I have prepared myself for many things in life, but going into perimenopause at 34-years old wasn’t one of them. In fact, I didn’t even know that perimenopause existed. Until I put all of my symptoms together and realized that I may be experiencing it.
I have wanted to write about this for a few weeks now, but haven’t been able to bring myself to put the words to paper. I have a hard enough time talking to close friends and family about it. But I decided writing about it may help me get through it – so here it is.
What is Perimenopause?
According to WebMD, “Perimenopause, or menopause transition, is the stage of a woman's reproductive life that begins several years before menopause, when the ovaries gradually begin to produce less estrogen.”
What are the Symptoms of Perimenopause?
There is a laundry list of perimenopause symptoms, and I have been experiencing many of them over the last 12-18 months.
- Irregular periods (more or less frequent, heavier, longer, etc.)
- Breast tenderness/pain
- Worsening of premenstrual syndrome
- Insomnia, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Mood swings, irritability, anxiety, depression and sudden crying
- Extreme fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating or feeling foggy
- Memory lapses
- Hot flashes
- Decreased libido (sex drive)
- Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex
- Urine leakage when coughing or sneezing
- Headaches and migraines
- Urinary urgency (a pressing need to urinate more frequently)
- Weight gain (mainly in your abdomen)
- Bloating and water retention
- Irregular heart beat
- Feeling shaky or jittery
- Itchy, crawly skin
- Aching, sore joints, muscles and tendons
- Gastrointestinal distress, indigestion, flatulence, gas pain, nausea
- Increase in allergies
- Hair loss or thinning
- Increase in facial hair
- Dizziness, vertigo, light-headedness and loss of balance
- Changes in body odor
- Tingling in the extremities
- Electric shock sensation under the skin and in the head
- Gum problems, such as increased bleeding
- Burning tongue/mouth
- Bad taste in mouth or change in breath odor
- Changes in fingernails
- Tinnitus (ringing in ears)
When Does Perimenopause Usually Start?
Perimenopause usually commences in your 40s, but it can start in your 30s or even earlier. I have read that celiacs often begin perimenopause several years earlier.
How Long Does Perimenopause Last?
The average length of perimenopause is four years, but it may last from only a few months up to 10 years before you finally reach menopause.
Managing Perimenopause Naturally
If you know me, I am not one to run to the doctor and ask for meds to solve my problems. I take a natural, holistic approach to wellness – and how I manage perimenopause if that's what I'm experiencing will be no different.
I fear that one of two things will happen if go to the doctor to have my hormone levels checked.
- Either they won’t have fluctuated enough yet to register and the doctor will tell me I’m only 34, so I’m crazy if I think I’m in perimenopuase.
- The hormone test will confirm the hormone change and they’ll start pushing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and other pharmaceuticals on me.
Neither result sounds appealing to me, but I should probably go for a checkup just to see what the doctor says. I will still have the option to manage my symptoms with natural home remedies.
This month (and in the coming months), I’ll be sharing some of the things I’m doing to treat the perimenopause symptoms I have been experiencing naturally. I hope it will help you if you are experiencing periomenopause now, or it will help you be more prepared for perimenopause than I am now. And even if I'm not going through perimenopause, I'll become more prepared for when I do.
Thank you for allowing me to share my journey with you.
If you have already begun or went through perimenopause, I’d love for you to share any advice or suggestions you have in the comments section.
Update: My hormone levels came back normal. After more doctors appointments, a hospital stay and even more doctors appointments, I finally got a diagnosis – Neurcardiogenic Syncope. Please see your doctor and keep pushing for answers!
photo credit http://www.someecards.com/