Not the Menopause

It’s not the menopause, well not as we know it

So I wanted to write about early signs of the menopause. This is the monthly prompt for The Menopause Diaries and unfortunately I am late for March rather than early for April. However, highlighting the trials and tribulations of the menopause is a positive thing to do, if not a positive thing to feel so I will go ahead and never mind if I am too late to enter my post.

I have early signs of the menopause. Well I feel like I do, but officially I don’t. I am in the not menopause. It is hard to know when your symptoms count because like so many other health related things, it is about ticking boxes. The fact that we are all unique and we all experience things differently seems to make little difference where certain aspects of health are concerned. I feel like a number, and I am not in the right group.

In many ways it doesn’t matter if I am considered to be experiencing signs of the menopause officially or not. My body is still my body and it will do what it does. But where it can matter is when you want to access some support or some treatment for your symptoms. If your hormones are going haywire and that is to do with the fact that you are aging and the levels are all off kilter, to me, explaining this as being the onset of the menopause would make sense.

However, things are not as simple as this. It seems that to be considered menopausal you must have had no period for 12 months. That is not me – my periods are still regular-ish. I am ok with this and was under no illusion that I had actually reached the menopause. What I did feel was that I was menopausal – experiencing changes due to fluctuating hormone levels. This is called peri-menopausal and is the time before your periods stop.

The signs I experience currently are a noticeable increase in hormonal migraines. I have cut out refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol and am (for the most part) plant based. Still I feel that my body is not my friend and that something other than lifestyle is causing the hormonal migraines. THAT WOULD BE THE HORMONES. I have night sweats. I have periods which can be extremely heavy or sometimes quite light but also come early or come late. I CALL THIS ERRATIC. I have breast and nipple tenderness which can last most of the month and bloating which is significant. THIS IS JUST UNFAIR!

Basically, I feel hormonal. I like to think that I am even tempered and that it does not affect my mood or my sex drive but HL suggests politely that this might not always be the case. So yes. I can be moody and snippy for too much of the month and can also feel low for no particular reason. I did not used to be like this. These are changes and I am in my 50s so I would attribute these to the onset of the menopause or being perimenopausal. THESE CHANGES ARE CALLED MOOD SWINGS ALTHOUGH WE DON’T USUALLY CALL THEM ANYTHING AS WE ARE PRETENDING THEY AREN’T THERE.

In other news, I need to urinate much more frequently than I did and this change is significant. I also find it much harder to control my weight and it seems not to be linked to diet or exercise but like the sort of gains that I have had at other times due to changes in hormones. I notice that I am losing more hair and sometimes it can fall out at an alarming rate. DEFINTIELY HORMONAL CHANGES. Basically, I don’t feel quite right so, with a focus on the migraines which are a real issue, I asked my GP for a blood test to check my hormones.

It took a while and visits to three different people before I found one who would authorise the test. And the results were disappointing. I am not peri-menopausal. I was not disappointed because I wanted to be, I was disappointed because I wanted to feel better. Instead I felt like I was imagining it and was being dismissed. When I questioned why I had these symptoms if it was not to do with the onset of the menopause the GP said that they couldn’t rule out the fact that these symptoms could be linked to hormonal changes which were to do with the menopause, but that the levels in my blood test indicated that I wasn’t. ERGO, I AM NOT EXPERIENCING SIGNS OF MENOPAUSE.

If you are confused then join the club. This was quite confusing for me too. I left, sort of happy that my hormone levels were fine but also unhappy that I had so many changes to deal with that there was no reason or explanation for. Except that I still feel that THEY ARE HORMONAL. I am old enough to know my body. I have been through puberty, 3 successful pregnancies and some unsuccessful and have dealt with the various changes caused by hormones during those times. I tried the contraceptive pill and felt that way that affected my body too.

Basically I think that I am right and the science is wrong. Maybe bodies don’t always know the rules. Maybe no one really tells them and so sometimes they go off piste. Whatever, if I am not qualified to join in with this prompt because I am still bleeding regularly and my hormone levels were in the normal range the day my blood was taken, then so be it. It is still an issue that should be highlighted in my opinion as the more that is known about it the better. With any luck my GP will read this and see the (early) signs!

Posted in Feeling Good, Health.

25 Comments

  1. Oh Missy, this had me giggling at times. You have written this in such a fun way! You are right and the science IS wrong. Back when I had the first signs of menopause, my hormone levels were fine too, but I was having night sweats and the occasional hot flush, a different mood, and the sore breasts/nipples. So, I definitely think you do qualify to write about menopause, because from what I read here, you ARE menopausal! Thank you for joining in!
    ~ Marie xox

  2. Yes! My hormone levels are fine.. husband & GP talk about its all medication.. but I know my body. Early to start menstruation..so early into peri-menopause I think

    • Yes there is likely some truth in that. I wasn’t that early which is maybe why I am taking a while now x

  3. Perl-menopause is its own thing and really there are no boxes to tick to say “yes, you’re on your way!” or “nope!” so it really is just a Know Your Own Body thing.

    If this is any help:

    My migraines are highly hormonal. I take hormonal birth control nonstop (no one-week placebo break for “bleed time”) which helps immensely. The irony being that I never had periods before I started the period-stop dosage anyway. (The severity of my PCOS means that I can count on two hands how many times I had periods from the time I got married until now. nd some of those periods were “forced” [medically induced].)

    I took hormone therapy (medroxyprogesterone) before I agreed to the birth control and it was a NIGHTMARE. The OCPs don’t cause me any Psycho Lady type problems, yet they basically perform the same function (just in a roundabout way). So it works for me.

    Since I’ve already eliminated as many dietary and environmental triggers as I can, the added benefit of hormonal regulation via OCPs has reduced the average number of headache days I experience each month significantly.

    • Perhaps I should try something like that. Friends recommended the marina coil too but I have also heard bad things. Sometimes I feel it’s better the devil you know! x

  4. Good luck with it – these medical results often don’t give the answers expected – for myself, I never go to the doctors, at least not till I’m on my knees! LOL The Mrs tho, she had low iron, so low they said she ought to be dead – another time her blood pressure was so low, they were out to bury her, but then that too tuned out to be a bit of a blind alley – they ought to study the old Hammer Horror films, Vampirism you know, its not so far fetched! 😉

    • I know that is serious but I like that you have found a numerous side. So often we don’t match with what the science says do we c

  5. Loved reading this post, and the comments, it’s all comforting to my own experience. You clearly know your body and what’s going on with it. Medical science has never done a good job in my opinion of really understanding women, I hope that changes someday.

    For me the worst part is the headaches but I notice a lot of what you write about. I have been thinking that the mood swings are undoubtedly affected by hormones but that also, being angry as a middle aged women is totally reasonable! Society often shames women for the things we feel and the ways our bodies work and I say f*ck that. Having moods is not something to be embarrassed about as long as you are still treating people and loved ones well. Sometimes my reactions come stronger now and it scares me, but I really do think it’s a reasonable growth from a lifetime of trying to be too nice because that’s expected. Just my opinion, not medical science!

    Wishing you well, it’s great to read your thoughtful self analysis.

    • I know what you mean about knowing that other people get it so you comment means a lot Lexie. Thank you. I am really pleased that Marie is highlighting this area as it is not visible enough I don’t think. Missy x

  6. You have written this so well Missy, I really enjoyed your monologue voicing itself throughout. I certainly think your voice is well placed and valuable in the diaries, the menopause is certainly a varied experience for all and it shouldn’t be about ticking boxes or dismissed because you haven’t ticked enough.

  7. While I am not menopausal, I understand what you are experiencing. I have a lot of hormone fluctuations with my PCOS, and my labs always come back normal. (Fortunately I have a doctor who is wonderful and understands that I know my body better than she does, so she listens to me when I say something is wrong.) My primary doesn’t listen to anything I say, regardless of what it is about. If I tell her I have been experiencing pain, she just blinks at me and nods. I had to diagnose my sciatica and tell her what I thought it was before she would listen to me. (This is why my gynecologist diagnosed my fibromyalgia instead of my primary…the latter doesn’t believe me.)

    I firmly believe we know our bodies and good doctors take that into consideration. Just because the tests don’t pick up on something doesn’t mean it isn’t there and we aren’t experiencing it. This just means science hasn’t caught up with us.

    • I am sorry that you have such a tough time with you health but I do totally get what you say about knowing your body. I think fibromyalgia is so difficult as they don’t seem to understand it at all. Thank you for commenting. Missy x

    • Thank you for sharing your own experience here and I can relate to so much of what you are saying. It is good that you have one Dr who understands and listens as that is important. I am fortunate that this will hopefully pass in time but it does give me great sympathy with those who have longer term issues which are not being heard. Missy x

  8. I have learned that most people say menopausal when they actually mean peri-menopausal. Once your bleeding has stopped for more than a year the symptoms generally stop. The stories are typically about the journey to menopause … I started in my mid/late 30’s – talk about misunderstood! LoL 10 yrs in now and I’m ready for this roller coaster to be done!! My hEDS may have something to do with the prolonged trip, who knows!

    Have you watched ‘menopause the musical’? OMG it is right on about so much of what we go through, and it’s funny. You haven’t, maybe give it a try!

    • Hi and thanks for your comment. I haven’t seen the musical though found the idea entertaining. I think what confused me was that my levels didn’t count as peri-menopausal either which seems wrong in light of the symptoms. There must be a threshold I guess. Missy x

      • I know there are many conditions that don’t show in blood tests unless you are in the midst of a ‘flare’ as we call it. It is most likely the same issue but like others said, you know your own body better than anyone. Just keep listening to it. 🙂 Take care, n. 🙂

  9. You wrote well about it here. I, however, did not see the fun here about which they write. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I think this applies to many women.

  10. Speaking as a male, I think your doctors are in error. From your symptoms, you appear to be going through the change. We the public call it “being in menopause “. Really I suppose we’re really saying the journey to menopause has started. You know your body. Your doctors know textbooks.

    • Yes I agree. I think they often go by the science too much. When I was in labour they told me I wasn’t. They didn’t believe me until they checked and saw the baby’s head. Even then they didn’t admit I was right. Not that it mattered by then! x

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