Ugh what is this? You’re feel irritable, your body is rebelling against you and emotions are bubbling very close to the surface. You’re still having periods and are far too young to be thinking about menopause – but could this be peri-menopause?
What is happening to you?
Periods that were regular as clockwork are suddenly all over the place – from short to long cycles: the odd spot to a tsunami! What is going on?
Perhaps you’ve been on hormonal contraception that means you’ve no idea what your periods would be doing if they were here….but you feel bloated and crampy.
Could this be peri-menopause?
In my previous article on working around your menstrual cycle, I compared our cycle to the 4 seasons of the year.
In a nutshell, this described how our period starting would herald the start of Spring. The pre-menstrual hiatus and heaviness eases and your energy returns. This continues into “Summer” with a warm mood; until the storm of ovulation brings you into “Autumn”.
Mellow moods and slightly less energy give way to the pre-menstrual period of “Winter” where you’d happily eat everything in sight, and bite people’s heads off too. Then the whole cycle repeats.
Understanding how your cycle affects you in different stages can be a great insight to managing your energy, nutrition, exercise, work and social engagements too.
I’ve worked with many women who feel they’ve been given a new lease of life simply by using my tracking protocol and understanding their body.
But now it doesn’t work.
Winter seems to be taking forever and it’s not giving the same signals as it used to.
Before cramps and cravings for chocolate (above the norm!) would give the “Ah I know what’s happening” but this cycle seems to be melons that feel like Mike Tyson’s punchbags and an overwhelming wish to cry.
So how do you track and manage your cycle when your cycle is reinventing itself every month??
Welcome to the joys of peri-menopause!!
Or is it?
The first thing to note is it is important to listen to your body and understand if this truly is peri-menopause, or something else. If you feel unwell, constantly drained or struggling to cope in any way, please do visit your doctor.
Hormone tests to establish whether the menopausal transition is at work aren’t necessarily a great predictor but your doctor will also be able to test other health markers to give you a clearer picture of why you may be feeling as you are.
If you are less than 45 and feeling this way & it’s due to peri-menopause, there may be a good case for HRT if your periods completely stop (especially if they completely stop before you reach 40).
Simply use the motto – if in doubt, check with your doc.
That aside, what can you do to stay human, feminine, fun and sane through your peri-menopause?
Well I still do recommend tracking. This gives us an ongoing recount of how your journey is progressing and may yield some underlying trends.
Just the action of tracking puts us more in tune with our bodies and gives us a feeling of doing something positive, which can help prevent feeling out-of-control.
Also, if you know you’re in, say “Autumn”, however long that season is lasting, at least you know what your body needs during this stage of your cycle, in terms of physical movement, nutrition, rest and support (you can check out my original article for more on this here).
It also gives you the opportunity to communicate with those around you.
Talking to your other half and immediate family to explain you don’t find their jokes at all funny at the moment & are likely to get pi$$ed off even quicker than usual if they leave their pants on the floor/ don’t clean up / ask you about “X” one more time….& this is why.
At the time of writing, my boys are 12 and 9. I see an ironic humour in the fact that I’m going through peri-menopause as my 12 year old goes through puberty.
Whilst I don’t disclose the details of breast discomfort or abdominal cramps to my boys, their Dad certainly gets all those details. So he knows when to help more, when to step well back and when to just hand me the chocolate!
And my boys are free to ask me questions about menopause. I talk to them about where my mood and energy is – my eldest going through puberty actually provides me with a great comparison point in these discussions….but what could you relate your’s too?
Part of my hope for the future is that menopause becomes included in sex education in schools.
So that all girls have a frame of reference – a little bit of information in the back of their minds – for when this part of their womanhood journey arrives.
And so that all boys can understand and support their partners, mothers, sisters, friends and work colleagues from a position of empathy and understanding rather than irritation, impatience and disdain.
All too often, the ladies I work with only have comedic references to guide them through their perceptions and experiences of menopause.
They feel so much more in control and confident when they understand what their body is doing AND HOW THEY CAN SUPPORT IT.
My top tip for peri-menopause & beyond is to embrace it.
We can’t avoid it, we can’t pause it…can we change it?
Whilst we may not be able to change the process, we can influence how we cope with it, how we support our mind and body and therefore, how it feels for us.
There are 4 common triggers for well known effects of menopause such as hot flashes, night sweats and fatigue
….and it’s interesting that we can be relying on something to “get us through”, without realising it’s triggering an exacerbated menopausal effect.
Are aspects of your life – your choices and habits – making your menopausal journey worse?
And does this mean you need to live like a nun and give up everything that you love?
Everything is a choice – your choice.
Knowing you have the choice and taking action on that gives you an element of control – how would that feel?
So notice how you are feeling. These sensations get mushed up in a foggy mess in the day-to-day rush. So keeping a diary can be really helpful. Notice any patterns in what you’re feeling, in where your energy is, in how hungry you feel.
About how you’re feeling.
What you want to do.
How you want to feel and what you’re craving (this might be something other than chocolate(!) like movement, space, freedom or a hug).
Grab a drink and create a half hour window to sit and savour that drink whilst you think through what your body would really like right now, and how you want to feel.
Work back from there, starting with one little step to take towards that.
And if you would like help with that, get in touch.
Lisa is a Mum of 2 boys, living and coaching life through peri-menopause using movement, mindset and nutrition as tools of support rather than sticks to beat ourselves with. Specialising in supporting peri-menopausal women feel great in their bodies, understanding and supporting the changes their body is going through, particularly around their pelvic floor health.