MENOPAUSE CAN START EARLIER THAN YOU THINK
I’ve only recently become familiar with the term “perimenopause” which refers to the years-long ramp up to the big M, something that technically constitutes only one day in a woman’s life.
Often the first tell-tale sign is a big change in one’s menstrual cycle rather than its absence altogether, something usually accompanied by a slew of other unpleasant symptoms including intense PMS, UTIs, irritability, feeling anxious, irrational, super hot, or perhaps leaving everyday items like sunglasses in the freezer. Also, it can start as early as your mid-30s and last a really long time, another fact in a long list of “I did not knows” about my body.
Goddess help me if perimenopause can last four to TEN years. If this is about to be my new norm, then I better learn the signs and conjure a serious support network of magical elves to fan me. But in all seriousness, asking ourselves the tough questions and telling the truth about how we really feel during these huge transitions is essential. Sadly, we can’t count on traditional OBs to prepare and discuss the signs with us given the routine 10 minute annual where, in my experience, I am rarely asked meaningful questions about how I feel let alone equipped with vital, supportive information about my life stage.
Dismissing the change as “just something to deal with” is both belittling and isolating, and the collective shrug we receive from medical practitioners isn’t acceptable. I appreciate that NPR is dedicating a series of conversations to encourage ladies to understand and equip each other with real tools, strategies and questions in order to navigate the shifts. Some practical tips include:
Getting educated - This is obvious and often the question is more of a but where do I start? The National Women's Health Information Center has a section on menopause and perimenopause. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also has a perimenopause FAQ.
Monitoring your health - Track your cycle, any physical and emotional changes and share your health history with your doctor/s.
Practice better self-care - Sleep, saying no to stressful situations and a mindfulness practice is key.
Cultivate Community - Depending on how you feel about Facebook, there are many private groups with helpful, real-time, “I’ve been there” advice and support.
So don’t tough it out, talk about it! And listen below for the second segment in their series delving into the issue.