Peri-menopause update

This post isn’t meant to be whiney because I personally feel menopause is a natural event and just something we women have to get through.  That being said, I write about it because it‘s still challenging and I personally trawl the message boards looking for other women having the same symptoms as me so that I know what I’m experiencing is ‘normal’.  Well, as normal as you can get when you live with 4 other diseases (I’m now counting my Endometriosis and Adenomyosis as a disease in its own right, because I suffer from the symptoms every day of my life).

My menstrual cycle starting changing in 2012.  I’ve always been regular as clockwork, sometimes down to the hour, with a 27/28 day cycle but in 2012 this shifted slightly and for the first time in my life I experienced 30 day cycles, and 26 day cycles, and everything in between.  As the years have ticked by my cycles have been consistently longer, or consistently shorter and this month I’ve had my shortest one to date at 19 days.  It’s come as a bit of a shock because my vision of peri-menopause was that my cycles would get longer and longer and then just peter out but the reality is that my cycles have been all over the place, and on the whole shorter than usual not longer.  This apparently happens in the first two phases of perimenopause and only in the latter two stages does the cycle lengthen.

Other than my cycles being a bit nuts I’ve had virtually no other symptoms.  I can count my hot flushes on one hand, though I’m sure these will increase the further along the line I get, and I’ve noticed no worsening of my pre-existing insomnia.  In fact I sometimes think my deep sleep has improved.

I do get night sweats.  Well they’re not sweats as such, I just feel like my legs are on fire.  By 9pm every night it’s like someone’s flicked a switch and my legs are boiling hot and jumpy.  However, I’ve had restless legs my whole life so this isn’t new to me and the hot leg thing has been happening for about a decade now so whether it’s caused by my pre-existing illnesses or part of my hormonal changes I’ll never know.

I’ve luckily never suffered from PMT.  I can have a short fuse, or be a bit weepy, around my period but nothing that has ever interfered with my life and at the moment this hasn’t altered.  I have had two or three massive meltdowns in the past 3 years which are totally out of character for me, but these could be as a result of my own stressful health situation and having to adjust to caring for my parents every bit as much as they could be down to the perimenopause.  There have definitely been times, though, where I’ve been snappier than usual and felt boiling rage for no particular reason which is definitely hormone related.

Bleeding-wise my periods are heavier.  They don’t last any longer, but the flow has increased and is much more clotty than it used to be.  I usually have a break from bleeding after day 3, only for it to return on days 5 or 6 which isn’t usual for me though from what I read is normal for perimenopause.

My menstrual migraines have definitely increased this year which is a bummer.  I can only pray I’m not in for too rocky a road in that direction over the coming years as my hormones surge, crash and finally burn.

Many women complain of increased joint pain and muscle weakness during this time of their lives and I’ve had my fair share of both.  I feel like I’ve turned into a pensioner overnight and do the whole “oomf” thing every time I get out of the chair 😉  I can still crouch down to get something out of a drawer but genuinely struggle to get back up again. Whether this is an EDS thing or a hormone thing, or a combination of both, is impossible to know.  I’m 48 going on 78!

This month my short period has hit me hard in the exhaustion stakes.  I took Bertie out Saturday morning, came back at 11am and had to go back to bed where I slept until 1pm.  This was repeated on Sunday, and both times after I’d woken back up I felt like I’d been hit by a truck and was useless for the rest of the day.  This morning I’ve woken feeling just as weak and knackered but I’ve got too much on to be able to snooze the day away.  In my 22 years of having M.E. I’ve never been able to sleep during the day, even when I’ve only had 1 hours sleep at night, so this daylight kipping is totally new to me and makes me feel like crap.  As I’m typing this I feel like someone’s slipped me a couple of Valium and my brain feels so foggy I simply want to lay my head down and sink into oblivion!

Perimenopause is supposed to last between 1 and 10 years, though most doctors wrongly tell you it will last 2 years and you’ll be done (I wish!).  This is year 4 for me and it feels like very little is changing – my periods are continuing on their up down up down course and not really moving on.  So far the experience isn’t at all like I expected and is better than the horror stories I’ve read online.  Or it could be that I simply cope with the changes in my body better than healthy women as I’m used to feeling rubbish all the time anyway.  Maybe I’m in for a rude awakening in the next couple of years as the whole thing goes belly up but I hope, just for once, I’ll catch a break – I think I deserve that at least!

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4 thoughts on “Peri-menopause update

  1. TC

    Hi Jak. I was interested to read this. I seemed to start having meno issues when I was 31. My periods started to go haywire and almost too many and two heavy. My IBS and migraine flares were awful. Eventually I had a hysterectomy. In my sisters case she started having issues in her late 40’s. She’s now 58 and has been going through so many symptoms. Her periods got heavier and more spasmodic. She was getting many other problems such as tingling and muscle and joint pain, fatigue, flushes, sleep disturbance and worsening IBS. Her periods became more scant and after none for 6 months had the most horrendous bleeding. She got it checked out and all was OK.She was also found to be iron deficient again. Eventually her periods stopped for good. She still has more IBS, joint and fatigue problems.
    By the way have you tried putting a bar of soap in your bed to help with restless legs? It worked for my friend. Give it a try.
    Also magnesium spray and iron helps with any leg issues such as cramping,

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  2. Fiona

    Thanks for highlighting….I am 42 and am experiencing changes for a couple of years such as shorter / heavier cycle and night sweats. Just wish they would stop 😦

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  3. Jan Groh

    Forgive me for feeling like you opened with the understatement of the year:

    “This post isn’t meant to be whiney because I personally feel menopause is a natural event and just something we women have to get through. ” Really? Cuz I’m taking all the men I know down with me while I “just get through” it, smile. 😉 (Boy would the business world run differently IMHO if they had this much hormonal “fun”, I’m sure.)

    But alas you do now know all too well what a wild and crazy ride it can be – for all women, but especially for those with mad mast cells such as ourselves. And I’m finding it can “start” anywhere after the age of 30 on, and go on as far as age 60 – uhm, no small chunk of our adult lives, TYVM! (Though no, thankfully most have a shorter run than that full range I’ve just described.) So no, I don’t feel it should just be endured, sorry, though yes, it is an inevitable part of our lives should we live so long and have the pleasure as we now are. (I find my hot flashes to stay reduced with lower histamine levels myself.)

    I’m peri-menopausal myself now at 49 – I wasn’t nearly so clock-work as you except when on the pill years ago, but did start having raging heavy periods suddenly earlier this year such that I went back on a “mini-pill” – a progesterone only tablet that you take for just 12 days starting on day 14 of your cycle to help regulate it a touch. (It’s the drop in progesterone that triggers our cycles after all, so it should theoretically help me know when I’ll be starting rather than being suddenly besieged by a gushing flow out of the blue. Our poor ancestors!) It has helped though I’m still not fully regular and still have a heavier flow than years prior, just regulated a bit which is good enough for me and manageable again phew.

    Alas, I have no menstrual history from my mum to go off of as she both died relatively young (at 65) in my life (when I was 23, a senior in college), and had had a full hysterectomy at 40 right after I was born. My sister isn’t speaking with me much, so no help there.

    My aunties had endometriosis – which I’m now deeply convinced is mast cell driven in those who may be estrogen dominant. But I also just learned that progesterone not only makes you more lax (it’s what put me in my wheelchair during my onset “storm” or flare 4 years ago helping me to finally get diagnosed with HEDS plus), but I just learned *it’s also a mast cell trigger* for our lose.

    Seriously? Can’t a girl catch a break around here?? It’s not enough that we have to fall (literally) apart once a month (I still do, very painful, my fingers go first and I struggle to hold my iPhone even at my worst) but I have to enjoy increased reactivity from activated mast cells? I want off this ride!! 🙂

    In case you haven’t seen it, this is the article that just tipped me off to that latter fact recently from a Facebook group I’m in. (I’d known about estrogen being a trigger, but not progesterone.)

    http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fimmu.2016.00140/full

    It just doesn’t seem fair… but it sure splains a lot, Lucy. (So to speak.) And if Dr. Sharon Meglathery’s RCCX Theory holds and we’re all variations on a theme of CYP21A2, well, there’s your wonky hormones and insomnia and dysautonomia right there:

    http://www.rccxandillness.com

    Anyway, thanks for sharing, it was brave of you, since heaven knows plenty of people probably wish we wouldn’t talk about it. But, I actually shared your post with a dear long time friend who appears to be going through her on onset “flare” of laxity now, complete with all the signs of peri-menopause you’ve just described and more. So I was able to let her know she’s not alone, and to not just take my word for it. We’re in good company alas.

    Hang in there… by all accounts it DOES get better again post menopause… whenever that is! Good luck in the meantime.

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    1. Jak Post author

      I agree Jan – if men had periods there would have been a cure long ago! I just feel it’s someting to endure as I can’t tolerate any of the drugs or supplements healthy women take to get them through this time in their life. I will just have to crack on with it just like I have to crack on with all the other symptoms I endure. It’s still crap though!

      Jak

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