifestyle
So, brace yourself. Equip yourself with some knowledge and awareness. Let those around you know that if you don’t seem to be yourself that you can’t quite help it and that you might need a bit of support and understanding.
Talk to your partner who may have absolutely no idea what you’re carrying on about and who is wondering who the hot and bothered, irritated, tired and depressed imposter is that’s taken over you.
Welcome to peri-menopause. Who's in?