When you get to a certain age you start to see lots of talk about menopause. Well when I say lots of talk, you become aware of it, feel wary of it and read a couple of articles hoping to not face it until much later.
The fact is, many of use in our 40s are experiencing perimenopausal symptoms and might not even know it. Perimenopause can last 10 years for some and be just as debilitating as the actual menopause.
This is why we need to talk more about the symptoms. We need to make it easier to be open about it, ensure we’re validated and taken seriously and have access to services and support throughout this period.
Women need to be aware that they way they feel isn’t just tiredness, stress or anxiety due to family life and work, but that hormone changes, and specifically a reduction in oestrogen, can be the cause.
If you’ve been feeling off, have a strange set of ailments and think it might be down to perimenopause it’s worth talking to a GP or trying to find ways to alleviate the symptoms. Giving yourself permission to feel different is ok; fighting these things isn’t always the answer.
Why We Need to Be More Open about Perimenopause
There’s been a big campaign in the last year or so to make the subject of mental illness more mainstream, to make it easier to discuss and to dispel the myths and stigmas around mental health.
And that’s been a fantastic campaign.
The same thing needs to happen for the menopause. It’s been brushed under the carpet for too long.
Before I hit my 40’s I’d never really heard much about perimenopause. It sounded like one of those words thrown around by medical types as a fancy of way of describing some innocuous symptoms that didn’t really exist.
But now I’m almost 50 I know for a fact that it is very real. I am definitely perimenopausal and its had a profound effect on certain aspects of my life. I never even knew it was such a big deal, but oh my god, it can affect some women so drastically.
Symptoms to Watch Out For:
Now obviously I’m no professional and can only talk from my own experience and the research I’ve done.
I’m convinced I’ve been suffering with perimenopause symptoms for several years.
We know about the obvious symptoms that everyone talks about – the change to our periods and hot flushes. Now I’ve had some changes to the first but don’t suffer with the second. I definitely don’t fit the standard.
But there are so many other symptoms, apparently around 34, so you could be suffering with any one or multiple from the list. Things like:
Joint pain, loss of libido, mood swings, depression, weight gain, anxiety, sleep problems, fatigue, dizziness, memory loss and trouble concentrating. Wow, that’s some list right!
I find they’re all quite innocuous on their own. They are symptoms you would just ignore or work through. After all we all get a bit low, can’t sleep and feel knackered from time to time!
But you start putting them all together, and living with them for year after year and they do start to wear you down.
You suddenly realise that the way you feel is due to more than just stress at work and a few late nights.
And this is why perimenopause needs to be talked about more. We need to know what we’re dealing with so we can help ourselves out. Whether that’s talking to our GP, learning some extra self-care techniques or hitting the gin bottle (no, that won’t help!); being prepared is half the battle.
Having the knowledge about how our body is going to change helps us cope. It helps us prepare for what lies ahead and gives us the peace of mind that we have some control.
For many women, the symptoms are minor and often go unnoticed but for the vast majority, perimenopause is a big deal and needs to be addressed.