Say hello to the biggest dummy of all time, when it comes to menopause. Me. Most doctors I have had the displeasure of knowing will not take the time to answer all of my questions regarding this particular phase of life. So, I would like to put an official list on the Internet so those looking for answers like I was can find them here. Perimenopause can come on anywhere between the ages of 35 and 60, depending on your family history, lifestyle and dietary habits.
Possible symptoms of Perimenopause:
Decreased sexual drive
Increased sexual drive
Irregular and /or heavy periods
Involuntary urine release and bladder urgency
Vaginal dryness and painful intercourse
Nerve endings causing a rash around the neck (possibly other areas too)
Aching joints and muscles
Night sweats (When you have a hot flash at night, drenched in sweat)
Sudden chills after a hot flash.
What's causing all the ruckus? These are physiological responses to the body's declining level of estrogen. And it is all a perfectly normal and a natural process of life. It is that dreaded "Change" we've all heard so little about.
Not every woman will have symptoms of perimenopause. Most women do not have every symptom listed above. 75% of women who report having symptoms of perimenopause report having hot flashes. So chances are good, you will too. The best defense against these are drinking plenty of cold water throughout the day and taking a multivitamin that includes ALL of the B-vitamins to help regulate body temperature. Often times, this will put an end to them right here. But there are plenty of options available, including Hormone replacement therapy, lifestyle changes, behavioral changes, or dietary changes. That's why they call it "the change." You have to change everything. Explore them all.
You will notice most of the symptoms are anxiety related. The Migraines, insomnia, nerve rash on the neck, heart palpitations and panic attacks can all be helped by listening to classical music. Vivaldi, Mozart and others in d minor. It has been reported that this kind of music will work with the alpha waves in your brain., creating relaxation. "Elevator music" is what I always called it, but it works pretty good most days. Try not to eat a lot of meat. Eat vegetables and carbohydrates. And keeping your weight in check will be a huge benefit. I know this sounds like a contradiction in terms, "eat carbs and keep your weight in check." Believe me, you will feel better. Walking daily only 30 minutes or an hour will help to reduce stress significantly. If you can not do this, as I was agoraphobic for a while, buy a treadmill and try that. Or walk around your home while others are there to make sure you are okay. Don't be afraid to do this. I know how scary it is to worry about passing out and no one being there to help you. If 30 minutes doesn't help you sleep better at night, try an hour. If you feel like you need a better workout, please feel free to do more. All you can do is help yourself at this point. The more exercise you can do the better. Never put undue stress on yourself unless it is an emergency. Take care of you. If you don't feel like doing spring cleaning this year, don't. Or hire someone else to do it for you. If you can't muster up the strength to drive, don't. Let your body adjust to the changes and then make a go of it. Doctors and others will make you feel as if you HAVE to try to press through when you are feeling like you can't. DON'T. You may just have to take off from driving for a while and make other arrangements until you feel better. I had an aunt who had to stop driving for 8 years. What benefit would it have done her to put herself through undue stress everyday? This is a long term thing and adjustments have to be made until your body has finished the process. When it is all over, you can go back to being the socialite-athlete-superwoman you once were. You can even come back stronger if you take care of yourself. But just for now, relax. Do what you need to so you can take care of YOU.
Symptoms typically last two to ten years, officially, but I have heard of women going through these symptoms for 20+ years. Don't worry, 20+ years is normal. There's nothing wrong with you just because yours is lasting longer or shorter than the others. When your periods stop for a full twelve months, doctors consider this to be menopause. Often times, your symptoms will end once your body has adjusted to the new level of estrogen.
Foods that can help:
Sweet potatoes (No syrup)
Whole grains and fiber
Lots of Vegetables of all kinds and colors should be a big part of your diet.
Ice cold water
Things that can help not listed above:
A pap smear
A colonoscopy (Surgery may stop panic attacks due to colon problems)
Educational materials on menopause/panic attacks/perimenopause
People... (some may wish to avoid crowds, but people in general will help you focus on something other than your health condition) including reading to your children or helping them with their homework. Spending time in general with people sometime throughout the day.
Gardening, playing freesbie, reading, volunteer work, painting and other relaxing activities...
Keeping your environment clean and clutter free
Take mental vacations by going through travel magazines or visiting travel websites.
Invest in a water purifier
Repainting your living space to relaxing colors. Relaxing to me may be yellow but pink to you- so whatever feels best. If you paint it the wrong color, don't worry. It's only paint. You can redo it or have it redone.
Placing more rounded objects in your living/working spaces as opposed to boxy-type pieces of furniture. Studies show these to be softer and more flowing to your emotional health.
Things to refrain from during this time:
Caffeine in any shape, form or fashion. (coffee, tea, soda pop, chocolate, certain medications, diet pills)
Sugary foods (junk foods such as ice cream, candy bars, candy, etc..)
Hot liquids, especially spicy hot soups and coffee.
If you have panic attacks, in addition to above, but only if you find it bothers you and not simply because I say it will:
Antihistamines (including Dramamine and meclizine)
Loud, racy music
High traffic areas
High places in general
Loud sporting/recreational events
Scary/horror/action/drama films, television shows and plays
Largely crowded areas
Lying in the sun too long
Working in the sun too long
Overexposure to ANY heat source
Tunnels, caves, elevators, small rooms, etc...
Smoking sections and smoke filled rooms
Risky people who refuse to be considerate to your needs
Heavy fumes of any kind
Diet pills, patches and creams (even the decaf kind) because of certain herbal steroids in the active ingredients.
Yep, it can be tough. But remember this, every woman over the age of 60 has gone through it and they survived. Like giving birth, it's scary. It's big. But it's doable. Talking to others about it helps to let you know you are not alone and not feel so scared by it.
Now, I know this has been a long post. Like I said, I did it so others would be able to get some information to answer some questions like I had when I first started and had no one to turn to, or so I felt. This will always be attainable through a google search., albeit lost in a sea of other results, and helpful for others.