OK, so it’s not like Perimenopause was really something that I was expecting, right? I mean, I had just turned 45 which is young, no? I wasn’t thinking about the dreaded “change” initially, but I had some things going on that I couldn’t ignore.
My Symptoms of Perimenopause
There are more symptoms than I list here, but these are the ones that I’ve experienced.
I was finding myself extremely emotional about everything. Patience with my children was especially lacking. It made life extremely challenging. My moods were all over the place and completely out of control!
Weight Gain and/or Redistribution
Oh and the weight gain, yea, the pounds were suddenly packing on overnight and I hadn’t changed much over the last few years in my eating/exercise habits (or lack thereof). I mean, baby suddenly had back (and not the good kind)!
Heart Rhythm Changes
One of the scariest symptoms of Perimenopause that I’ve experienced were the heart palpitations and occasional racing heartbeat. The nurse in me was totally overthinking it. I thought that I needed an immediate cardiac work up.
Though not often, the hot flashes started. They were mild, but they were definitely there.
Menstrual Cycle Changes
I then started having menstrual cycle changes. I actually had two periods about 18 days apart. I also had a LOT of vaginal dryness which is really uncomfortable.
Hair Loss and Redistribution
The hair loss has also been really disturbing. My hair started falling out after I gave birth to my son, but it was suddenly much faster. I’ve been fortunate in that I am not growing more facial hair.
And then there is the brain fog/forgetfulness. I pretty much couldn’t remember what my kids had asked to eat like 30 seconds ago. My son started telling me that I had a bad memory and he was only 4 – UGH!
Now mind you, I have PCOS too, so much of this could be attributed to that, but these things were all pretty new for me as I’d never really fit the classic picture of PCOS.
Validating My Symptoms
I was telling a friend about my symptoms and that I was thinking it might be the start of Perimenopause. She said, “Your mom may not be alive, but you have two older sisters. Have you asked them?” Well, DUH. Why didn’t I think of that? When I called my oldest sister, I could almost hear her head bobbing over the phone as she said, “Yes, Mom was around 44/45 and so was I when it started.” She then validated basically every one of my symptoms. If you are suspecting any of this, my first suggestion would be to call your mother or sister and ask what it was like for them. It will likely be similar for you.
Doing My Homework
With some research, I discovered that these are pretty much textbook symptoms of Perimenopause(see resources below). I had no idea as I’d never really thought much about it before. At my GYN appointment shortly after all of this and the doctor’s head nodded wildly as I described everything. She did an ultrasound and I am still ovulating, but does that mean anything? Not really, I guess. Perimenopause is a phase that women go through before menopause and it lasts anywhere from 5 – 10 years. Menopause is defined as the absence of a menstrual cycle for one year. The average age for a woman to reach Menopause is 51 but ranges anywhere from 45 to 55 years old.
My symptoms seem to ebb and flow, which I expect for now. I have also made lifestyle changes to support myself with both PCOS and Perimenopause. I’ve learned that diet and exercise are critical in hormone balance. I’ll be sharing more about the lifestyle changes I’ve made here and in our community. Come on over and join us!
Menopause. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/menopause.html.
Perimenopausal Bleeding and Bleeding After Menopause. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Perimenopausal-Bleeding-and-Bleeding-After-Menopause.