The average age of menopause is 51. Contrary to popular belief, menopause is not a long-drawn-out period of time. “Menopause” is actually a one-day event that marks the one-year -birthday of your last period. Although the end of bleeding might feel celebratory, many women are confronted with difficult thoughts around aging and attractiveness, weakening bones, forgetfulness, mood changes and fatigued and sore bodies.
Perimenopause is the stage before menopause. While this stage doesn’t get as much time in the spotlight, it is largely responsible for the negative press that menopause receives. The months and years leading up to menopause are notoriously accompanied by rage, anxiety, unpredictable buckets of sweat, burning hot flashes, roiling emotions, brain fog, vaginal dryness, and seemingly endless sleepless nights.
So, when can women expect this hormone horror show to start?
For some, perimenopause begins during our thirties. However, for the majority of us, these shifts can be expected in our forties. This transitional time can last for a duration of two years, but for some people, this period may expand over a decade.
The current age leaves women faced with so many challenges and conflicting messages: Enrich and plan all the extracurriculars and summer camps through 2029 for your kids but don’t overschedule them; throw elaborate birthday parties and contribute to your RESPs; with your wee bits of time be gorgeous but in an effortless way and be a well-behaved girl at work so that you are the most liked to earn a fraction of what you deserve – you get it. It’s infuriating.
Although the WHO has declared the pandemic officially over, the experience has thrown our nervous systems into a vortex of chaos where simply completing our regular everyday to-do list seems overwhelming. We might be in the wake of recovery and healing from the last couple of years of tumultuous and unpredictable existence, however our hormones have paid the price.
Our emotional burden has increased 10-fold (1000-fold?) leaving us exhausted and burnt out. Even the word burnt out feels burnt out. The compounded effects of our daily experiences with the external trauma of the pandemic have made it difficult and confusing to make sense of our body’s experience.
Do I feel this way because of the pandemic? Is this perimenopause? Or is this pandemic perimenopause?
The fact is that increased stress hormones (cortisol) can greatly influence our biological reproductive systems – intensifying our menopausal symptoms.
So, how can you tell whether you have just “lost your mind” or are entering a new menopausal phase?
Well, you can’t unless you educate yourself on perimenopausal symptoms. Why is it that during massive hormonal changes during pregnancy, there are frequent check points with our doctors, midwifes and OBGYNS to maintain a healthy outcome for mother and child, but when it comes to menopause and perimenopause, women’s health is dismissed and attributed to aging with a lack of support? (WTAF?!?)
Let’s start talking about these symptoms not just amongst women, but amongst people of all ages and genders. Let’s invite everyone to this party so that women are supported and understood rather than shamed for this natural biological transition that provides life, purpose, beauty and legacy.
Perimenopausal symptoms include, but may not be limited to:
- Changing cadence of period cycles e.g. periods that move closer together and/or further apart
- Menstrual flow may be heavier or lighter and the length of bleeding can be longer or shorter
- Increasing Pre-Menstrual symptoms (PMS)
- Anger, irritability and rage
- Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep
- Brain fog and forgetfulness
- Breast tenderness
- Headache sand migraines
- Day and night sweats and flushes
- Cold flashes
- Joint and muscle aches and pains
- Mood changes of anxiety and depression
- Panic attacks
- Vaginal dryness
- Pain with penetration
- Decreased libido (not surprising given the two preceding symptoms)
- Bladder changes such as urgency, urination at night, leakage, inability to hold urine
- Itchy skin
- Hair loss and thinning
- Bowel changes of constipation and diarrhea
- Metabolic changes of weight gain, increased cholesterol and elevated blood pressure.
My friends, menopause matters. The British Menopause Society estimates that over 1/3 of women in perimenopause will not receive the support they need from their health professionals and sit in silence suffering. By 2025 there will be over 1.1 billion women in menopause. This means that currently, there are a lot of angry sleepless ladies running the world. There are solutions – herbal, nutritional, natural, and bio-identical hormones.
Girls, we run this mutha (yeah).
Now let’s feel our best doing it.
Give us a call. You deserve to feel absolutely amazing.
With much love and kindness,