Over Forty? Have These Symptoms of Perimenopause?
It’s a standing joke that everyone starts to go downhill at age 40, but the symptoms that many women experience around this stage of life are certainly not funny. As you move toward about age 50, the symptoms of perimenopause kick in. Many of the most common symptoms can be mistaken for other things, so it can sometimes be hard to tell if you’re experiencing perimenopause. Though it is different for every woman, here are some of the things you can look for to tell if you’re in perimenopause.
Typically menopause strikes at around age 50, so perimenopause will begin in the years leading up to this age. Some women have a shorter span of just a couple of years before full menopause while others can experience the symptoms for 10 years or more. Symptoms can even begin in your middle 30s!
The hormone changes of perimenopause can cause you to have dry eyes (and dryness in other places). If you notice that your eyes are easily irritated, itchy, or red, be sure to bring this to the attention of your doctor. It can cause vision problems if not properly treated.
Some women find that they have random, unexplainable bruises popping up. No, you haven’t become suddenly clumsy. Lower estrogen can mean a lack of vitamin K and also can bring on anemia. These two factors can contribute to bruising more easily than usual.
Bruising can have many causes, so talk to your doctor.
Brain Fog and Mood Swings
As your estrogen levels are finding their new normal, they can wreak havoc on your brain. The hormone fluctuations can cause you to have difficulty concentrating and reduce overall cognitive function. Also, hormone changes can make it difficult to stabilize your moods.
Hot flashes are caused by the hypothalamus being convinced that your body is overheating, again a side effect of reduced estrogen in your body. You’ll experience sweating and flushing for no apparent reason, often in the middle of the night. Friends have told me that the first hot flash takes them by surprise and can feel like a huge wave of heat rising from their neck to their head.
Some women never have hot flashes at all. My mother only had one and I never had any.
Perimenopause can do a serious number on your metabolism. You may not change the way you eat or exercise, but suddenly you’ll start packing on the pounds. The changes in your body can cause you to store more fat and make it difficult to lose weight by methods that previously were effective.
Dropping hormone levels also tend to attack your ability to sleep as you’re entering perimenopause. Many women experience insomnia due to the hot flashes that they are experiencing as a part of the hormonal process. Others simply struggle to shut their mind down and relax at night. If this is an ongoing symptom, it is important to talk with your doctor as your body needs adequate rest.
I’ve found some help in a headband with bluetooth speakers in it that I use to listen to a sleep app like Calm or anything that has white noise. Personally, my brain likes pink noise!
An irregular period is the symptom that usually tips most women off that their body’s hormones are changing. You might be reminded of your teen years, right after puberty, when you never quite knew what day Aunt Flo was going to show up for a visit. And when she did show up, it could be brutal and torturous. Keep an emergency kit in your car – trust me on this one.
Once you have twelve months without a period you officially cross over from perimenopausal to menopausal. After that, even if you have a surprise random period you are still considered menopausal. The clock doesn’t restart.
Perimenopause for you might look different than it did for your mom or your best friend. According to the Mayo Clinic, these symptoms of perimenopause are just a handful of what you could experience during this change to your body as you exit your fertile years. Just know that you’re not alone and there are therapies and treatments that can help you navigate these perfectly normal body changes.