When my periods first started to change back in 2012 when I was 44 and I realized I had probably started peri-menopause, I wanted to know about other women’s experiences. There were legions of horror stories online, very little about the positive and hardly any actual hard data. “It’s different for everyone” was a common theme, which is all well and good but I still wanted to know what was physically happening to other women to give me some companionship in my own journey through The Change.
Being as though I didn’t find a single story which tracked progression through peri-menopause I thought I’d track my own, so began compiling data on my menstrual cycle. I’ve been a regular 27/28 day cycle person my entire life but in 2012 my cycle length started to subtly change and I initially experienced slightly longer cycles than usual.
In 2013 things went totally haywire. As you can see from the chart below I basically had alternating long and short cycles, with a couple of very short cycles (for me at any rate). I had my first daytime hot flush this year, but only the one, and no other real symptoms. I did have my hormones tested and they came back as “normal” which isn’t at all unusual in the early stages of peri-menopause.
In 2014 my cycles were still abnormal, but not quite as erratic as the year before. Again, no other symptoms of peri-menopause that I could put my finger on.
The start of 2015 saw my cycles even out, only to become erratic again in the second half of the year. I also saw a couple of symptoms appear – vaginal dryness around my period, which doesn’t half make your ladygarden itch and is well uncomfortable as your undies rub against your bits, and changes in my mood. I had sudden and inexplicable rages which were absolutely overwhelming. Having never suffered from PMT I found being so out of control of my emotions really difficult, though thankfully the emotional hooha only usually lasted a day or two around my period.
I already have a full chart for 2016 even though it’s only October because my cycle lengths have shortened so I’ve fitted in 12 periods over only 10 months. Despite the change in length my cycles have been fairly stable, apart from one very short cycle in August. I’ve continued to have vaginal dryness and mood changes, but not felt the dreadful rage episodes I had last year – I still have a short fuse at certain times in the month but have been able to control it. I’ve also had some really weepy episodes and feelings of being unable to cope, usually in the few days before my period starts.
From everything I’ve read about peri-menopause, in the early stages your cycles shorten then get much longer as you finally approach Menopause. However, the very first sign for me that I’d started the change was a slight lengthening of my cycle, and only after a full year of that did my cycles start to get shorter.
The table below summarizes the changes in my cycle length and as you can see I still appear to be in the “shorter cycle” phase:
According to the research online, this means I’m still in the early-mid stage of Peri-menopause after 5 years! You can see from the table that I’m progressing, but it’s painfully slow. As you all know, because of my horrendously painful endo and adeno I’m desperate for my periods to stop but it’s still looking like a very long way off. Somebody shoot me.
Probably because I’m still in the “early stages” I’ve not had any really troublesome symptoms and so far only had two hot flushes, though I’m assured these will increase during my final Menopause year. I do have awful night sweats, but have had these for well over a decade so I’m not convinced they’re particularly menopause related. Due to everything else that’s wrong with me, it’s impossible to tell if I’m more tired than usual and being as though I’ve had insomnia for 20+ years I have no idea if this has been made worse due to changes in my hormones.
With regards to bleeding, I’ve never had long bleeds – usually 3 days, followed by a couple of days of spotting – and this hasn’t changed. I am more clotty but other than that no flooding.
So, that’s where I’m currently at. At 49, and after 5 years of hormone changes, I honestly thought I’d be a bit further along in the process but it’s looking like I’m going to be one of those women who take 10 years to finally reach Menopause. Bugger. I know risks of things like osteoporosis (for which I have a very strong family history) and heart disease increase after menopause and most women want to stave it off as long as possible, but due to my horrendously painful periods I can’t wait for the 4 weekly torture to be over with. I started my periods at the age of 11 and after 38 years of mess, pain, nausea, insomnia, diarrhea, migraines and exhaustion I’m soooooo over the whole thing.