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!