Hot flashes, irregular periods, sleep problems, and mood swings oh my!
No, you are not going crazy if you are in your 40's (some women start around 35), it is most likely perimenopause.
Perimenopause is the transition period leading up to menopause, which is defined as the absence of menstruation for 12 consecutive months. Perimenopause can begin in a woman's early 40s (or earlier) and last for several years. During this time, the body begins to produce less estrogen and progesterone, two hormones that play a key role in menstruation and reproduction.
And those fun symptoms listed above are just the tip of the iceberg. Other symptoms can include:
- Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex
- Urinary urgency and incontinence
- Decreased libido
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Joint pain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Brain fog
The fun part is not all women will experience all of these symptoms, and the severity of symptoms can vary from woman to woman. Some women may only experience a few mild symptoms, while others may experience a variety of severe symptoms.
So what's a girl to do?
You can visit your doctor, look for a GYN who specializes in menopause, or a practitioner who specializes in hormones.
But there are a few things to keep in mind...
The symptoms of perimenopause can vary widely from woman to woman, and the timing of onset and duration can also vary. This can make it difficult for doctors to diagnose and treat perimenopause.
Perimenopause has been historically understudied, and there is still much that we do not know about the condition. This lack of research can make it difficult for doctors to provide evidence-based care.
Medical school curricula typically do not include much training on perimenopause or menopause. This can lead to doctors feeling uncomfortable or unprepared to discuss perimenopause with their patients.
So what else can you do to manage this phase in life?
Here are some tips:
Find a community, whether it is your friends or an online support group (there are many great social media groups), find someone to talk to about your experiences, and bounce ideas about what helps off of. Previous generations have been pretty silent on the topic and just suffered alone, but there is no need for that.
Make time for exercise, joint pain and bone loss are no joke. Exercise will not only help you stay mobile and healthy but will also help with some of the weight gain associated with hormonal changes. Make strength training and walking the center of your workouts!
Take a look at your diet, as we age our needs change. Make sure that you are getting enough iron, protein, and fiber. It is a good idea to have your blood work checked to make sure you are not deficient in anything and adjust accordingly. You may find that things like alcohol and caffeine affect you differently now as well, so it may be time to swap that evening glass of wine for a cup of herbal tea.
Try out some supplements, some supplements such as Ashwagandha and Magnesium can help with stress, sleep issues, and joint pain. There are also some good blends formulated for menopause on the market as well that you can try.
Keep a log of your symptoms. This can be helpful when visiting the doctor to discuss your symptoms. I suggest a logbook designed for perimenopause.
This period in life can be trying but it can also be freeing.
I wish you all health and happiness!
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