This is the first post in my 5-part series where I answer “The Top 5 Questions Every Woman in (or near) Her 40s Should Be Asking about Her Hormones and Her Overall Health.”
Today I will be answering the question: “What IS perimenopause and how do I know if I’m in it?”
Do you remember when you were a young teenager and your body started changing? Do you recall that you got all grumpy and irritable, and everything felt so out of control? Well, that’s pretty much what happens when your hormones are changing, whether it’s due to puberty or perimenopause.
Picture a bell curve that represents the menstruating years of your life, typically from your early teens to your early 50s. As your ovaries kick in with your first periods during puberty, the curve swings upwards. It then stabilizes for a while through your 20s and 30s. Then, as you go through your 40s, your ovaries down shift and eventually you have your last period.
Those last 5-10 years before (and one year after) your last period are called “perimenopause”.
Technically “menopause” is the one day when it has been exactly a year since your last period. And by the way, I often recommend women throw themselves a party on that day!
The time of your life after that one day is considered “post menopause”
. And the years of fluctuating hormones before that, up to 10 years in some cases, are called “perimenopause”.
SIGNS OF PERIMENOPAUSE
For most women, the initial signs are rather subtle and then things gradually get more and more off balance. For others it can be quite pronounced right from the very start. And for others still, there may be very little evidence of anything changing until one day they just no longer get their period (yes that is actually possible!).
The timing between your periods may get more variable or the bleeding may get heavier or lighter. PMS symptoms may get more pronounced and you can feel more sensitive, emotional or irritable.
You may lie awake at night unable to sleep, leaving you exhausted during the day. Hot flashes or night sweats may start and can become quite disruptive.
Your body may start to hold on to extra weight, especially around the belly, and your usual diet and exercise strategies just don’t work any more.
Foggy thinking can make it hard to get stuff done at work and makes every day more stressful as you try to stay on top of everything.
Every woman’s experience is different, but the one thing you can count on is… CHANGE.
EXAMPLES FROM MY PRACTICE
“My periods have become impossible. I never know when I’m going to bleed and I have to keep super plus tampons and pads with me at all times. I had to leave a meeting at work when I literally flooded my pants – ugh!”
“I’ve been having hot flashes and night sweats and I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in months, but my other doctor said I was too young for menopause.”
“Then my period came and I realized maybe everyone else wasn’t quite as annoying and horrible as I had been thinking they were for the past week! I never used to have PMS like this. I don’t want this to cause problems for me at work, or with my husband.”
“I’m in my 40s now and my body feels like it’s changing. I have family history of cancer and heart disease and I’m worried about turning into my mother! My doctor told me everything was “normal” but I want to go through this next phase with as much knowledge and grace as possible.”
PERIMENOPAUSE IS NOT
Perimenopause is not a disease or health condition. It is a natural, normal, healthy phase of life that every woman goes through.
Some women have more symptoms, some have less. If you are struggling, know that there is a LOT you can do naturally to ease any symptoms that you are having, and to prevent other challenging issues that may lie ahead.
And if you are smooth sailing thus far, that’s great! By taking a proactive approach and building your knowledge base now, you will help yourself to stay healthy and can prevent any problems that might arise as you move through menopause and beyond.
If you are local to the Bay Area and want to go deeper or could use more support, CLICK HERE to learn more about my upcoming 6-month group program, starting in January 2016. I will be guiding you step-by-step as you learn the most effective natural strategies for balancing your hormones and optimizing your overall health. Plus, you will connect with a like-minded group of women who totally get what you are going through and will be there to support you on your journey.
We’ll meet just once a month, on a Sunday afternoon, for our circle and discussion, plus a special guest activity such as yoga, dance, pilates or art. The rest of the program is flexible so you can get the help you need at a pace that fits into your busy life!
Get all the details and register here ===> www.DrAmyDay.com/
This 5-part series will be answering your top questions about hormones and overall health, and will teach you many tips about taking care of yourself to stay healthy for the years and decades ahead. Keep an eye out for the next post soon!