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Perimenopause – the symptoms

Posted Sep 23 2009 2:52pm

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Okay, I’m back.  Yes, yes, I’m slow, but, hey, I’m here aren’t I? ;)

Let me begin by saying that I can rarely approach this subject without the nagging feeling that I’m likely rehashing a lot of information that many of you already know.

The subject of perimenopause and the symptoms is not new.  Thanks to the Internet and the fact that more and more women are sounding the drum looking for help, there is no shortage of useful and helpful information.

Hundreds, if not thousands of blogs and websites are devoted to perimenopause and women’s issues, providing us with much needed help and answers. 

My motive, however, is not to provide you with new and ground breaking information, nor do I wish to provide clinical or medical help.  Rather I wish to provide solace, comfort, encouragement and a little bit of “I hear ya” . 

I just want you to know that someone is in your ball court, rooting for you. I believe women need solidarity. We need to be understood and we need to know that “someone gets it”.  So, if I accomplish nothing else outside of helping you feel that you are not alone, then for me, it is a job well done.

So, let’s begin shall we?

Along with a comfortable pair of shoes and one snazzy handbag I firmly believe that one of the greatest accessories perimenopausal women should have is a sense of humor.

toad Because, let’s face it, there are days and times during this period of our lives ( no pun intended ) where you are convinced that you are absolutely going crazy as the hormonal bottom seems to fall out of your life.

Gone are the days of a consistent 28-day cycle, measurable fertility windows and the serenity and clarity of hormonal balance.  In its stead is a riotous and raucous display of biological chaos, rumbling and marauding through your life like a band of rowdy children.

The term “mood swings” hardly seems sufficient to explain what happens to your emotional make-up during perimenopause.  Flailing like a wrecking ball from one polar extreme to the other, “mood slamming” seems a much more apropos description. 

What was once termed, “irritability” with simple PMS has morphed into full on, assault rages and what we used to call “a mild case of the blues” has become crippling depression washing over you like an emotional tsunami.

hotflash Your body temperature remains at a consistent H-O-T, no matter what the season, and you’re slugging through your day, bleary eyed and exhausted after nights of thrashing in your bed with insomnia and night sweats. 

Your once familiar daily life begins to feel more like deja-vu as the mental fog settles like a heavy blanket over your once sharp brain functions.

Rendered completely incapable of recalling any word that is used to describe a “person, place or a thing”, a brand new vocabulary emerges with words such as,  “doo-hicky”, thinga-ma-bob and what-cha-ma-callit” 

Staring blankly into the air as you wait for just the right word to pop into your mind, you can’t help but feel like you are waiting for the bus, as the vowels and consonants take their sweet time forming a recognizable word in your short-term memory.

The simple smell of food seems to be enough to pack on the pounds around your mid-section and your bloating stomach could double as a life saving flotation device in the event of a sinking ship.  And a sex drive????? Fugettaboutit!

Everything that once was, no longer is. The only thing predictable now is the unpredictability .

And try, try as you may to anticipate the next invasion of the body snatchers each month, in hopes you can regain some control over your life, you quickly learn that your body is not playing fair anymore.

crazy_wman_with_knife1241194453 The once, clearly defined biological rules of engagement, no longer apply.  It’s nothing short of hormonal terrorism and guerrilla warfare.  Anything goes – and you lose.

Sound familiar ladies?  If so, welcome to perimenopause. 

Hopefully, if you’ve seen yourself in any of these scenarios, you’ve been able to laugh.  Laughter can be a healing balm when it comes to coping with difficulty in our lives and there is no question that perimenopause can be very difficult for many women.

I’ve cursed Eve and wanted to shoot my own Adam during some of my more trying times and racing to the nearest OB/GYN to beg for a hysterectomy crossed my mind on more than one occasion.  And yet, here I sit, a witness to the fact that “this too shall pass”. 

Though I am not completely menopausal just yet, I can tell you with a certainty that my “new normal” is beginning to take shape in my life and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  No more crazy mood swings, no more soaking night sweats and hot flashes, and I can actually carry on a decent conversation without struggling to form a complete sentence.

Though you may feel as if you are drowning in your progesterone and estrogen bath right now, I can assure you that if you continue to put one foot in front of the other, you will eventually find yourself on the other side. We have survived our teen adolescence and we will survive our middle age adolescence as well. 

I have not included all of the symptoms of perimenopause, because as you might know, the list can be long and varied, depending on the woman.  One of my favorite sites is Project Aware.  They have an excellent list of symptoms and complaints that you can find here.   In addition, there are many links within the list that elaborate and provide more in- depth information if you desire it.

In addition, be sure and check out Menopause the Blog and Women’s Health News    (found also in my blog roll) for current and up to date health and medical information on perimenopause and menopause. And if you are looking for even more encouragement and sisterhood during these times, always go over and say “hey” to Eileen at The Feisty Side of Fifty    Eileen is helping to lead the way for the rest of us and she never ceases to provide a chuckle and a laugh in the process.

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