Guest blogger Erin Todd provides expert advice and support for women so they can better manage their behaviour and lifestyle choices as they transition into menopause.
Menopause officially marks the end of female reproduction. Although this life stage is well known, there are actually different stages within menopause that are important to recognise and understand.
Menopause itself officially occurs when you stop menstruating. Perimenopause, on the other hand, means “around menopause.” It’s also known as the menopause transitional phase and is called such because it happens before menopause.
Perimenopause is a natural stage in a woman’s life that marks the transition through to menopause (which is defined as the absence of menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months). Perimenopause typically starts when women reach their 40’s, however in some women this process can begin as early as their mid 30’s, which is still considered to be a ‘normal’ time of transition. It takes an average of 7 years to go through this transition, so it’s not an overnight process.
During this time, hormonal changes can cause a variety of physical and emotional symptoms that in some women can be challenging to manage. An example of a hormonal change that occurs is that the ovaries start to produce less estrogen (I guess you could think about it, as the ovaries getting ready for retirement). Due to this as well as other changes and factors, a women can experience a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, irregular periods, vaginal dryness, mood swings, and difficulty sleeping. Given the list, you can see that it can be quite disruptive to daily life and have a significant impact on a women’s overall well-being and emotional health.
Hot flashes and night sweats are perhaps the most well-known symptoms of perimenopause, which are sudden, intense feelings of heat that can cause sweating and a rapid heartbeat, and can occur at any time of the day or night, and can last from seconds to longer periods of time. Experiencing changes in mood, such as irritability, becoming really teary, increased anxiety, as well as brain fog, can result in women feeling like they’re “going crazy” and being really lost about knowing why they are feeling this way. It’s often not understood that these difficulties might be a result of the changing internal hormonal landscape, but instead can result in women blaming themselves for not being able to manage their own emotions, and this is why having this type of information and understanding perimenopause is really important.
It’s hard to predict what your experience might be like, as the symptoms of perimenopause can vary greatly from person to person, with some women experiencing more severe symptoms than others. However, with the right support and resources, perimenopause can also be a time of growth, self-discovery, and empowerment. Here’s what you need to know:
- Educate yourself: Knowledge is power, and understanding what perimenopause is, what the symptoms are, and what resources are available can help you feel more in control. Encourage your loved ones to educate themselves and seek out information from trusted sources.
- Prioritise self-care: Engaging in self-care and stress management practices is crucial. This can include practicing stress-reducing activities, like exercise, yoga, or mindfulness, and seeking medical or professional support if needed. Self-care has always been important, and it’s even more important given the internal changes that are happening at this time.
- Embrace healthy lifestyle habits: Making changes to diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits can help women manage symptoms and improve their overall well-being. This does not have to be boring or tedious, but sometimes making changes (even for the better) can be difficult. It’s important to have support and to include the people around you that can help make these changes.
- Seek support: Perimenopause can be an emotional and confusing time, and it’s important to have a support system, and reach out to friends and family. Gather and engage your ‘health care team’ – this could include having support from your medical doctor, allied health professionals, therapist, coach, massage therapist (and whoever else you need in your corner).
- Celebrate: To look back and celebrate where you have come and where you are going can be empowering. This may be a time where reflection and journalling can help support this process, and help you move intentionally towards the future that you want.
(Note that there are some instances where women can enter into premature and/or sudden menopause, due to things like cancer treatments, other health conditions or having their ovaries surgically removed. This can be quite shocking, and it is important to seek appropriate professional support, as well as using the strategies above).
Perimenopause can be a challenging time for women, but with the right support, it can also be a time of growth and empowerment, and a chance to look forward and choose your path into this next season of your life. By educating yourself and your loved ones, prioritising self-care, embracing healthy habits, seeking support, and celebrating the journey, you can navigate this stage of life with confidence and resilience.
If you want to find out more about perimenopause, and how to support yourself, please head to https://go.findingyourflow.com.au/ and sign up for my free training.
- Or follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/findingyour_flow/.
- If you’re interested in finding out more and working with me, please book a free 15 minute consultation: https://calendly.com/findingyourflow/discovery-call-finding-your-flow
About Erin Todd: Erin is a psychologist turned health coach who helps women make the necessary behavioural and lifestyle changes to thrive. She has a special interest in helping women in perimenopause improve their health. With a background in psychology, she has been in the helping profession for over 17 years. For more information, contact Erin on 0409 273 276.