Signs you're reaching the perimenopause and 11 ways to survive it
Chances are, you're here because you wonder if you're experiencing the early symptoms of the menopause.
Very briefly, the menopause is a normal, natural phase in a woman's life, or the consequence of a medical intervention (e.g. chemotherapy or removal of the ovaries). Your ovaries are slowly producing less oestrogen. The gradual shift in hormone levels potentially causes a cascade of symptoms.
If not caused by medical intervention, it starts with the perimenopause which can begin one, two or more years before the actual menopause. This heralds the end of a woman's childbearing years and, hooray, the end of the monthly bleeds.
It's usually a midlife process, although for some women it starts early.
In this article, I'm aiming to help you understand what it means for you personally, your partner and your relationship. And, of course, I'll give you tons of tips and advice on how to make it a positive experience.
Let's start with the most common signs and symptoms. Know, though, that the experience of the (peri)menopause is a very personal one. It can be different for each individual woman.
The potential signs and symptoms of the menopause
Any or all of the following can be the first signs and symptoms of an early menopause (before age 40) and the perimenopause.
(Just in case, though, you may want to have your thyroid function checked by your doctor.)
And if that isn't enough...
And we haven't even talked about sex yet.
Pfffttt! I wouldn't be surprised if you've thought a few times that you'd better see a doctor and sort yourself out.
So let me reassure you right off: most of these are temporary problems. They’re likely to be caused by normal hormonal changes.
"A lot more men should get to know more about women's problems. It really helps to talk about it."
What you'll need to take into account
Know that all of these symptoms are connected. Stress alone, for example, may lead to tiredness, lack of sleep and difficulty concentrating.
I strongly advise you to just have a medical checkup. If those signs and symptoms are due to the menopause, you can most likely manage them yourself. But, it's important to first rule out any other health problems.
Why your friends symptoms may be more or less severe
We are all as individual as any star in the night sky.
Your DNA, medical history, diet and other lifestyle factors all play a role. Therefore, just like any other aspect in your life, comparing yourself to someone else is a waste of energy.
The good news is, though, that your psychology - your mental attitude - can make a whole lot of difference. Generally speaking, you're likely to suffer more if you allow those (peri)menopausal symptoms to become your everyday focus.
I accept though that of course there are some signs and symptoms you just cannot ignore.
In any case, my advice is that you first inform yourself about the menopause (that's why I'm chuffed youre reading this article) before you avail yourself of medical advice.
My focus is mostly on the psychology of the transition of your childbearing years into the next stage in life, and the effect it has on your relationship.
The physical and emotional side-effects of the menopause (and perimenopause) are all too real. But they can be even harder to cope with if the two of you have already been struggling to keep your relationship or marriage afloat.
What does all this mean for your relationship or marriage?
Perhaps the two of you were already having some problems before you even became perimenopausal (see my article on common relationship problems).
The menopausal signs and symptoms then only add another complication to what middle age may already present.
You may already be dealing with elderly parents, children leaving - or coming back - home, financial worries, job dissatisfaction, a feeling of being stuck etc.
I’m pretty sure neither of you bargained for any of these kinds of mid-life issues when you first got together (unless you met later in life)!
However, here's how your partner could potentially interpret the signs of what's likely to be 'the change'...
Any of these may or may not be true! In any case, the menopause is likely to play a significant role.
So, here is some advice on how to you can best approach your husband or partner...
3 Step plan with advice on how to engage your husband or partner
Your partner won't be able to read your mind.
My advice is that you take the time to explain the above first. You could also print this page for easy reading.
Move the conversation on
Say something like:
- "I know I'm ...., but I hope you now understand a little better what's happening."
- "I wonder what's it been like for you. Do tell me, please." (Then listen of course, without interruption.)
- "It would really help me if you would just..."
- "What can I do that would help/remind you?"
Make a plan to revisit this kind of conversation.
Plan a board meeting and to discuss all that's happening: the menopause, the kids, the grandkids, the house, the garden, the rent, the bills, the hols, whatever. Don't wait for issues to arise - anticipate them and together work on solving them.
Your partner needs:
- Good information (share this article with him/her);
- Explanation about what it all means to you personally;
- Preparation - when you know you're particularly moody, just let them know and reassure them that's its not about them;
- Apologies when you know you've lashed out for no good reason at all.
I suspect you wouldn't be here if you were sailing through the menopause without any problems. I hope, though, that this article has given you not only food for thought, but practical ways to help you both deal with the upheaval.
I hope too that you can see the menopause as an opportunity to say a fond farewell to a beautiful phase in your lives (I hope it was so for you, even if there were troubling times), and to look forward to the next chapter of your story together :-)
Please, rate this article ...
I really hope this article is of help to you. :-)
I frequently update my articles based on feedback, therefore I really value your vote.
Thank you so much in anticipation. :-)