Thanks to so many great women who are speaking about menopause, it’s finally getting the attention it deserves. It’s time we realize that we’re part of a 100% club and menopause isn’t the end of the road. In fact, it’s the beginning of an exciting new chapter free of tampons, stained undies and all the other fun we experienced with ‘Aunt Flow’ during our teens to now.
And if you still feel alone, check out this segment on CBC. Menopause is ‘having a moment’ and it’s about damn time! Some of these amazing people have been on the She2.0 podcast. You’re in good hands!
But wait, there’s more!
However, what’s with this perimenopause nonsense? Perimenopause is the no-man’s land between your full out period and menopause. It’s sort of like the ‘come here, go away’ of the reproductive health world. This is when things start to become questionable. Am I pregnant or peri? Wait, when’s the last time I had sex? Oh right, it’s been a while because I haven’t felt like it. So, when exactly was that period? Why are my boobs sore? Am I pregnant? (See previous comment). Why am I so ragey when I’m nowhere near my period? Speaking of which, my periods are all over the ice. They used to be consistent. Why am I breaking out like a teen?
Perimenopause might sound like a drag but when you think about it, it’s actually a great opportunity to take charge of your health and get things in tip top order for when you reach the final day of your period. Some of us were given advice on things to do to make childbirth easier. Well, consider this the time where you get great advice to make menopause smooth sailing.
Here are some of the top symptoms, although there are many more less common symptoms but it’s worth reading up on them. Some womxn say they don’t experience any symptoms. Like the womxn who sneeze and instantly give birth, the same advice applies – keep it to yourself!
- Love your heart! Declining estrogen levels increase changes in your blood cholesterol levels. This can lead to cardiac disease and worse. For the love of all things hormonal, please get your cholesterol checked! This is the reason cardiac disease is the number one killer of women over 50.
- Period MIA.The old egg delivery system becomes more unpredictable for many women. That means the length of time between periods may be longer or shorter, your flow might be light to heavy, and you may skip some periods leading to needless dollars spent on EPT tests. If you have a persistent change of seven days or more in the length of your menstrual cycle, you could be peri. If you have a space of 60 days or more between periods, you're likely in late perimenopause. You’re now part of the ‘club’. Welcome.
- Hot flashes and sleepless nights.Hot flashes are common, and their intensity, length and frequency can vary. Sleep problems are often due to hot flashes or night sweats, but sometimes sleep becomes unpredictable even without them. This is a good time to get your adrenal gland and thyroid checked.
- Moody, moody, moody! Mood swings, irritability or increased risk of depression may happen during perimenopause. The cause of these symptoms may be sleep disruption associated with hot flashes. If you find yourself intolerant of your partner, extended family, people on tv or inanimate objects, this could be peri rage.
- Dry vagina and wet knickers. When estrogen levels diminish, your vaginal tissues can lose lubrication and elasticity. This makes sex painful and it quickly gets removed from the ‘me time’ list and added to the list of chores instead. Low estrogen leaves you more vulnerable to urinary or vaginal infections. Loss of tissue tone may contribute to urinary incontinence. Please remember that peeing your pants might be common in North America, but it is not ‘normal’. There are several things you can do to help. Like listen to the “How not to pee your pants” episode of the She2.0 podcast.
- Fertility issues. As ovulation becomes irregular, your ability to conceive decreases. However, if you're having periods, pregnancy is still possible but it ain’t always easy! Naturally, those of us who are trying to have to get knocked up during this time find it a real struggle. It’s nature’s way of saying “See? I told you pregnancy was a bloody miracle!”.
- Libido SOS! During perimenopause, sexual arousal and desire may change. But if you had satisfactory sexual intimacy before menopause, this will likely continue through perimenopause and beyond.
- Loss of bone. When your estrogen levels decline, so does your bone density. That can mean risk of osteoporosis — a disease that causes fragile bones. Time to work out using weights and resistance training.
Resources to help you learn more
This pocketbook is available to all healthcare providers across Canada so it’s a head-scratcher when we are dismissed regarding our symptoms.
You’ll find the pocket book and many other great resources on these sites:
There are several great resources to help. You can find more at She2-0.ca.
Fun facts about menopause
If you think there hasn’t been enough research around menopause then you’ll love this. During the 1800s and early 1900s treatments for women in menopause varied from the gruesome to downright barbaric (except golf & orgasms). I don’t even recognize half of them, and I certainly wouldn’t try any of them (except golf & orgasms).
- Mustard hip-baths
- Pediluvio (foot bath)
- Frictions with stimulating embrocation
- Electric therapy
- Cold water directed to the abdomen
- The filtered juice of guinea pigs' ovaries
- A vaginal plug and iced injections on its removal
- Thyroid gland extract
I prefer to think of perimenopause as the runway to menopause. This is the chance to slowly acclimatize, catch problems before they start or progress, and to get our bodies and mind into optimal shape before the big one hits!
Stay tuned for new episodes of the She2.0 podcast in February.