As we get older we notice our bodies start to change. From greying hair and sagging boobs to not being able to read our phone any more without the help of glasses, getting older takes its toll. But aside from “where are my glasses?” one of the questions I am asked most frequently is “how do I know I’m in menopause?”
What is Menopause?
Let’s start with the basics. Technically, we are classed as ‘in menopause’ exactly 12 months after the date of our last menstrual period. At this point our ovaries have decided to go into retirement and so the levels of sex hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone decline, which causes our periods to stop. This tends to happen anywhere between the ages of 40 and 58, with the average age being 51 (if your periods have stopped earlier than this, please seek help to be on the safe side).
This is all a perfectly natural process and for many women they only thing they notice is that suddenly, one day, they stop having periods. Unfortunately though, many of us notice things start to change long before our periods stop completely.
I’m talking perimenopause
When I turned 40 (it seemed like literally the day) I started to notice I felt a little hotter. I’d always been a cold person but I could have sworn I was feeling, well, a little flushed.
And it’s true for many of us.
Long before our periods stop, we start notice some quite strange things happening to our bodies. These can include:
- Hot flushes
- Night Sweats
- Mood swings
- Poor sleep
- Anxiety and moodiness
- Changes to our periods (length of cycle and duration of period)
- Vaginal dryness
- Loss of libido
I could go on but we’d probably all feel a bit miserable by the end of it.
What’s going on?
The trouble is when we turn 40 our ovaries are kinda winding down a little bit. They have good days when they’re all revved up and ready to get to work. And then they have bad days when all they want to do is curl up on the sofa under a duvet and binge watch our favourite shows (in my case The Good Wife). This, well frankly, jobsworth attitude leads to our hormone levels to fluctuates. And guess what fluctuating hormone levels gives us?
You guessed it…. A whole range of strange and unwanted symptoms.
Stop suffering in silence
Because we tend not talk about menopause openly, we think that we are the only one who is going through this and unless we go to the doctor and go on HRT or anti-depressants, there is nothing we can do about it.
Well stop that right now!
We know our bodies better than anyone and as soon as we notice even the most minor of changes, we can make a few minor tweaks to our lifestyle that have a major impact on whether or not we continue to get symptoms due to our crazy hormone fluctuations.
The sooner we act, the easier our menopause will be.