Last night I was surrounded by a room of wonderful women who are talking about perimenopause. Some might say it’s the pits and others might not even be aware they’re in it. Lucky them! Of all the things we often talk about regarding symptoms and resources, we rarely talk about the impact of perimenopause on fertility.
As someone who had several miscarriages (but got one great kiddo out of the deal), I can say that I believe that if I had known I was in perimenopause…
If I had known that there was SUCH A THING as perimenopause, I think my journey would have been different. Given that our medical professionals are not trained in treatments of perimenopause to post-menopause, it’s fair to assume that this plays a part in any fertility struggles women encounter as they venture to have children later in life like I did.
I have learned so much since I learned what perimenopause was. And by the time I learned it, I was literally a year away from menopause (my last period ever). I am not the expert – I am the finder of experts, the seeker of information and the sharer of evidence-based information. It breaks my heart to see women struggle to get pregnant. I remember those days too well. They were lonely, hopeless at times and I had to struggle not to fall into a deep depression.
So, how does perimenopause play a role in our fertility journey?
Picture this: Hormones start causing a ruckus during perimenopause, but you can’t always feel it. Estrogen and progesterone, the duo responsible for regulating our menstrual cycles and supporting pregnancy, decide to shake things up a bit. But again, you don’t feel it, so you don’t know it’s happening.
The Good News: Despite the hormonal shake up, many women can still conceive during perimenopause. It's just not as easy as being 20 and getting knocked up in the back of a Chevy.
However, knowledge is power. A recent stat report that by 40, women have a 3 in 5 chance of conceiving. It’s possible but it’s just not as easy.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Irregular Cycles: Perimenopause loves surprises, especially when it comes to our menstrual cycles. One month it's fashionably early, the next it's fashionably late. Track ovulation clues like body temperature and cervical mucus to up your chances. You’ll likely need help from your healthcare practitioner on this.
- Egg Quality: Like everything else, our eggs age too. As we gracefully advance through perimenopause, the quality of our eggs might take a dip. Focus on a healthy lifestyle—good nutrition, exercise, and stress management—to keep those eggs feeling young and spry.
- Consult the Experts: A chat with your gynecologist or fertility specialist can be a game-changer. See note above. If you are struggling, you might want to add more resources to your healthcare team. Given that perimenopause is still a mystery to some, you might want to explore other options that might help like acupuncture or a naturopath. Whatever works!
Most Importantly: This isn't a one-size-fits-all scenario. Each woman's body is unique, and there's no shame in seeking support or exploring alternative paths like fertility treatments. It's about finding what feels right for you.
Remember, this is a chapter in our journey, not the entire story. Try to embrace the changes, stay informed, and always ask questions! It’s a tough journey but it’s one that I’m not sorry I struggled through. For me, the payoff was worth every tear.