DISCLAIMER: This post contains honest and relevant information for women who may suspect that they are going through the early stages of menopause. It is intended to educate and enlighten, however some readers may find the information and text graphic and detailed. Please read at your own discretion.
This is why I write…in our own little bubbles of the world, we believe that what we experience is to be expected…what everyone else goes through… But we don’t talk about it!? We keep it private….keep our struggle private. WHY? Every single time I share an aspect of my story, someone else can relate, has experienced the same thing or can identify with what’s gone on. I receive messages, emails and texts about experiences and women sharing their stories.
By my early forties, the physical reality of early-onset perimenopausal symptoms taking over my life was creating an impact. I was edgy, unpredictable and emotionally prone to bouts of anger. I was dealing with physical issues that I wasn’t prepared for and they were taking a toll on me emotionally and mentally.
There was excessive bleeding…I’m sorry, that sounds funny to me right now. Please allow me to clarify…. I was experiencing interval, duration and volume issues that were putting my health in a precarious situation. The cause of this, I would learn later, was that I had Fibroids which caused excessive bleeding, more frequent periods and longer periods of bleeding. In turn, this caused low iron, fatigue, headaches and a host of other subtle symptoms. What was the impact? I stopped running, I was dizzy most of the time, I had issues concentrating, and had no energy even on the best day.
The medical brick wall I was meeting with on a frequent basis kept regurgitating “you’re too young for menopause”, which left me questioning my own sanity in thinking that’s what was going on. Combined with the hormonal fluctuations, the whole situation was creating the perfect storm.
Fast forward 5 years and things had changed. I had listened to my inner voice (“you’re not crazy”), and the advice of some close friends….and sought a referral to a Gynecologist who confirmed my suspicions and diagnosed the fibroids. It was at this exact time that my symptoms changed abruptly (aka: I suddenly stopped my period), started to regain energy and my moods started to lift.
I didn’t know that what I was experiencing during the beginning of my menopause, wasn’t normal. I didn’t know that there were solutions. I experienced roadblocks within the medical community that affected my health.
In the months or years leading up to menopause (perimenopause), you might experience these signs and symptoms:
- Irregular periods
- Vaginal dryness / discomfort during sex
- Breast tenderness
- Hot flashes or an overwhelming sense of heat
- Night sweats
- Sleep problems
- Sudden Mood changes
- Trouble concentrating
- Worsening Premenstrual syndrome
- Lowered sex drive
- Weight gain and slowed metabolism
- Thinning hair and dry skin
- Loss of breast fullness
- Urine leakage when coughing or sneezing
- Urinary urgency (an urgent need to urinate more frequently)
- dry, thinning skin
- hair loss or thinning
- weight gain
Any of these symptoms can persist through menopause and into the post-menopausal period.
You should seek medical attention if any of the following are present:
- Your periods are very heavy
- You experience blood clots.
- Your periods last several days longer than usual.
- You spot between periods.
- You have spotting after sex.
- Your periods happen closer together.
The greatest impact on your ability to navigate this transitional period in your life is your ability to be proactive in your own health care. Don’t allow anyone to tell you that this is all in your head.
- Seek out natural or holistic alternatives to medication
- Get tested to confirm where you are in the menopause spectrum
- Seek medical advice and treatment for symptoms that are blocking your normal activities
- Talk about this in your tribe – get support!
The Silver Lining
In the afterglow of my transition, things are great. I have relatively few symptoms at this point and the reality of no longer having a period is FREEING!
Beyond the symptoms of menopause, this transition period marks a change emotionally for me. Gone are the expectations and holding myself up to others’ standards. I confidently move through fear because I know that freedom is on the other side. I express my emotions, thoughts and opinions….because I want to. I accept myself. Right now. Just as I am. All of me.
Change is good.
Share your stories and experiences. In isolation, we feel lost but as a tribe, we gain strength.
Reach out if you need support. We all have been there.
PS: Why the butterfly image at the beginning of this post? Simple symbolism: We are an unattractive worm for a while – we regroup, stay quiet and wait while we transition – then we become the most beautiful version of ourselves.