I have worked in healthcare for the last two decades, with a primary focus on women's health, and I thought I knew it all. As a woman, I have gone through my monthly periods, fertility, childbirth, breastfeeding, motherhood, even trying not to get pregnant-- the whole gamut. Moreover, I met with thousands of women worldwide on a similar journey with their bodies. Throughout this journey I never even heard the word "perimenopause." I, of course, heard about menopause but always in a negative context, implying that it is your "change," the end of you as a woman, mixed with being moody, angry, and of course, your periods stopping.
I didn’t bother to educate myself further, as I viewed it all as inevitable and perhaps even uncomfortable. Menopause, let us face it, has a bad image! And perimenopause is rarely discussed at all.
Here are the 7 things I wish knew about perimenopause:
1. I would experience missed periods
Seeing as I still had regular periods into my late 40s, I had no idea there was a waiting build-up period of perimenopause. I recall traveling with my then-lover in Europe and I could not understand why I had missed my period for the first time in recent memory. Instead, I pegged it to jet lag, lots of sex, and the trauma from a sudden death in my immediate family. As many women do, I pushed it to the side and just dealt with it.
A few months went by and still no period. I then started to worry that I might be a new mother in her 50's! Nope, the period came again and, yes, I was firmly in the stage of perimenopause. I asked my friends about it, because perimenopause was continuously neglected during my regular doctors' check-ups. As it turns out, you are not actually in full menopause until you have had a whole calendar year without a period.
2. I would have gut issues
Perimenopause can go on for years. So while my period had paused, I still experienced gut issues (oftentimes associated with my period) and the uncomfortable, unattractive bloat that comes with it.
In addition to the bloat, I started to develop abnormal reactions to some food. That’s when I decided to take the natural route and try Ayurveda, which is a non traditional ancient Indian medicine of mostly different types of herbs. It’s now become part of my morning routine.
3. I would have trouble sleeping
As an extension of uncomfortable gut issues, I had trouble sleeping, awoke in the middle of the night in a sweat (sexy right?) and became rather irritable. This went on for weeks, even months, at a time.
4. I would experience vaginal dryness
Part of what made me irritable at night was vaginal dryness-- not exactly something one thinks about when trying to sleep. Fortunately, I discovered a few completely natural ways to help-- probiotics, oils, a range of supplements, and a simple over the counter sleep aid. Each one helped to keep me asleep through the night.
5. My sex drive would decrease
As a result of the vaginal dryness my sex drive decreased. But I realized that there is absolutely no need to suffer. Once I educated myself on the changes I was experiencing, and learned how to handle these changes, my mindset began to change. I was no longer uncomfortable (okay, maybe some of the time) or afraid. I was confident and prepared. I’m happy to report that I am now having the best sex of my life and it didn’t come from a pill.
6. I would have hot flashes
In the mornings I would drink my coffee and suddenly get so hot that I would start perspiring. It would last for just a few minutes but became so overwhelming that I needed to stick my head in the refrigerator. This inspired me to seek out a great cooling face spray (which you can now find in our shop).
7. I would have brain fog
When I worked on my computer there were moments where I’d forget the name of my colleague I had worked with for two years. Or become unable to form a cohesive sentence and stumble over my words. What I thought was a brain aneurysm was actually brain fog! Thankfully, some Ayurveda nutrients have really helped me with that.