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Things We Don't Talk About When We Turn Forty

Perimenopause is a transitional phase in a woman's life that can bring about various symptoms and challenges. It's important to recognize that every woman's experience with perimenopause is unique, and understanding the symptoms and seeking support can help make this journey more manageable.

  1. Perimenopause symptoms can emerge before you are in your forties or after. Their onset and duration differ among women, making difficult to pinpoint the cause and prepare physically and mentally. It is important to remember that you’re not alone!

  2. Hormone imbalance and perimenopause can have some similar symptoms, and you may not be sure which one you’re experiencing. In fact, perimenopause can start as early as age 35 or all the way up to age 45, sometimes even after age 50. One of the most common indication of perimenopause is the duration and consistency of your period will start to change. For most women this means longer and heavier periods due to decreased progesterone production. If you still have a regular and consistent period but are experiencing perimenopause-like symptoms, you might be experiencing hormone imbalance. Talking to your doctor about your physical symptoms and sharing your fear or frustration to your therapist are other options you can consider. They can help prescribe treatments or medications to relief your symptoms or concerns.

  3. You might start experiencing vasomotor symptoms, such as “hot flashes”. This is a feeling of getting hot or feeling flush through the chest, neck, and face. Some women are more susceptible to hot flashes, based on ethnicity, body weight, alcohol consumption, and smoking. You can help manage your hot flashes by avoiding alcohol, spicy foods, and sleeping in light clothing. Intaking Vitamin E through food or supplement can also be helpful!

  4. Night sweats, another common vasomotor symptom, can disrupt your sleep during perimenopause. The decrease in progesterone, which is a calming hormone, affects GABA receptors that aid in maintaining sleep. To improve sleep quality, create a cool and comfortable sleeping environment, practice relaxation techniques before bed, and consider seeking professional guidance if needed.

  5. Perimenopause can bring about uncomfortable symptoms such as vaginal dryness and decreased libido. These changes result from declining estrogen levels and affect approximately one-third of women during perimenopause and menopause. Vaginal dryness can also make your sexual experience painful and unpleasant, which is one of the reasons for decreased libido.

  6. Hormonal fluctuations and decreased estrogen, a hormone with neuroprotective properties, can contribute to brain fog during perimenopause. Alongside disrupted sleep from hot flashes, feeling fatigued and mentally foggy is a common experience. Prioritizing self-care, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and seeking support from healthcare professionals can assist in managing these cognitive challenges.

Navigating perimenopause requires awareness, self-care, and support. By understanding the range of symptoms, exploring available resources, and engaging in open conversations with your healthcare providers, as well as talking to a friend or a family member, you can go through this transitional phase with less fear, frustration, and confusion.

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