Lately, you have noticed that your body doesn’t feel the same as you plod through your day. You bring up the subject with your doctor only to be told you are too young to even think about menopause. Go home and put a fan in the bedroom and take off the extra blankets. There is a difference between a warm room and a hot flash. It’s likely perimenopause that you are experiencing.
You recall reading a few times about menopausal symptoms that you will have to face someday. Only now you are experiencing a few night sweats, irritability and mood swings, a drop in your libido, and incredible fatigue. If you exercise regularly, you are frustrated to find your body is packing on a couple of pounds. You still get your monthly periods and haven’t noticed many changes in that area, but still you can’t shake the feeling that things are not the same.
But how to explain all those symptoms when you are only in your thirties?
Perimenopause or the phase that leads up to menopause itself is a relatively new term, one that some doctors may not be very familiar with. However, the symptoms an increasing number of women are facing indicate that our bodies can start menopause earlier than we thought. Perimenopause is the early stages of this transition as we age and is not just all in our heads.
Our mothers and grandmothers went through ‘the change’ during an era when many medical conditions were not openly discussed. Common beliefs at that time indicated that most of what women experienced was due to their imaginations or hysterical female tendencies. Similarly today, perimenopause is not taken seriously when younger women complain of having symptoms.
Perimenopause begins just as many women are at the busiest points in their lives, making it easy to blame fatigue on our multi-tasking lifestyles. It is confusing to think about perimenopause starting at a young age, but the whole menopause cycle itself is a lengthy process that can take several years to work through. The difficulty lies in that no two women will experience menopause in the same way, even within families. There is no real way to predict when a woman will begin the process. Contrary to some myths, there is no direct link between how young a woman is when she first menstruates and when she will start menopause.
If you are ‘too young’ but still notice perimenopausal symptoms, record their frequency and severity. Irritability, fatigue and lack of interest in life events and libido can be caused by trying to do too much. By keeping track of perimenopausal symptoms, you can determine the symptoms that show up without an apparent cause. Our increased awareness of our bodies keeps us far more in tune with ourselves than past generations and in turn helps us understand that the changes happening to our bodies are very real.
Talk to your doctor about your findings and the concerns you may have. Taking steps to become more proactive in your health can give you the tools you need to broach the subject with your doctor. Perimenopause is a good time to start gathering information about menopause and recognize how it can impact your life. We can certainly feel too young to have to be dealing with menopause, but the earlier we understand what to expect the better prepared we will be as we move through menopause.
Menopause, Your Doctor, and You