I wrote a post about perimenopause in November 2014. In that post, I wrote about what causes the onset of perimenopause, when it normally starts, what are the symptoms, and some general steps to help relieve those symptoms. It also includes a really cool (and funny) music video! You can read that post HERE.
Today I wanted to talk a little more about perimenopause. In particular, I wanted to share the latest treatments that I am personally trying to help with my symptoms and how they are going.
I don’t think that perimenopause and/or menopause is talked about enough between women. Too many women are on solo journeys covering ground that others have trod before them. I think the more we talk about it, the less we will be embarrassed to talk about it, and the less alone we will feel as we meander our way through all the medical jargon and frustrations (such as the comment that peeves me the most “your hormone levels are normal for your age” grrr!) and alternative options out there to try and help ourselves.
We can learn so much from each other!!
I’d like to see women sharing stories more and by doing so helping each other navigate their way through this hormonal roller coaster and I’m not afraid to share my experiences in order to get the conversation going. I started the conversation in my last post and in the comments you can see that there are quite a few women out there who go through perimenopause and/or menopause at a much younger age than is considered the average (around age 50) – eg some as young as early 30’s! Hearing each other’s stories is not only a way to learn but also such great therapy for those who have struggled alone for long periods of time!
Let’s create a PERIMENO sisterhood, share our stories and combine our knowledge!
If you think this is all such a long way off for you well it may well be but I would recommend that you read, listen, and learn. Forewarned is forearmed! (as the saying goes)
Ok – now let’s talk about me! I have many perimenopausal symptoms – weight gain, anxiety, sleep issues & more but the number one thing that is impacting my life the most is the fact that I am ruled by my cycles and I only have a short window of around 5 days in every 4 weeks where I feel reasonably normal. Like many women at this phase of life, I am oestrogen dominant, producing practically zilch progesterone! My cycles go something like this:
STAGE 1 (approximately 5 days)
Ovulate – several days of pain in ovaries. Bloating commences and breasts become tender.
STAGE 2 (approximately 14 days)
Pressure Cooker Build Up – Phase A – bloating worsens; breast tenderness worsens; pressure cooker feeling starts to build; lots of headaches and migraines.
Pressure Cooker Build Up – Phase B – bloating and breast tenderness reach epic proportions, pressure cooker feeling building rapidly, very emotional & mood becomes darker and crankier (severe PMS). Towards the end of this phase the pressure cooker feeling has taken over and I’m incapable of normal functioning. Shocking migraines, murderous tendencies (said tongue in cheek – you KNOW what I mean!) and desperate for the pop! DANGER, DANGER! KEEP A WIDE BERTH!
STAGE 3 (approximately 5-7 days)
POP goes the pressure cooker and we have a period! Blessed relief from Stage 2 – Phase B symptoms. It’s safe to be around me now but it’s not the time to suggest going on a hike ok!! First 2-3 days so heavy I don’t like to leave the house. Lots of pain but relief obtained by taking Naprogesic’s (I love those things!). First 3 days = Very tired. No energy. Completely depleted.
STAGE 4 (approximately 5 days)
Period is over and we enter the ‘Sweet Zone’. This is where I get my little window of normalcy. It usually lasts for around 5 days but sometimes (rarely) 7. I am such a nice person in this stage!! Then the cycle begins again.
I do not believe that any woman should have to live like this yet so many of us do! I am trying to find a way to alleviate these symptoms so that I can live a more comfortable, happy, stable and balanced life – as I deserve to!
Many women find relief from heavy periods with a Mirena IUD and that is great. I have had doctors recommend this to me. It’s not for me though, plus as evidenced above, I have many more symptoms that impact my life far more than the 2-3 days of a heavy period so this would not hugely benefit me.
A TREATMENT THAT HAD A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON ME: Not long ago a doctor recommended that I go on a low oestrogen pill and that by doing this it would alleviate all my symptoms. It would level out my moods, make my period less heavy etc. I was not keen on going on a pill as I was concerned about blood clots. However, I was very keen for some relief from my symptoms so after being told that this pill had been around a long time and was considered a safe option, I decided to give it a go. Going on that pill was a BIG mistake for me. I started getting headaches straight away. This was followed by an upset stomach and reflux. I persisted though because I thought these were just temporary side effects as my body adjusted to the pill. But then my mood darkened and darkened to a level that was frightening. It took me a while to realize that the pill might be to blame but eventually I did and I stopped taking it. Within 4 days of stopping taking the pill, my mood had returned to normal and the headaches and reflux stopped. Obviously this wouldn’t happen to everyone who took this pill but it did to me and I thought it important that I share this as it is something to be aware of. Hormones are tricky things and a sudden change in levels like that can have either positive or negative impacts! For me – it was very negative!
So what did I decide to try next?
Yep – I decided to see a Naturopath and try some natural remedies. You can see what I have been taking in the image at the top of this post.
- Femme Premenstrual – contains ingredients to help with the Premenstrual Syndrome symptoms, relieving symptoms such as breast tenderness, moodiness, headaches, bloating, and fluid retention. On the back of the container it also says that Vitex has been included to promote the production of progesterone. Vitamin B6 may help to relieve emotional symptoms of PMS such as irritability and tiredness.
- Estro-Sense – can assist female health conditions associated with oestrogen dominance. It is indicated in the relief of menopausal symptoms and medically diagnosed cyclical mastalgia and fibrocystic breast disease. Features BioResponse® DIM, a unique and highly absorbable diindolylmethane as found in cruciferous sources with demonstrated clinical activity.
- The three bottles are mysterious concoctions made up by my Naturopath specifically to treat my various symptoms.
So how’s the natural way going?
I first saw the Naturopath on Christmas Eve (just 2 days before Stage 1 of my cycle commenced) and I have seen her once again since then. So, it’s only been around one month that I have been taking all the above. Nevertheless, I have felt improvements already.
- No more bloating
- Rarely getting headaches, only on the couple of days prior to a period.
- Less ridiculously emotional
- Pressure cooker feeling has lessened
So, it seems that Naturopathy is assisting me with my symptoms! I am very interested to see how the next cycle goes and if there are further improvements having been on this treatment for longer.
Only negative = cost!! Seeing a Naturopath is $$ expensive $$. You can only claim on the consultation … not all the medicines!
Do those cycle stages look familiar to you? Care to join the PERIMENO sisterhood? Have you been to a Naturopath for perimenopausal or PMS symptoms? Did you find some relief? I’d love to hear of your experiences! Lets keep this conversation going!
Ciao for now,
PERIMENO = PERI represents perimenopause and is red cos ‘der’ you’re still having periods! MENO represents menopause and is brown coz um no more more periods um dried up creek bed? Perhaps it should be a celebratory pink or purple? What do you think – what colour would use to represent no more periods then hmm? 😉
[This post is linked up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT]