Early Menopausal thoughtsThese thoughts were written over the course of a few months.
I began experiencing menopausal symptoms when I was 42. I went gone as long as 8 months without a period, at which point the clock started again (using the arbitrary end point of 12 months without a period as the end of peri-menopause and the beginning of the real menopause).
My mother died at 45, so I have no idea if she having menopausal symptoms or not, because she didn't discuss things like that with her 19 year old daughter. Most women still don't discuss menopause— at least in my experience. There are a number of books published in the past few years discussing the symptoms and medical issues of menopause. But my understanding of menopause was that it began after age 50— at which point I have always assumed 'the wheels begin to come off.'
When my symptoms started, I didn't know what was happening. It wasn't until I actually missed a period that I began to investigate what was going on. I never thought it could be menopause— because I was 'too young.' I had the blood test, and the results were unambiguous. Since then, I have been very forthright about my condition.
I wish I had a dollar for every woman who have thanked me for being so open about it. Most are not menopausal the way I am, but many have started seeing the same queer symptoms (mood swings, hair loss, etc). I have to say that the menopause books I've read do not do a good job of discussing peri-menopause. What I intend to do here is write about the my experience and choices, and what worked for me, just as I do in real life. What works for me might not work for you, as every person's chemistry is different. But perhaps you'll find something here that will help.
Hot Flashes Aren't all badHot flashes are linked with a significant reduction in breast cancer risk, study finds.
I have a history of breast cancer in my family, therefore for me the controversy over hormone therapy was a nonstarter. I was never a candidate, so I never paid much attention to it. In general, I think that people should muck with their hormones as little as possible, but the fact is that the cancer risk negated any interest I might have had in using hormone therapy to alleviate the flashes.
I did experience flashes for a few years, but in general they were easy to handle. I dressed in layers so that I could remove a layer if I got to warm, and then put it back on after the flash when I would get a chill. I began to always have ice water nearby, and the easiest way to do that is to buy a Contigo spill proof mug. And I bought myself a hand fan to use. These are simple solutions to the problem, and for me they worked.
Far worse than the hot flashes for me were the heart palpitations. They are also a normal symptom of menopause, but thankfully I didn't have them very often. They were in fact quite upsetting. I could cool myself off in a hot flash, all I could do with the palpitations is lie there quietly telling myself is was just the hormones.
Avoiding those MenoPOUNDSRead any book on menopause, and you will learn that the average woman packs on a minimum of 8 pounds during the process. I'm not talking about the effects of gravity that also occur— I'm talking about extra weight that results from the hormonal shift. If you enter menopause as I did, already on the chunky side, an additional 8+ pounds is not a happy prospect.
I am determined not to gain those pounds— and so far, 6 years since my first perimenopausal symptoms began to appear and almost three years since official 'menopause' I have maintained my weight. I haven't been able to lose any either— but frankly, that's not only related to the menopause. I enjoy having an adult beverage or two with my meal in the evening and that is a significant boost in my daily calorie count.
So how have I avoided packing on additional pounds, even as my hormones shift and my metabolism slows?
I eat less. Not a lot less, but I am much more aware of the calories I ingest. That said— I do NOT count calories. What I did do is spend a few hours online looking up the caloric content of a variety of foods and for a range of serving size. My goal was to teach myself to recognize what a portion size is— no matter how much food in on my plate and eat only that.
I learned to love leftovers, and to not feel guilty about not eating everything on my plate. In fact, I have found cooking with the remains of previous meals to be a new creative outlet.