Being Menopause awareness month this month we have focused our blogs on talking about the menopause with a view to support raising awareness on the topic. It’s something that every woman goes through at some stage in their lives yet is talked about very little. Generally, the menopause is not discussed openly until you hit that phase of life and slowly discover all your friends are going through a similar experience but suffering in silence.
Part of the reason for this is because what has been talked about even less so is: the PERI menopause. The word ‘Peri’ means, round/about, so peri menopause is the time round about when a woman enters the transition into the menopause.
Whether it’s down to old-fashioned views that these things just weren’t to be discussed or a general lack of knowledge and understanding – with the thought that as long as you’re still having a period you are not in the menopause – there is a long way to go in learning and educating people on this subject.
Menopause v Peri Menopause
According to Web MD, when a woman has gone 12 full months with no period, they are officially in the menopause. However, before that happens, where a woman does not have a period for 12 months, they go through all sorts of physical, emotional, and mental challenges and changes as the body prepares itself for ending the workings of her reproductive cycle.
When does Peri Menopause start and how long does it last?
The timeframe can vary for each woman by quite a lot. The specific age it will come can often be dependent on genetics – so if you can ask your Mum when she hit that stage it’ll give you an indication of when you might. It seems to be more regularly occurring in younger women starting around their 30’s. However, this might seem this way as younger women are more opening admitting that is happening.
The time leading up to that full 12 months of no period can vary for every woman. The majority don’t enter the peri menopause overnight, it starts slowly, with symptoms appearing, maybe stopping for a while and then occurring on and off for months, sometimes years, before they go into full menopause.
What happens during the peri menopause phase?
In the early days, it can be hard to identify. Many women have put their symptoms down to other things. Occurring sporadically as well, makes them difficult to spot early on. There are many different symptoms, some are listed below and not all women go through each one of them – you might find that you experience some more than others. Our advice would be to keep a journal of all your symptoms, how often they happen and the severity each time. It will help piece together over time what you’re going through. This will also help when speaking to a doctor or nurse about what you’re experiencing. Which we always recommend that you do.
The main symptoms of the peri menopause are:
- Irregular periods
- Hot flashes
- Weight gain that is hard to shake
- Changes to your skin – including breakouts and sensitivity
- Mood impacts, like feeling more anxious or sad
- Sleeping problems
- Nausea / Dizziness
Whilst managing these symptoms can be quite difficult, there are things you can do to minimise their impact on your life. Taking care of yourself for starters, remembering that you are going through a very draining phase of your life and being kind to yourself is the no.1 most important thing to do. Keep up an exercise routine that suits you, eat healthy fruit and veg, find new products to suit your changing hormonal skin and talk to friends. More of them than you think will be experiencing what you are too.
Take back control
What is important to keep in mind is that there is nothing specific that triggers peri menopause and whilst there is nothing that can be done to stop it happening, there are things you can do to still feel in control. What we can all do is make it a subject that is less taboo, let’s talk about it more, educate each other and our partners on why it is such a difficult thing to go through. Even just the knowledge that you are not alone, not the only one going through a very significant change in your life, can help you cope with what it brings.
Florence King, a famous South American Writer born in the 1930’s said of being post-menopausal: “A woman must wait for her ovaries to die before she can get her rightful personality back. Post-menstrual is the same as pre-menstrual; I am once again what I was before the age of twelve: a female human being who knows that a month has thirty days, not twenty-five, and who can spend every one of them free of the shackles of that defect of body and mind known as femininity.”
Whether you agree with that statement or not, plenty women will tell once the menopause is over, they feel like they have got their life back. Let’s keep the conversation going and support women through this huge phase of life.