Somewhere around the age of 40, women start transitioning to a new stage of their lives.
Yet it’s rarely talked about. How do I know this? I’m a research and statistics queen … it’s what I do. 🙂
Perimenopause and menopause are both subjects that aren’t commonplace. Just for fun, I searched Amazon to see how many books were written on perimenopause: 645 results.
Menopause wasn’t much better: 7000 results. Compare that to sex: 70,000 results, pregnancy: 60,000 results, or even aging: 60,000 results.
Yep, we love being vibrant, sexual creatures. We love the result – having a baby. We even want to learn more about the aging process. But shh, be quiet about “that time of life” where everything changes.
Quick, define menopause. Society in general thinks of an “older” woman as someone who’s peaked, and is moving into the twilight portion of her life. She’s aging. Her health is deteriorating. Happiness goes down. Yep, it’s all downhill from there …
Anger issues. Mood swings. Hot flashes. Night sweats. Weight gain. What’s there to look forward to?
Then you read about midlife crises. The kids leave home, only to have your spouse leave home too. He dates younger women as young as your kids! (One study suggests that while women are attracted to men their own age, men consistently seek out 20-year-olds throughout their lives. Hello, media industry, you’re part of the problem.)
It’s enough to drive you mad! Right? There’s isn’t anything to look forward to from this point forward. Right?
False. False. False!
Perimenopause or Menopause, What’s The Difference?
I’m not a doctor. But I have done a ton of research on healthy living since my dad died of a heart attack at the age of fifty-four.
Throughout my research, I’ve come to understand menopause as the point in time when you’ve transitioned beyond your last menstrual period. That’s it! You’re not completely menopausal until you’ve lived an entire year without a period.
Perimenopause is the process of changing up until that point. Perimenopause can last for a decade or longer, and impact you in a variety of ways.
In a perfect world, you’re at your peak health in your twenties. This is when all systems should be operating optimally. Your sex life is on track. You’re active. You’re ready to procreate. And your entire system is prepared for that process.
We aren’t meant to sustain that function for life. It peaks, and then we move into a different stage of our lives.
Perimenopause is the transition to get us there. It reminds us that while we’re still amazing, beautiful feminine creatures, we no longer are meant to have babies. We’re entering a stage where we nurture on entirely different levels.
When your cycle changes, your hormone levels change. And that’s where you can start to notice problems.
It’s time to find a menopause doctor
In my early forties, I didn’t understand any of this. Quite frankly, I didn’t even know perimenopause was a thing.
I heard my mother talk about menopause. I knew she had raging periods and a problem with hot flashes as she transitioned into it. That’s it.
As a business owner, I network all the time. Back then, I met a wonderful woman who was a holistic health practitioner, who worked exclusively with regulating women’s hormones. Chatting with her, I became enthralled with her knowledge. I dove in and read every book she suggested. And I signed up to be one of her clients.
She tested my hormone levels. I was low on progesterone. Quite normal for a perimenopausal woman. When I first consulted with her, I complained of:
- Breast tenderness
- Mood swings
- Trouble sleeping
- Brain fog
Yep, the classic signs of low progesterone when compared with estrogen.
Not everyone faces perimenopause the same. Some, like me, have low progesterone. Others are low on testosterone or estrogen. But when your hormones are out of whack, you don’t feel like you. And it shows up in what we’ve deemed to be the classic menopausal symptoms:
- Low sex drive
- Decreased energy
- Thinning hair
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Mental confusion
I learned so much from this wonderful person, my hormone practitioner for over a decade now. She died this week from breast cancer.
I talk about what I’ve learned because of her.
Yay! It’s Time To Look Forward To Perimenopause, Menopause, and Transitioning
Remember when you moved through different stages in your life, how exciting huge jumps were? How they made you feel?
Driving a car.
Graduating high school.
Giving birth to your first child.
You made leaps towards the next phase of your life. You developed goals. You created new pathways. You were excited about your future.
There’s no difference between then and now.
If you’re perimenopausal in your forties and you live to be one-hundred, just think of all the time you have left.
But there is nothing normal about living with symptoms that make your life hell.
If you feel any of the common perimenopausal symptoms, just know there is relief.
Two pieces of advice I learned from working with my wonderful friend and hormone practitioner:
Find a holistic menopause or hormonal care provider. THIS IS NOT A REGULAR OB/GYN. Most western medical practitioners are not well versed in this kind of care. When I heard her talk about her practice, when I met with her in person, and over the years as I listened to her advice, I’m so grateful she was a part of my life. And taught me what I needed to know to thoroughly enjoy this period of my life.
Do your own research. I’m a reader, and have read so many wonderful books from women who have made this transition themselves. Suzanne Sommers. Dr Christiane Northrup. I continually listen to their research and follow their advice.
Take charge of your own health. Take charge of your own life. Think of this as a gateway to what’s next.
It’s the best piece of advice I have for you.
As women in midlife, we have this innate sense that caring for our health is more important than ever. But what does that mean? Who do we listen to? Where do we begin?
Glad you asked. Wellness is a simple concept – we’re born with all the tools necessary to care for ourselves for life. It gets muddied somewhere in the middle. Now, it’s time to change that here in midlife. Let this journal be your guide to get clear on what’s most important in keeping you healthy and well as you move forward in your own personal wellness journey.