Learn how to manage perimenopause, with options for symptoms. A bit of grace and humor during this big change can help a lot!
Start by printing this gorgeous SELF CARE CHECKLIST.
Just as I was congratulating myself on finding the perfect anti-wrinkle cream, the painful eruptions appeared. There is something fundamentally unjust about having to use both acne cream and retinol on my face in the same week.
In the midst of a hormonal shift and off-the-charts stress, I had developed a perfect triangle of painful pimples flanking my forehead and chin.
Perimenopause, for me, has been a grueling physical, mental and emotional passage. No one warned me that, after I’d conquered the childbearing years, another mountain was waiting just over the horizon.
The intersection of this major physical change with other monumental life stresses can stack the deck against us. For many women, the physical symptoms of perimenopause coincide cruelly with Empty Nest, caring for aging parents, financial upheaval, and career transition.
Today more than ever, there’s hope for those of us trying to manage perimenopause. With a little information, a team of experts and a tribe of like-minded friends, we can make it through with grace and humor.
Just what is perimenopause? The first four letters give a big clue. Just like our bodies ramped up to puberty and our first period, perimenopause is the gradual process of bringing our cycles to an end.
experts generally agree that it begins with irregular menstrual cycles — courtesy of declining ovarian function — and ends a year after the last menstrual period.Harvard Health Publishing
Some women are lucky enough to have a very short perimenopausal phase. In other cases, menopause is brought on immediately by surgery or other medical therapies. But, for many of us, the awkward transition can take years.
If you’re trying to manage perimenopause, start by reading the articles I’ve linked in this post. You may even want to print them out and bring them with you to your next doctor appointment.
If these symptoms have you reeling, you’re in good company:
- sleep problems
- mental fog
- irregular periods
- mood changes
- hot flashes
Although each of us experiences perimenopause uniquely, there are some common threads. The average age for menopause is 51, but annoying symptoms can begin as early as 40 and go to as late as age 58.
Bodyostasis – n. Those rare, fleeting moments when nothing hurts or feels out of whack.All Things Menopause
While each symptom has it’s unique challenge, hot flashes are the hallmark of this passage. The feeling of blazing heat to the neck and head can be triggered by caffeine, alcohol or time of day among other symptoms.
Hot flashes can become so severe that they interrupt sleep and require a sudden, embarrassing break from daily activity.
Need help taking great care of yourself? Post this beautifully formatted Self-Care Checklist where you’ll see it often.
While no one can say for sure what causes them, hot flashes can be treated in several ways. The most obvious remedy is taking note of triggers and avoiding them, if possibly.
There’s clear evidence that paced respiration, a deep breathing technique, helps alleviate hot flashes.Harvard Health Publishing
Consider switching from coffee to tea or have a small electric fan ready at your desk. If, despite all your efforts, hot flashes are ruining your quality of life, discuss pharmaceutical options with your health care provider.
Choose Your Team
When all is said and done, the best way to manage perimenopause is admitting you can’t make it alone. Assemble a team of experts who can guide you safely to the other side of this transition.
After all, you’d make sure your child got help if they had a medical need, right?
Keep looking until you find someone you feel comfortable talking with and who takes your concerns seriously. They should be eager to resource you with specialists they know and trust to help you manage perimenopause.
Perimenopause is a process — a gradual transition. No one test or sign is enough to determine if you’ve entered perimenopause.Mayo Clinic
Choose someone who’s practice has shifted from primarily delivering babies to hormonal therapy. Otherwise, you’ll likely contend with rescheduled appointments and possibly lack of experience with your unique needs.
Other therapies like massage therapy, acupuncture, nutrition and psychotherapy are options to help you manage perimenopause. If you are fortunate enough to have access to a variety of practitioners, check them out thoroughly and choose wisely.
Research on acupuncture for decreasing hot flashes is inconclusive, but promising.Mayo Clinic
Start by controlling what you can today. Most of us can stand to improve our snack choices, move a bit more, and slow our minds. Investigate free apps and resources to support your efforts.
When To Worry
Experts agree on several physical and mental signs for concern. Make it a priority to do your research and discuss a game plan with your doctor. Be clear on what to expect during perimenopause and when you should reach out for help.
Bottom line, you know your body-listen to it. Even if none of these symptoms applies but you still feel something is “off”, don’t hesitate to check it out.
Grace and Humor
The good news-we’re in this together! Suffering in silence is not an effective coping strategy when you’re trying to manage perimenopause.
Just like the young adults and aging parents we’re sandwiched between, we need friends. Don’t let your busy schedule and family responsibilities shove your needs to the bottom of the list.
Find your tribe during perimenopause by starting the conversation. Ask trusted friends and family members if they’ve experienced the same symptoms. Chances are very good you’ll find compassion and shared stories.
Laughter brings us closer to people, moves us into more positive mind-sets, can stimulate our immune system, enhance our learning and memory, and help us cope better with the stressors in our lives. Laughter is a great menopause help.The North American Menopause Society
In my experience, confiding in another woman almost always ends in laughter. Once you’ve verified you’re not alone in this troubling phase, there’s a shared sense of relief.
Comedian Leanne Morgan gets it. Watch her video Things You Can Expect When You Get Old for a lighthearted look at perimenopause.
Talk to your family and ask for their support. Make them aware of your most troublesome symptoms and how they might help. You might be surprised at their level of understanding.
While it’s never OK to be the brunt of a joke, your children may help shoulder your burden with a lighthearted look at your symptoms. Don’t worry-you’ll get the last laugh when they’re dealing with perimenopause years down the road.
Disclaimer: This post is not meant to take the place of medical advice. Please consult your medical professional for help with your symptoms.