I’ve been convinced for the last year or so that I’m going through early menopause. This is also known as perimenopause, and can last for years. According to the medical world, the average age for women to go through the Big M is 51. Anything between 40-60 is considered within normal range, so at 39, it would appear I’m slightly ahead of the game. Now, of course, every woman is different, but for me, early menopause symptoms have been disconcertingly similar to early pregnancy. Here’s why…
I have been ruled by my hormones since I started going through puberty. My periods were horrendous from the off. I’m not just talking a few cramps. I would bleed heavily, and pass huge blood clots. I would have to stay home from school several days each month, and lie on the sofa with my legs elevated.
Back then (1991) the standard response for girls with troublesome monthlies was to put them on the contraceptive pill. Yes, at twelve years old. No investigation into why it was happening, or any kind of natural remedy suggestions. Just pop these pills and forget about it. There are not enough facepalm emojis for how I feel about this now.
Goodness only knows what almost fifteen years on the pill did to my body, and is it any wonder my moods were all over the place? In all three of my pregnancies I was a lot more irritable than usual in the early days. Not surprisingly, PMT has always featured, but for the last year or so, I’ve averaged three days per cycle of feeling like a stark raving lunatic.
Lack of periods and sore boobs
For some very lucky ladies, their periods stopping will be the first indication of the menopause. A friend of mine, who is 52, said the only symptom she had was not having a period. I knew I’d never be so fortunate. Having suffered with heavy bleeding for almost thirty years, I always thought their absence would be 100% welcome. However, my first missed period came with sore boobs and sent me into a proper tailspin. The irrational voice inside my head was yelling “you are way too young for the menopause, you must be pregnant,” while the sane one shook their head knowingly. My husband and I are far too careful to be accidentally making babies. Well, mostly, anyway.
Apparently periods can come and go during the peri days, and you’re not officially classed as menopausal until you’ve gone an entire year without one. During the change they can be erratic and cycles can get longer. For me, my super heavy periods haven’t been nearly as heavy. I said to a friend recently that it feels like they are drying up. When they do appear, I only properly bleed for one day. Which compared with the past – four or five days of heavy bleeding and two days of light bleeding – adds weight to my theory.
I’m not going to lie, a completely absent period is nerve wracking at my age. Why is it akin to early pregnancy? Well, there is a urine test you can do to measure your hormone levels. After you’ve peed on a stick, you can confirm the results with a blood test via the GP. Sound familiar, mamas?
Other noticeable symptoms
There is a huge list of symptoms and body changes that could be accounted for because you’re going through early menopause. Among which are: hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, lack of libido, mood swings, anxiety, abdominal weight gain and needing the loo more often. These are all things I have been going through intermittently this past year, but also ticked all the boxes between my three pregnancies.
Pretty much the same health advice applies to the menopause as other conditions which affect our mental health. Don’t drink too much. Exercise regularly. Eat sensibly – avoiding refined sugar and processed food as much as possible. Thankfully I have been avoiding these things for many years, so I’m hoping this is helping my cause. You can check out my paleo recipes here if you like.
There are also various supplements which are recommended. I wrote a piece recently about naturally lowering cortisol, which you might find useful. For a more comprehensive piece about alleviating symptoms the natural way, check out this brilliant post from Dr. Axe.
I believe living with chronic stress has triggered early menopause for me, so it probably doesn’t come as a shock to hear that all these changes have put me in a reflective mood. Prior to having children, I said I’d have two or four. Kids in odd numbers just felt like a bad idea. After having three kids in four years though, I knew I was done having babies. Every now and then I’ve pondered the what ifs, but ultimately I am confident that more children in this particular family would be a terrible idea.
So I’ve come to three conclusions of late
- Davis number four will wholeheartedly be a fur baby.
- I refuse point blank to be scared of the menopause. In fact my current frame of mind is very similar to being told I was infertile at 27. I don’t take this shit lying down, trust me.
- I’m ready for the big M. It’s rather apt that it’s come early for me, as so much else in my life has. I certainly will not be missing my periods, and who knows, I might even fare up better hormonally after it’s all over? Stranger things have happened I guess.