October is Menopause Awareness month & the 18th October 2022 is World Menopause Day.
Firstly, I asked YOU to send me questions that you have about your symptoms or questions you have. Here they are in one place:
Qu: I am 38 yrs old. A year ago, I started experiencing vertigo, badly. When I asked the GP if it could be peri-menopausal she almost laughed at me. Is vertigo, along with bad fatigue & then a UTI – all signs I could be going through early menopause?
An: Many women and even medics, don’t think about the menopause if they have symptoms in their 30’s. However, 3-4% of women worldwide go through something called ‘Premature Ovarian Insufficiency’ (POI).
Yes – vertigo IS a perimenopausal symptom, though not one of the most common ones.
- This lady who has asked the question, has since had a number of different symptoms – UTI’s, extreme fatigue, . Now the GP is taking more notice & has acknowledged she may be peri-meno.
- My advice here is ALWAYs go to the GP equipped with what you are going through. Obviously, peri-menopausal symptoms can be associated with so many other illnesses or generally exhausted states.
- However, if things continue to not improve and you begin to experience more symptoms then go armed with the examples of early menopause AND a list of the symptoms.
- GP’s ARE becoming more aware of early menopause symptoms, so do keep making them aware of them, especially IF you are going through early onset menopause.
Qu: What can we do (if anything) in the years before menopause to help? Like starting exercise or getting informed, rather than burying our heads in sand
An: This is a great question, as I keep saying, knowledge & awareness is power!
- The 1st thing I would suggest is to start (if you haven’t already) to take much more notice of your periods. Get a period diary. Note down your cycle and how heavy / light you tend to be.
- Start asking your mother or older sister when they think they started going through the menopause. Also, find out if parents have/had osteoporosis
- Don’t ignore all this information about the peri / post menopause that is now out there. Don’t think ‘I have years before it hits me’. Some can start experiencing symptoms in their late 30’s – some can even go through it (not very common) in their 20’s!
- Understand that the menopause is not just about symptoms. It should be embraced as a new chapter in your life. The more aware of your body and your health & the better informed you are, the easier it will be to get used to.
- Most importantly – start thinking about your bone health. This to me, is the most over looked area in the menopause. If you have a sedentary job, you swim or cycle but do nothing much else – START WALKING at least. Your bones NEED impact to keep strong. After the age of mid 30’s they start to lose bone density. Get into walking/running/doing weights/dance/aerobics – anything that you enjoy and which will have a positive impact on the bones!
Finally – YOU ARE NEVER TOO YOUNG TO START LEARNING SOMETHING ABOUT THE NATURAL PROCESS THE FEMALE BODY GOES THROUGH. It WILL happen so learn about it – start listening to your body & move!
Qu: I would love to know more about heavy bleeds in peri-menopause please! I seem to be well into it now and have alternated between months of no period and more recently the most heavy bleeding I’ve ever experienced
An: Changes in the volume & regularity of your monthly bleeds is a common sign you are perimenopausal.
- In the earlier stages of your menopause transition you may find you have longer periods (up to 7 days) & maybe miss a period or 2.
- You may find you have some very heavy months of bleeding and other months hardly anything at all. Its part of the menopause transition.
- In the later part of your peri-menopause you may find you have less periods – maybe go 60 or 90 days between periods. This is a sign you are getting nearer to your menopause/post menopause time.
- Often you may get more hot flushes, insomnia, brain fog etc in the later phase of your peri-menopause.
If you have been getting very heavy periods for a while you could be coming nearer to the end of your peri-menopause stage. Keep an eye on the periods and how heavy you are and if they continue more regularly, then maybe you should ask the GP.
Qu. Not sure if you’ve ever covered hair thinning before? I’m 39 so it could be moving towards perimenopause?
An: An interesting question. This lady has also had a lot of stress in her life, so whilst, yes hair loss/thinning is something that happens in the peri-menopause, stress can have an impact on hair.
- There haven’t been many studies done on hair loss. However, as we age the cycle of hair growth shortens. Hair follicles (which make the hair grow) do not re-grow hair, hence it thins.
- Women are more prone to lose it at the front of their heads, but it is influenced genetically.
- Stress & lifestyle – like too much yoyo dieting and sudden cutting out of carbs can also affect the hair.
Qu: How much is our mental health affected in the perimenopause? I can’t put my finger on it, I just feel low & just not myself. Is this normal or am I depressed?
An: This is such a big area, such an important area in the menopause.
- It may start with you just feeling ‘not right’ or ‘not myself’.
- You may feel you can’t be bothered to do much, or seem to have lost your get up and go.
- You may have started to just feel anxious, again can’t put your finger on why
- Maybe you have had some heart palpitations, which have increased your anxiety
- You may feel really very down, having never experienced depression, but now feel like you are properly depressed.
- You may get very irrational and feel like you are doing silly things and ‘losing it slightly’
- You just feel really stressed and cant cope with even what may be quite small things you wouldn’t have stressed about in the past.
All of these are different feelings women have in the menopause. Obviously, everyone is different, but one of these sort of feelings / points may shout out at you – ‘oh my goodness, yes that is me’.
Basically, it is all around the drops or highs of the sex hormones. We have neurotransmitters in our brain which can affect or are affected, depending on which one, by our sex hormones. Often it is around the drop off of the calming hormone progesterone. However, some women are actually intolerant to progesterone, so by taking progesterone could cause the low moods/irritability.
Too much to go into now, but just be aware of how you feel straight after ovulation and just before your period (for those still having periods). HRT can help if you are not intolerant to progesterone.
These are just a few questions I have been presented with. If you have a question, always email me. I may not know the answer but I can lead you to support or some excellent books on the peri/menopause.
Have a look at these blogs on similar women’s health issues: