What is Perimenopause & am I in it?
Perimenopause is no joke. It’s like you wake up one morning and you’re a completely different person. You’re tired. You’re grumpy. You’re hot. All you want to do is sleep, but when bedtime comes, you’re wide awake…. sweating through your PJ’s. And what is up with your weight? You haven’t changed a thing, but the scale is ALL over the place.
This process typically begins in our forties, but can begin in your mid-thirties. It begins with dropping progesterone levels and ends with dropping estrogen levels.
I did not fully understand perimenopause until it started happening to me. We’ve been taught that menopause happens when we stop having a menstrual period. I always thought that we started having hot flashes & other weird hormonal imbalances AFTER we stopped having a period. No one explained that perimenopause starts (on average) 2-10 years before our menstrual cycle stops. I found this out first hand last year when my adrenals were overloaded and producing too much cortisol causing my blood sugar to spike. My nutrition didn’t change at all when this happened so I was very surprised. I found out, after testing my hormones, that it was primarily stress related. I also found out that it is very common for this to start happening in perimenopause.
Perimenopause can bring all kinds of hormonal imbalances that can cause more frequent periods, PMS, deteriorating libido, growing waistline (mostly in the belly area), brain fog, mood swings, depression, insomnia, adrenal fatigue, blood sugar imbalances and many other symptoms.
Have you experienced any of these in the last few months (The Hormone Cure, Sara Gottfried, MD):
Are you feeling less enthusiastic about doing the regular life things?
Are you having more wardrobe malfunctions and reluctant to wear anything other than yoga or stretchy pants?
A need to unbutton your jeans to make room for the roll around your waist, which seemed to arrive overnight?
Emotional instability - for the first time in your life, you burst into tears or become super grumpy at the weirdest times?
A lack of satisfaction with exercise, since it doesn’t seem to affect your weight?
A general feeling of blah or reclusiveness; do you find yourself watching the clock and wondering when it might be socially acceptable to extricate yourself from normal activities and retire for the evening?
A problem sleeping (indiscriminate debates and ruminations awakening you at night)?
A habit of waking up so sweaty that you need to change your nightgown and sheets, and perhaps even your partner?
A face with crow’s feet and a permanently furrowed brow?
A lack of attention to personal grooming habits (you really don’t care how attractive you look)?
An attitude toward others that’s less gung-ho and more ambivalent than it once was?
A menstrual period so unpredictable that you don’t know whether you're in for spotting or flooding or some weird combination of the two?
Sudden forgetfulness when walking into a room (knowing you had a purpose, but searching for clues as to what it was)?
A continual doubting of your own instincts and insights?
More frequent announcements to the family that you need a nap now or you need a ‘timeout’?
A preference for chocolate or a glass of wine over sex (which may be your lowest priority)?
A notion that Zoloft or a little Prozac sounds increasingly appealing?
An opinion that addressing your mood issues by giving up sugar, alcohol, gluten, taking various supplements and hormonal tweaking sounds like way too much work?
If you have five or more of these thoughts or feelings most of the time and you are between the age of 35-55 - welcome to perimenopause.