If you’re a woman in your mid to late forties chances are you’ve noticed a few changes recently. Not only in your body, but your mind too.
Welcome to the Perimenopause
The good news is you’re not going crazy and you’re definitely not alone. Declining oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels during the perimenopause years create hormonal imbalance with a host of unpleasant symptoms.
Perimenopause can last for anything between two to fifteen years in the lead up to menopause (when your periods finally stop for good), so the sooner you learn to recognise the symptoms of perimenopause for what they are, the sooner you can take steps to manage your health and enjoy life to the full.
Here’s my guide to knowing when you’ve hit perimenopause. It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek and certainly not exhaustive. You may have the good fortune to experience very few of them or the full spectrum, in which case you’ll know what I’m talking about.
You Know You’ve Hit Perimenopause When…
# The young man you thought was eyeing you out on the tube offers you his seat saying he thought you might need it in your ‘condition’.
# You get excited at a slight dip on the scales but then you realise it’s only because your bones have lost more density and you’ve lost half the hair on your head.
# The only part of you that’s getting any thinner is the lining of your vagina.
# You wet yourself every time a cough or sneeze takes you by surprise.
# Police raid your house in the belief that it’s a cannabis farm and you have to explain that your hot flushes and night sweats emit the same heat as several high-powered halogen lamps.
# You love your partner but you have no desire to have sex with her or him. You’d much rather have a cup of tea, do the ironing, clean out the kitchen cupboards…
# You finally do have sex and develop a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) within hours and remember that’s what happened last time and the time before that.
# You dial 999 thinking you’re having a heart attack but it turns out to be heart palpitations.
# You worry you’ve got early onset Alzheimer’s or Attention Deficit Disorder because it’s been months, even years, since you’ve been able to concentrate enough to have a clear thought about anything.
# You used to love driving but now you find it too stressful. In fact, everything either stresses you out or makes you anxious.
# Before planning a trip anywhere you check if there’re going to be enough public toilets en route.
# Every month you wonder if you’re pregnant when your period is late but then you remember you can’t be because you haven’t had sex since your last UTI.
# You may be on the roller coaster to fifty but you feel like a thirteen year old girl again. In the space of half an hour you can move through the entire spectrum of human emotion from depression to irritation and anger, then elation and back again.
# You wake up in the morning and your body aches all over, even though you haven’t got the flu and you definitely haven’t overdone it in the gym.
# You thank God for ‘fat pants’. You used to have a few days a month when you were bloated and needed to wear elasticised trousers but now you wear them all the time as despite being on a constant diet, your stomach keeps getting bigger and bigger.
# You’ve taken to emitting involuntary yelps of pain whenever people hug you too hard or brush against your breasts and you have to sleep in your bra because your breasts are so painful and tender.
# You decide there’s no need to get a Brazilian wax – your body’s doing it naturally, and for free!
# You realise it’s called the ‘change of life’ because you want to change everything about your life; partner, job, country, friends, diet. You name it, you want to change it.
# Your partner refers to you as ‘the wind beneath my wings’ and you know it’s because of all the burping and farting you’ve taken to doing after meals. Come to think of it, indigestion has become a way of life.
# You used to be the embodiment of sweetness and light but now you’re known as the ‘bitch from hell’.
If you recognise yourself please don’t suffer in silence. Chances are your oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels are no longer in balance and you’re experiencing perimenopause. Speak to a health practitioner about helping you to transition through this phase in the best way possible.
And remember, if ever in doubt, blame it on the hormones.
Recognise yourself? Got anything to add? Please share by leaving a comment below.
Photo: Thanks to Ryan Vaarsi on Flickr.com