You’ve been warned about the angsty teenage years, you’ve been told how your 20’s will be a struggle and how lonely the 70’s might get – but were you ever given a heads up about the late 40’s?
The period of middle age is often described as stable, mature and sometimes even the best years of your life but for many women the choice of adjectives will be on the other end of the spectrum.
You see, this is the time when the end of your monthly periods sets in – slowly and agonizingly. The menstrual cycle is a bittersweet companion for 30+ years so it’s only natural to expect a painful farewell.
The time around menopause (specifically a year before it actually happens) is known as the climacteric or the perimenopausal period. Everyone will tell you about hot flushes during this time but that’s not the only sign perimenopause comes with. In fact, there’s a whole spectrum of symptoms and although many of them can be subjective and vary person to person, there are ways to tell if you’re headed to the beginning of an end.
The Obvious Signs: Hot Flushes, Weight Gain and Mood Swings
Perhaps the most well-known signs of perimenopause have always been hot flushes and night sweats. Feeling excessively hot or sweaty when you’re in the age group of menopause could be one of the earliest telling signs. Night sweats can especially be troublesome and keep you from getting a restful sleep.
Another ‘popular’ perimenopausal sign is a drastic shift in your moods. This could be anywhere from feeling blue to unexplained aggression and irritability. So if you’re feeling at edge around the standard menopause time, you can blame it on your declining hormone levels.
Gaining an extra few pounds that seem stubborn to lose is classic of an oncoming menopause as well.
The Not-So Obvious Signs
Perimenopause is more than mood swings and hot flushes; it’s a marriage of other signs and symptoms that can affect every woman in a different way. There are some shared signs that can sometimes be vague and not clearly obvious immediately but if you can manage to pick them up you can be better prepared for your inevitable menopause.
- Cognitive and memory problems: When you’re heading towards the end of your menstrual cycle, you might start finding it hard to concentrate or remember events. Of course this could be because of the natural aging process but there is enough evidence to link poor memory with menopause.
- Unexplained body aches and joint pain: As the level of estrogen slowly falls, your bone health starts to decline eventually leading to osteoporosis. This is a long process and can take years to develop into full-blown osteoporosis but joint aches and pain can set in early – even in the perimenopausal period.
- Itchy and dry skin: This might be a tricky sign to pick up especially if you already have dry skin. Women in the perimenopausal period do tend to develop drier and subsequently itchy skin – the exact cause is still a mystery.
- Changes in your hair: Hair tends to get brittle, thin, and falls off more easily during the perimenopausal period. If you’ve noticed a change in your hair quality overtime, it could be because you’re about to have your menopause. Don’t worry though – there’s nothing a good dose of hair vitamins and proper hair care can’t fix!
- Decreased sex drive: As the hormones in your body fall so does your sexual desire. You might experience a dry or sore vagina that hurts during intercourse or you might just never be in the ‘mood to do it’.
It’s Not All Bad News!
Perimenopause can feel like a stab in the back when you’re finally putting your life together but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Dietary and lifestyle changes can make benefit you greatly in coping with this stressful time and a positive attitude towards your body can make all the difference in the world.
If your perimenopausal symptoms are getting the best of you and constraining you from your daily activities, don’t hesitate to ask for professional help! Click here to schedule a free consultation with our doctor and see what your options are.