What would your armchair GP diagnosis be if you heard a 40-year-old lady explain the following symptoms: wildly fluctuating emotions, a fuse shorter than an Instagram-era attention span, spending the early hours unable to sleep despite liberal use of pillow spray, and a ‘lights out at 11 pm’ rule? Stress? PMS? At that age, it’s doubtful that you’d attribute these problems to perimenopause symptoms.
What exactly is perimenopause?
So there is just one day that counts as “menopause.” When we talk about menopause, we typically mean perimenopause, which is the period of time when you still have a monthly cycle, which may be more or less regular,’ explains Maisie Hill, a menstrual health expert, author, and coach who has studied Chinese medicine and worked as a birth doula.
1. The earliest signs of perimenopause might be subtle, according to Hill.
The conventional definition of perimenopause is when your cycle duration begins to fluctuate by seven or more days. ‘And then there’s the appearance of symptoms.’ However, some researchers have invented the phrase “very early perimenopause,” which is distinct from “early menopause” or “premature menopause.” This is when the variances get more subtle. So you don’t reach the threshold for the conventional definition, but there’s enough to suggest that something is changing – it might be that your cycles have shortened by a few days.’
2. They’re so mild that you might not notice they’re related to your periods.
With signs like the one above, there are always a million things to blame. Women in their 30s and 40s are dealing with a massive amount of stress, especially with the previous year’s strains, but even before COVID. This implies that there is always someone to blame: if you’re weary, it’s because you’ve been working hard or your children aren’t sleeping well.’
3. However, cycle tracking can be beneficial.
What is the solution? Cycling tracking This way, you can determine if your symptoms have a pattern and are spiking in the days before your period – a hallmark of perimenopause in its early stages. With a pen and paper, record the days and how you feel, or request Hill’s free cycle tracker or one of the many cycle tracking apps (just check their data privacy policies, first.)
4. Your perimenopausal symptoms will most likely change’
And yes, your estrogen levels do ultimately fall. It’s possible that your hormone levels are at an all-time high to start with. Keep track of your cycle and you might be shocked to find that on days when your estrogen levels are high, you shine, feel energized, and exude an aura of invincibility.
But, while estrogen is a ‘wonderful’ hormone, the body wants to get rid of it, according to Hill. The reason for this is that if it isn’t fully digested, it circulates and stays in your body. This is possible because levels of the hormone progesterone, which works in tandem with estrogen, have begun to fall.
5. You should learn more about HRT.
Warning: Using hormone replacement therapy is a personal decision that should be researched and managed by a qualified medical professional. Hill argues that the medication has also been connected to a significantly higher risk of breast cancer, despite the fact that it was supposed to reduce some of the above-mentioned symptoms by managing hormone levels. She believes this should be investigated after evaluating the evidence.