The menopause is a natural stage in a woman’s life. We will all enter it at some point. First comes the perimenopause, where our periods start changing. We may also experience other symptoms, listed in the perimenopause symptom checker. This is the time in our lives when our fertility is decreasing due to decreased levels of oestrogen. This is followed by the menopause where periods stop completely.
Are you entering your perimenopause? Or maybe you are just curious about this stage of life that you will enter at some point. Scroll here for tips and information on the perimenopause and the symptom checker.
My role here is to de-mystify this important time in a woman’s life. We will all pass through it so let’s do so with knowledge and style.
As women, we have many wonderful stages in life. Our physical gender role is defined by puberty during our pre-teens and early teens then pregnancy, typically in our twenties and thirties. Perimenopause and menopause are from 45 onwards. Each stage signifies important events that wrap around the many other important areas of our lives. Unfortunately, menopause has a stigma in western society and is looked upon with slight fear.
Don’t face this part of your future with fear, face it with empowerment.
If the thought of the menopause scares you, read on and educate yourself. Knowledge is power so I challenge you to the following. To have a smooth transition and enjoy this part of your life, check out this Menopause Journal. It is jam packed with information, diet advice, a perimenopause symptom checker and calendars.
Timeline of a woman’s body
I can definitely see why women in some societies view the perimenopause with dread. Both the physical and mental symptoms have the ability to dramatically affect our lives. But it is good for us to recognise that this is a phase we are going through, rather than merely wondering what is happening to us. Once there is a diagnosis, we can start to treat it.
Perimenopause symptom checker
The main symptom to watch for is a change in regularity in your menstrual cycle. However, periods could also still be regular, just a little lighter and shorter. As there is such a variation in how our periods may behave we need to pay close attention to them.
After all, we are the best person to recognise when something is changing within us. As we did when we were teens, this is a good time to keep a health diary. Of both our menstrual cycles and also our physical and mental health.
What is perimenopause?
Are you confused by the menopause? I know I am. To simplify it, women go through the perimenopause first, followed by the menopause. Once we get to the stage where our menopause is finished, we will be considered post menopausal for the rest of our female lives. But this is not as ‘doomsday’ as Western society likes to portray. Every stage of a woman’s physical life is beautiful and has much to offer.
Our perimenopause will be triggered by a change in hormone levels. It is a completely natural stage in our lives and is one all women will experience. Hormones dominate much of our lives and can have a profound effect on how we feel. From our breasts developing, periods starting and becoming pregnant, up until now hormone changes have been huge.
From our mid forties onwards, this is no different. As our hormone levels of oestrogen and progesterone decrease, our ovaries will produce less eggs and our period cycle will become irregular. Once this has started, it could last a few months or a few years. Read on to discover the perimenopause symptoms and checker.
Perimenopause symptom checker
- Irregular periods
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
- Hot flushes
- Sweating at night time
- Waking up at night time
- Lack of confidence
- Vaginal dryness
- Breast pain
- Hair loss
Diaries to record our menstrual health
Similar to when we were girls going through puberty, it can be helpful for a woman to keep a menstrual diary when she is potentially approaching perimenopause. This will show how regular her periods still are, how heavy the flow is and any physical and mental symptoms she is experiencing. This is when a perimenopause symptom checker comes in useful.
If you are thinking about having a test to establish whether you are in or are approaching the perimenopause, this diary can be very helpful to a doctor. He/she will be able to establish a plan based on the particular symptoms common to you. It’s your body, you should want the best for it!
2 perimenopause symptom checker tests
Oestrogen is the main female hormone and from the time a girl hits puberty, the level of this hormone dramatically increases. Similarly, when she is approaching or is in the perimenopause, the level of oestrogen in her body will decrease. Femometer Follicle-Stimulating Hormone Test 5 Pack- FSH Female Fertility/Menopause Test Strip Kits“>This test is administered via a blood test. This hormone helps mature the ovary which then produces an egg. Without the sufficient level of the hormone, eggs cannot be produced and the woman does not have a period. The level of the hormone can be tested to see where the woman is in the perimenopause.
The typical age of perimenopause
The perimenopause typically occurs between 45 and 60. This is not to say it lasts for 15 years! Rather, it means it could typically start at 45 and last anything from a few months to a few years. Some women do not then enter the actual menopause until they reach 60. But we can listen to our bodies and will get a fair idea of where we are along the journey.
Like a lot of situations, it can be difficult to say when a woman will enter perimenopause. If your periods start altering before the age of 45, this is called the ‘Early menopause’. Sometimes, this can occur naturally or it may be the result of medical treatment she may be undergoing. Either way, she is probably not expecting this so the early menopause can be fairly traumatic and this is where support of friends and family can come in useful.
Like stated above, early menopause can be natural or forced. By forced, I mean through medical circumstances. A woman going through the early menopause can be almost any age up to 45. If her hormone levels, particularly oestrogen are fluctuating this can cause her eggs to stop producing monthly. This can be caused by chromosomal abnormalities or an autoimmune disease.
Forced menopause also happens due to certain medical treatments. For example, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, two treatments for cancer. These treatments have an effect on the ovaries and can bring on a forced menopause. And of course if you have a hysterectomy your ovaries are removed and menopause is forced.
Early menopause symptoms
The main symptom that you are going through an early menopause is irregular or stopped periods. Some of the other symptoms typical of the perimenopause may also occur. Whether or not you are currently having medical treatment, you should visit your doctor to discuss why this is happening and any treatment they can recommend for it.
By now, a woman has passed through the perimenopause. Her cycles are irregular, she is experiencing hot flushes and maybe shouting a little too much at her husband. But how do we know when the perimenopause ends and the menopause begins?
Perimenopause and menopause are often portrayed as being the same thing. But they are not. The menopause starts when you have your very final period. It is common during this time to experience hot flushes and poor sleep. Once a woman has had her final period, for the next year only she is considered menopausal.
What happens after the menopause? Lastly but definitely not least, comes the post menopause period. Not to be confused with an actual ‘period’, this signifies that a woman has passed through both the perimenopause and the menopause. She had her last period a year ago, has passed through her year of menopause and will now be post menopausal for the rest of her life.
Can I get pregnant during perimenopause and menopause?
When a woman is trying to get pregnant, the couple often diarise her periods. This is because there is a time in her monthly menstrual cycle when she is more likely to get pregnant. However, if she is going through the perimenopause this is more difficult to monitor as her menstrual cycle will be irregular.
This is not to say she cannot get pregnant and at this stage a diary would be very useful. Some months, her ovaries will release a healthy egg and she will have the capacity to get pregnant in this particular cycle.
Signs of ovulation
The usual signs of tender breasts and vaginal discharge can be symptoms for a woman to look out for during the perimenopause to let her know she is ovulating that month. Having unprotected sex a few days before ovulation will increase her chances of getting pregnant during this time.
Pregnancy is difficult to predict even when a woman has young, healthy eggs and a regular cycle. It gets more tricky when she is older and possibly going through the perimenopause. Her eggs are older and her cycle unpredictable. Both of these can lead to her possibly not getting pregnant or an increased chance of certain defects in the baby.
As couples now tend to wait until later in the Western world to have children, it is important that the woman follows a healthy diet and exercises to keep her body healthy. This will improve her chances of conceiving at an older age. Talking to your doctor for more signs to look out for when you are ovulating is also a good idea.
How does society view the menopause?
What are your thoughts on the menopause? What do you see as menopause facts? A lot of women see it as the end of our ability to have children and are confused with how to view the next stage of their lives. Western society does not look upon ageing in a positive light and cultural influence can affect how women proceed through this stage in their lives.
Although menopause is a universal event, symptoms actually vary per country. Why is this? In countries that view the menopause as a negative event, both men and women also tend to see the symptoms as negative.
But in countries that revere women as they age, the menopause is seen as entering a time where a woman is wiser. So when these symptoms approach, both men and women are more relaxed about them. Quite possibly, the way they deal with the symptoms may also vary. As their mental attitude is different, this may also influence their mental approach to the physical symptoms.
Lifestyle changes to help with menopause
Now we have armed ourselves with information on perimenopause symptoms and the menopause, lets look at how we can help ourselves during this time. The varied mental and physical symptoms we may experience, although linked to this stage can be reduced by how we live our lives. Diet is one, as discussed below. But there are also other factors to be considered.
We all know that smoking is unhealthy and positively damaging. But did you know that smoking is actually linked to having an early menopause. Surely that’s reason enough to stop that expensive habit.
Keep a healthy weight
Why does the menopause cause weight gain? Along with the hormonal changes happening in a woman’s body at this time, age itself can also cause weight to creep on. Unfortunately, it does not go on in the areas we choose. Instead it tends to settle on the hips, thighs and bottom! Hence the term ‘middle aged spread’.
Bone strengthening exercises
For us women, one condition we have to watch out for during this time is Osteoporosis. This is when your bone strength weakens. But don’t worry! As long as your posture is good, you do daily lunges and play a sport like tennis, you are helping yourself. Dancing can also help which is also a fantastic social activity.
Like most conditions, diet can have a massive impact on how our bodies deal with the menopause. There are certain foods we should eat more of and some we should avoid. In order to make this specific for you, a good idea would be to record your diet in your menopause journal. Trying the below tips and noting what works will help on your menopausal journey.
Hot flushes – Coffee, alcohol and chocolate are stimulants. These, along with spicy foods should be avoided at night time. If you are prone to hot flushes, these foods will make them worse.
Weight gain – One of the sad side effects of the menopause is weight gain. One way to tackle this is to eat less calories. As we get older, our bodies do not need to consume as many calories so this advice is not telling you to go on a diet. Rather, it is saying listen to your bodies needs. By eating more in the way of complex carbohydrates like brown rice, pasta and bread, you will stay fuller for longer. Avoid fat and be careful how much sugar you eat.
Tiredness – a common mistake when we feel tired is to have a sugary snack. As I discovered when I decreased my sugar intake, my body was addicted to it and gave me artificial sugar highs and lows. By reducing or even cutting out sugar, we will no longer experience ‘sugar crashes’. For snack replacements, try nuts and dried fruits.
Depression and anxiety
Depression and anxiety – to fight these two symptoms, we need to eat foods that help balance our transmitter. The neurotransmitter is a chemical that helps regulate our sleep, energy and emotions. As depression and anxiety are symptoms of the menopause we need to eat a diet that is rich in tryptophan, Vitamin B, carbohydrates and Omega 3. These include foods such as: apples, beef, almonds, eggs, garlic, milk, spinach, orange, salmon and turkey.
Sex and the menopause
Your children are nearly grown, the mortgage mainly paid off. Savings in the bank and more time on your hands. Surely this should be a great time for you and your partner? Time to focus on each other and rediscover what it is you love about each other.
Along with this free time could come a renewed sexual interest in each other. So isn’t it frustrating to read that one of the symptoms most talked about with the menopause is a lack of sexual desire and vaginal dryness? That could really put us women in a catch 22 situation.
Before the menopause, when we sexually desire someone, we become aroused. Blood flows to the genitals causing the labia and clitoris to swell. The vagina lining becomes moist which then provides lubrication. However, during the menopause, desire comes after sexual arousal.
These changes in hormone levels and a woman’s vagina can have a big effect on arousal in women. The lack of estrogen can mean arousal can take longer which in turn leads to vaginal dryness.
Vaginal dryness, in return can lead to inflammation of your vaginal wall and can make sex uncomfortable. According to a 2018 study on the menopause, 34% of women aged 57-69 experience vaginal dryness. Sadly, half of these women did not go to their doctor and only 4% used any treatment.
So what can help? It may be as simple as aMenopause Journal. (Picture below). Packed with information on this part of our lives, you will receive a symptom checker, diet advice, recipe suggestions, period calendar, ovulation checker and much more.
“I will not be able to have any more children, and I expect some physical changes. But I feel at ease with whatever will come, not because I am strong but because this is a part of life. It is nothing to be feared.” Angelina Jolie, actress
Enjoy this new stage of your life
Western society portrays the menopause as a negative stage in a woman’s life. This is a sad way for us to view it. We are once again approaching a time where we have more freedom, confidence and know what we want. Make a decision for yourself.
Embrace this stage by downloading this Menopause Journal. Including a period diary, calendar, menopause diet information, menu options, symptom tracker, ovulation tracker and much more….
Every stage in our life is one to celebrate. Perimenopause is no exception. Freedom from periods, children growing up, more freedom etc. If we mentally embrace a positive attitude towards this stage, our bodies will adjust accordingly. I know that when this stage happens for me, I will be celebrating and embracing it. I hope you do the same.