It was a Friday evening late September 2019, I’d been out to a barre class and was going out to a choir karaoke night. I had to go home, shower, grab a quick bite to eat and then go. I’d told my husband this that morning.
I got home to find he had decided to re grout the tiling in the shower. I could still have a bath but a shower was out of the question. I wanted a shower, that was what I was planning for.
I hit the roof, I was ranting, shouting, screaming, I knew it was disproportionate but I couldn’t stop myself. (I did apologise to husband later). The only time I had ever felt that out of control was as a teenager having a strop, and then it hit me – hormones!
But at that time I was only 43, surely it was too early for hormonal imbalances to be having an effect? I decided to do a bit of research and the term peri menopause kept coming up. What was this? How had I never heard of it?
The definition of peri-menopause from WebMd- Perimenopause, or menopause transition, begins several years before menopause. It’s the time when the ovaries gradually begin to make less estrogen. It usually starts in women’s 40s, but can start in their 30s or even earlier.
So, totally possible that in my early 40’s I could be starting this phase
The list of potential symptoms is huge- not just the stereotypical hot flushes and irregular periods, but mood swings, anxiety, sleep problems in fact the list is endless! My symptoms were generally pretty mild, I was having bouts of quite bad anxiety (magnesium supplements seemed to help this), some mild hot flushes, the occasional mood swings, but I had also noticed my menstrual cycle, which had been as regular as clockwork, was slowing down. The gap between periods had been getting longer and I now hadn’t had a period for 4 months. I only knew this because I had been tracking my cycle and I recommend any woman in their late30’s – into 40’s does this.
Because it seems I was a bit young to be experiencing peri menopausal (I believe anything under 45 is considered young) I decided to see my GP. She was concerned about the drop in oestrogen so early and the implications this can have on cardiac and bone health. She asked me to come back if I didn’t have a period for 6 months and by September 2020 that had happened. She put me on low dose oestrogen and progesterone and so far so good. Can’t say the anxiety has gone completely but we’re living through a pandemic so I’ll reserve judgement on that for the time being! I also know HRT isn’t the best option for all but there are loads of options these days, no one should suffer unnecessarily.
The reason I’ve written this blog is because I knew very little about the peri menopause until I was experiencing it and since I’ve spoken about it I’ve had conversations with many people who knew nothing about it and wondered if their symptoms were connected. My advice for women coming up to this age is:-
- Track your cycle so you can spot any differences
- Download an app like Balance. This will help track your cycle but also make you aware of other possible symptoms. You’ll be amazed at some of the symptoms that can be associated with peri-menopause.
- Speak to your GP sooner rather than later, and if your GP is not that clued up ask to speak to the women’s health or menopause specialist. Every surgery should have one.
- Talk to others about it. Friends, family, online ( there are loads of accounts on Instagram about it and lots of Facebook groups too). Like anything, sharing the load and talking about it helps.
- And if you are not female or menopause age don’t think you don’t need to know about it. We all have women in our lives and therefore it effects us all. It is not just something for middle-aged women to deal with.
What has helped me:-
No rocket science or miracle cures here I’m afraid.
- Maintaining a good varied diet rich in nutrients
- Not drinking as much alcohol
- Exercise – all types, and listening to what my body is saying
- Doing stuff for me – I think this time often coincides with not having kids so reliant on you so indulge you a bit and do stuff for you. I think it also coincides with knowing a bit more how much shit you will tolerate from all areas of life, so trust that instinct too.
- Being kind to yourself. This is a big life milestone, which if you have kids can quite often coincide with their big life milestone of puberty. You will probably both lose your shit at times, but that’s ok and understanding why can be beneficial to all. Give each other space, talk and be honest and above all try and retain a sense of humour about it all.
Those are my thought. Do your research and keep talking about it and I’m always happy to discuss my experience whenever.
Oh and did I get my shower? No, I calmed down, had a bath, went to karaoke and belted out Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston – both of which definitely helped!