Perimenopause – the storm before the calm?

Having reached the grand old age of 57 and survived both perimenopause and menopause, I often look back at the rocky road I’ve traveled and ask myself which of the two was worse. There’s so much hype about menopause that perimenopause very often gets overlooked. However, for me, perimenopause was my most challenging time by far. It came with a vengeance and with little warning. Unfortunately, the timing could not have been worse as it coincided with teenage children, divorce, domestic upheaval, and a brutal recession.

I can pinpoint the start of perimenopause to my early forties with an array of physical, mental and emotional changes – fatigue, mood swings, heavy periods, brain fog, and sleep disturbances to name but a few. Of course, all those years ago there was little help and advice available, so initially I attributed some of these changes to the stress of my situation. There were days when I would literally stumble around in a daze trying to keep everything together. I was physically and emotionally drained. But my worst symptom by far was anxiety. Who knew this is a common symptom of perimenopause? Not me, that’s for sure.

What had happened to me? Where had I gone? It felt like I was role playing the person I used to be. I felt fake, lonely, and isolated. Of course, when you are still having periods, your plight isn’t taken as seriously as menopause. However, I did the one thing I could. I had an IUD fitted (the Mirena coil) to end to my painful and erratic periods. That move alone helped enormously, and after five years I went on to have another fitted. A painful process both times, but both were well worth the discomfort.

By comparison, menopause was so much easier. I could never really pinpoint the start of it as I hadn’t had periods for years but there was a definite shift. Loss of libido, night sweats, hot flashes, dry skin, thin hair, depleted energy, and other new symptoms began to emerge. However, by this time, I knew what was happening and I had a new weapon up my sleeve. I had fallen in head over heels in love with yoga and this was to become my saviour.

Not only does yoga detoxify both mind and body, there are also specific poses and techniques that actually help relieve specific symptoms of peri/menopause. I practiced relentlessly and loved how it made me feel alive again. Yoga has taught me so much off the mat too; always listening to my body, treating myself with more kindness and enjoying patience for the first time in years. The only real hangover from menopause was my depleted energy levels. However, I recently plucked up the courage to have bio-identical hormone treatment as my testosterone levels were non-existent. Now, I feel like there’s no stopping me.

The lesson I’ve learned from my own journey is that perimenopause needs to taken much more seriously by both women and the medical profession alike. It’s actually defined as “around menopause” but in some cases in can start in our 30’s and last for up to 15 years! My advice would be to get help soon rather than suffer in silence. There are so many options now available. And, of course, if you want a wonderful holistic remedy; take up yoga!

If you are going through perimenopause and would like to know how yoga can help, click the link below to obtain a copy of my FREE e-book. It demonstrates a selection of yoga poses that can bring relief to your symptoms. Whilst some are restorative, others are energy boosting or focus specifically on symptoms such as hot flashes.

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