This Can't Be Perimenopause, Can It?
Rollercoaster emotions—migraines—forgetfulness. But you’re too young for perimenopause, right? Maybe. Maybe not.
“Every woman’s body is different,” says Sheila Warren, RN, women’s health navigator at Gwinnett Medical Center. “Not just in the signs of perimenopause, but also in the fertility-to-menopause timeline. For some women, these signs may begin as early as their late 30s.”
What is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause is the transition as your body prepares to stop being able to bear children. While most women experience natural menopause between 40 and 58, with an average age of 51, signs can start years before.
“Know your family history,” advises Warren. “There may be a genetic component to the age at which you reach menopause, and to any signs you may experience.” But genetics doesn’t have to be destiny when it comes to easing this transition. “Today we have a wide array of mon-medical and medical ways to help ease uncomfortable symptoms.”
Is It Perimenopause, or . . .
am I having a bad day?
Your emotions may rollercoaster, from one extreme to the other. “Track it,” says Warren, “because it’s probably related to your cycle. See if there’s a correlation — is it two or three days before your cycle? During your cycle? Also track your sleep, as this can impact emotions.”
is it really hot?
First, make sure you’re staying hydrated. Protect yourself from the heat if you can — seek out air conditioning or shade, and avoid the hottest part of the day. Warren adds, “Be sure to wear layers you can take off as needed. Keeping a little fan in your purse can add the breeze you need, too.”
am I too keyed up to sleep?
We should always aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a night, but life can interfere with this--and so can perimenopause. “Try to keep your mind calm at night,” Warren advises. “Keep a pad and pen by the bed and jot a keyword so you can reassure your mind you’ll do it in the morning.” She also recommends stress-reducing activities. “Find what works for you: a bath, gentle yoga, an easy walk, one of the nighttime teas, or maybe a more strenuous exercise. But don’t do strenuous exercise too close to bedtime. If you’re a smoker, that, too, can negatively affect your sleep.”
. . .( what was I talking about?)
“We women multitask well, but if there’s a lot of forgetfulness, we need to step back and make a conscious effort not to multitask,” says Warren. “This is easier said than done!” Try time management techniques and limiting the time you spend on social media so you’re not trying to play catch up. Stay organized with a to-do list and a certain spot (even in your purse) for your keys, glasses or phone.
Skipping periods, extra-heavy periods, irregular starting and stopping, spotting—all these can happen in perimenopause. Warren advises to be prepared with feminine products wherever you go. She adds, “If your flow is so heavy you’re saturating a pad in an hour, or if the clots are bigger than a quarter, call your healthcare provider right away.”
am I just not “in the mood?”
“Along with grey hair, wrinkles and bifocals,” says Warren, “the vaginal area actually becomes shorter and narrower, so intercourse can be more painful. Plus, lower levels of estrogen can contribute to lower libido.” She advises people to spark their relationship with dates, watching romantic movies and uninterrupted time alone together.
“Whether you’re in perimenopause or not,” Warren adds, “we still recommend the usual good health guidelines.” Have clinical exams and tests annually, or on the schedule your healthcare provider recommends. Avoid tobacco, minimize alcohol consumption, reduce stress, eat a healthy diet, and achieve or maintain your ideal weight.
“Most importantly,” Warren adds, “if there’s a change in your body and if you don’t have peace of mind about it, see your provider.” With dedicated providers at Gwinnett Physicians Group OB/GYN, you can receive personalized care throughout every stage of life. You can also enjoy a free Health & Wellness Consult with our Women's Health Navigator where you will learn more about heart, breast, bone and sexual health, plus diet and exercise.