6 ways perimenopause is killing me
Oh, perimenopause, that little reminder that your body is transitioning into a new season of womanhood. The biological cause is decreasing estrogen; the physical symptoms range from hot flashes to an insane amount of anxiety. Either way, if your experience was anything like mine—meaning complete denial, major weight gain, and enough anxiety and anger to detonate a missile—I’m here for you. Perimenopause is the real deal for women and can unhinge your overall sense of self.
System failure—male viewpoints, mothers, and hot flashes
Back story first: My mom was the “shake it off; you’re fine” kind of mother. There were no pep talks or tender mother-daughter chats on what to expect when our bodies go through puberty and transition into womanhood. My mother never spoke about her own body and fluctuating hormones or what she was experiencing. So in my early 30s, when I had irregular cycles and hot flashes, I turned to my male gynecologist, only to be told I was too young for perimenopause. But I knew my symptoms were real. Hot flashes—those intense surges of heat that rush through your entire body and feel like something you can’t escape—only lasted a few years for me.
Midsection weight gain
No matter how many HIIT classes you take or diets you try, hormonal imbalance is an enormous factor for that midsection weight gain or “muffin top.” This can factor in some other underlying health issues down the road like metabolic disease and insulin resistance. Tackling the trio can be a hurdle, but with patience and a diet centered on healthy fats, fish, and veggies, the excessive weight in those unwanted areas will diminish.
I love my sleep; it’s my time to recharge my internal battery so I can conquer the day. Sleepless nights didn’t become an actual issue until my late 30s. As my hormones continually decreased, I gradually lost a tremendous amount of sleep. I tried everything from meditation and essential oils to sleep apps, but nothing worked. I grew accustomed to functioning on the three to five hours of sleep I was getting, but even that was wreaking havoc on my internal body. Even though I made that time very productive, the constant cloud of brain fog was killing me.
Yes, if it’s not bad enough, we can now look forward to our hair changing. If the hair fairy blessed you, enjoy it—and possibly this may not even happen to you. For myself, I once had a hair fairy, and I believe she quit without notice. My hair has drastically thinned out, and I’m left with a twist of dry and coarse locks. You can peruse the internet and search for the next product to promise you regrowth and fullness. If you come across this miracle product, please … let me know, because I have tried them all!
Vaginal atrophy, dryness, and intimacy
I will avoid TMI, but I will tell you I am WAY too young to be going through all of this. When I was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure, my gynecologist explained all the telltale signs of what to expect. Vaginal atrophy hit me the hardest. Atrophy of the vagina is thinning, dryness, and inflammation of the vaginal walls; this makes intercourse painful. When my gynecologist dropped the bomb “atrophy” on me, I felt defeated. However, on the flip side, there is hope. For those who are excellent candidates for hormone replacement therapy (HRT), there are estrogen-based prescriptions or natural products that will improve the overall health of your vagina.
Anxiety and mood swings
I have experienced anxiety throughout my life. Over the years, I taught myself how to harness this energy for good use: executive functioning skills, hitting the gym at 5:30 am a strong work ethic. But the perimenopausal-related anxiety that I was experiencing was crippling me. My jaw was tight, my teeth hurt, and feelings of anger rushed through me throughout the day. I didn’t feel like myself; even my husband was commenting on my change in personality. This, of all things, was the catalyst to seek deeper help.
When I walked through the door of Dr. J’s practice, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had 13 vials of blood drawn for a pretty comprehensive panel, and I was intrigued to see what she discovered. I was comforted by her compassion as she discussed the severity of my hormone imbalance and dropped bomb after bomb on me. Internally, my body was a legitimate hot mess! Not only was I in menopause, but I also had insulin resistance. And metabolic disease made so much sense with my weight gain and difficulty losing weight regardless of exercise and dieting.
She started me on HRT and a rigorous diet of fasting and clean whole foods. After a few days of HRT, I began to notice a shift in my anxiety. I felt as if someone had put a pin in me, releasing the tension and allowing a sense of internal peace. I even noticed that my hands were not clenched in fists anymore. I wasn’t quick to overreact. After three months of our plan, my bloodwork was amazing. My hormones are much better: I am still in menopause, my A1C has come down three points, and my liver enzymes are normal for the first time in a long time. I have a long road ahead of me, but there’s a definite homeostasis feeling within me. As for fasting, this has become a challenge that I love. I am learning so much about the body and how it can heal itself when it’s empty. I may be 43 years young and have the hormones of an older woman; however, I am determined to tackle this obstacle, reverse the hands of time, and reclaim a little youth while I can.