10 things no one tells you about peri-menopause
Remember that time before your periods started, in primary school, where everyone and their elderly aunt were telling you that it was natural to cry at everything, how you would loose your puppy fat, how lovely your shape, form and life would be once your period came? Wasn’t it nice to blame absolutely everything on hormones? Well what about the tail end of it, the menopause? Why isn’t there an elderly aunt, spreading kindly words about how crap the onset of old age feels? I’m here to dispel any illusions you have that life begins at 40. Darlings, the peri-menopause begins at 35. And here is the truth about what it does to you.
1. Oh HAI moodswings
Sorry. I really am. I didn’t mean to shout at you like that. Well of course you deserved it because you breathed in my direction. How rude. Whilst some women are thinking about starting a family at my age (I’m 41) I’m trying to keep myself as even keeled as possible around my three. Counting to ten. Coupled with hormonal surges it’s bloody tough sometimes. Whilst your body is screaming out to every last bit of oestrogen it can to stay where it is, it plays havoc with your brain and your thought processes. One moment you could be as content as a Cheshire cat, the next you’re devastated that you have a tiny hole in your favourite leggings. No fair.
2. Be still my beating heart
Until very recently, I had never had one heart palpitation in my life. Queue peri-menopause, and my little heart is all over the shop. Ever had butterflies in your chest? No let’s rephrase that because it’s just not accurate. Ever had bloody huge pterodactyls clawing their way out of your chest in a bid to escape extinction? That’s more like it. I knew I had it in me.
It’s unexpected, it winds you and it’s just horrible! Time after time I’ve had to step away from what I was doing. Too much coffee got the blame originally. So I cut it down and eventually cut it out. Nope. Didn’t work. Also tried the same with sugar. Nothing worked. Not even mindfulness. Apparently it’s quite common in peri-menopause, as is my next point:
3. Anxiety and Mental health changes
I changed the title to changes, rather than issues. Now, I’m quite happy to admit that I am the one in three that lives with a mental health issue, namely anxiety. And that’s honestly what I thought caused heart palpitations. But according to recent research, not only is your brain physiologically changed after giving birth, it’s NEVER actually as strong again. Who doesn’t question ‘who the hell am I now?’ after having a baby.
Peri menopause and anxiety/depression are interlinked. Joy. Look after yourself!
4. Who left the tap on?
You’re looking forward to the time when you don’t have to rinse out your moon cup, or head down to buy monthly supplies. When you read somewhere that your periods will eventually stop it’s a huge relief. Finally, something good about it all.
What no one tells you is, alongside mood-swings and PMT from hell, your periods are heavier, erratic and have a mind of their own. Mine decide to turn up when I’m off out, and my OCD about making a calendar (THAT I’VE KEPT SINCE I WAS 11) and circling that perfect twenty eight day cycle so that I can at least be prepared? HAHAHAHA. NO.
5.Brain fart alert!
See the above point about brain chemistry and physiology being changed? Does anyone else find themselves asking ‘where are my keys?’ 20 times a day?
6. It’s getting hot in here…
Three times I’ve had to excuse myself recently and go out to bask in the frigid winter air because I feel like I’m going to explode internally. The heat rises from your core into your face and makes your cheeks a lovely prickly heat shade of alcoholic farmer. Attractive.
7. And then there’s sleep
Or lack thereof. And when you do sleep you wake up swimming in your own sweat. I’m not joking with this one, I was physically attached to the bedsheet and had to be aided out of it by my other half. There’s nothing like it.
I would love to get a regular eight hours of sleep. But again apparently things like this are down to pesky little hormones. I’ve struggled throughout my adult life to get a solid 5 hours of good quality sleep. And when I do sleep, the dreams are bonkers.
And the times you’re meant to be super awake? Well…
8. Why am I apple shaped?
It would be so easy to blame my recent weight gain on per-menopause. It’s not. It’s just my preference for chocolate over fruit, and Skyrim over exercise. But weight gain and loosing that once firm and fabulous body is a symptom.
I think most mothers would agree with me that our bodies aren’t exactly as they were before kids. But I can’t remember a time my boobs and belly were so intimate. I’m starting to remind myself of a Buddah statue.
Time to start re-firming and exercising methinks.
9. Clogging up the hoover
I have an issue. The issue is hair. I have lots of it, and it ends up all over the pillows, carpets, tiles and clogging up every plughole. I’m so lucky to have lots of hair. Other friends of the same age are developing see through hair lines. I know some men who go bald but no where did I sign up for going bald because my hormones are shot!
10. Developing a chronic illness
Yes, hormonal changes can certainly lead to the onset of a chronic illness, especially cluster migranes, ME and chronic fatigue and Rheumatoid arthritis/osteoporosis. It’s not all doom and gloom though, there’s only 14 more years until all my kids are viable to fend for themselves! YAY!