I’ve had a request for an update on my peri-menopause. Apologies to my younger, and male, readers to whom this doesn’t apply – be thankful cos it sucks.
I first noticed my periods had started to change back in 2012 – I’ve charted my cycles since then which you can see in this post. I also wrote about my journey to date last July which you can read here.
Nothing much seems to have changed in the last 6 months as far as I can tell. My periods continue to be regular though a bit erratic. My last five cycles have been 23 days, 28 days, 26 days, 21 days and this month 25 days. Bleeding is heavier than it used to be, particularly on the first day, and more clotty. I can find myself changing tampons every 1-2 hours because they’re soaked. I’ve actually fainted a few times in the past 6 months while having my period. I now know this is probably due to very low iron levels.
I’ve never had long periods, usually 2-3 days, and this hasn’t changed. However I’m now spotting, sometimes quite heavily, for up to 4 days after my period has finished which is new. Also new this month is mid-cycle spotting. I’m currently on day 9 of my cycle and have had a brown/bloody discharge for the past 24 hours. I’ve also had stomach cramps and severe nausea, however I think that may be related to the iron supplement I’m taking so I’m discontinuing that for the next few days to see if it settles then will try it again once ovulation is over so that I know which symptom belongs to what.
My brain fog is currently dreadful. I feel like I’ve been koshed over the head and all I want to do is sleep. However, this could be down to my anaemia – when you have different health issues going on it’s so hard to know what’s causing what.
My sleep has definitely been worse the past few months. I get off to sleep OK but wake several times during the night and I’m having some powerful dreams/nightmares.
My legs are on fire by 9pm every single night. This has been going on for some years now and gives me wicked restless legs which drive me insane. My top half is freezing but my feet are dangling outside the covers even though it’s winter and often sub zero at night!
I have some pretty bad night sweats, where I wake covered in a film of what feels like oil from head to toe, but these are currently confined to when I’m actually having my period or the few days leading up to it.
I have vaginal dryness, though so far only around ovulation and for a week or so after menstruation. I’ve always taken my vaginal lubrication for granted and now realize how important it is. When it’s absent your knickers rub against your bits and actually make them sore 😦 I’ve had to buy some K-Y jelly to combat this, which stings when I first put it on but does thankfully settle down. My skin is much more dry in general. I’ve never really used moisturizer on my face but now feel the need to, simply because it feels itchy and tight if I don’t.
My breasts seem to be very tender most of the time. I only have about 5 days after the end of my period where they’re OK then the aching and tenderness start again. New in the past few months has been stinging, shooting nerve pain which goes from under my armpits to my nipple. Ouch. No, really. OUCH! I’ve had this checked out via a mammogram and thankfully all is fine and it’s just been put down to my hormones.
I always forget to mention sex drive when talking about my peri-menopause because I’m not in a relationship so it’s basically irrelevant to me. However, for those who are interested my libido seems to be largely unchanged though does fluctuate massively with my menstrual cycle. I am intensely horney around ovulation and again around my period week, but not so much the rest of the time. If I were in a relationship, however, I’d be far too knackered and nauseous to want rumpy pumpy.
For the entire time of peri-menopause I’ve had palpitations. I’m sitting watching the telly and all of a suddenly I skip a heart beat then get a huge thump of a heart beat after it, or I get a run of thumpy beats. They’re really unpleasant and as the adrenalin surges round my body it can make me feel quite anxious. I’ve had them checked out with a 24 holter monitor and the doctor said they are nothing to worry about – it sure doesn’t feel benign though when you’re having them.
My memory is truly awful and I struggle for words constantly (I sat for quite some time trying to think of the word “benign” in the previous paragraph!). It’s embarrassing and frustrating to have such poor cognition and I know this probably won’t improve now and I’ll just have to live with it.
I’m sorry to have to tell other EDSers this, but since I started peri-menopause 5 years ago my joints and ligaments have gone to hell in a handcart. I’d never subluxed a joint until my hormones started to wane and my body seems to have stiffened up literally overnight. I feel like my body has aged 20 years in my mid forties.
On the plus side I’ve had much fewer migraines since I started peri-menopause. I used to have them up to 3 times a week, and they’re now down to around 2 a month and these are confined to ovulation and menstruation 🙂
My energy levels are rubbish, but again I think that’s down to my anaemia rather than the peri-menopause per se (although it’s probably the menopause which is causing the anaemia!). No matter how exhausted I feel, though, I do try and get out for a short walk every single day as I feel continuing to exercise is really important for bone health, muscle strength, mental health and Vitamin D levels.
My mood is good on the whole. I do have odd days where I feel intense and inexplicable rage, and days where I could burst into tears at the slightest thing, but nothing which isn’t manageable. I do also have days where I feel intensely anxious for no good reason, but again this is to be expected with wildly surging hormones and isn’t anything I can’t handle.
I seem to be hungry all the time and it’s really hard not to cave in to the munchies. Many women gain weight around the menopause then can’t shift it, so I’m really conscious of how much I’m eating and how little I’m exercising as I’m exhausted much of the time and in so much pain. I’ve gained 4lbs in the past 6 months, which doesn’t sound much but I’m only tiny to start with and my jeans are definitely uncomfortable! The bloating from my endo and adeno isn’t helping the situation one iota.
The biggest plus for me so far is that I’ve not had any hot flushes. Over the 5 years of peri I’ve only had two, though I’m sure I won’t get off scott free!
In a nutshell, so far the worst symptoms for me have been:
- Hot legs and feet at night
- Marked worsening of my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
But bonuses have included:
- Much fewer migraines
- So far no hot flushes
The thing which has disappointed me the most is how long the whole process is taking. My Doctor said once my periods started to change it would all be over with in 2 years – wishful thinking that was! I’m 5 years into peri-menopause and the whole thing seems to be taking forever. You read about it lasting up to 10 years and secretly think to yourself “nah, it won’t take that long for me” but I currently feel like the whole thing is interminable. I just want it over and done with so that my body can re-adjust and I can learn to live without my hormones.