Even though we’re only half-way through 2017 I already have an entire year’s data on my ever changing menstrual cycle. That’s because my cycles are now regularly shorter than 28 days, so I’m managing to fit in double the amount of periods than I used to. Lucky me, especially bearing in mind I have endometriosis and adenomyosis and they are excruciating.
When my periods first started to change back in 2012 at the age of 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 hooha only usually lasted a day or two around my period.
In 2016 I continued to have vaginal dryness and mood changes, but the dreadful rages I felt in 2015 thankfully disappeared. I did still have a short fuse at certain times in the month but it was nothing I couldn’t control. I also had some really weepy episodes, usually in the few days before my period started and by the end of the year was starting to feel quite overwhelmed. As someone who usually has very stable moods this was unusual for me. I didn’t know how much was down to the perimenopause and how much was down to what was going on in my personal life, ie the situations with my parents and my Mum’s drinking, so decided to see a therapist to help me work through it. Three months later and I was feeling much calmer, so you really shouldn’t put everything down to your hormones!
This year as you can see from the chart below, my periods are becoming even more erratic. I don’t have a clue when The Curse will arrive, which makes planning difficult. I am grateful my moods have fairly much evened out and I’m back to feeling more like myself, though I have periods of anxiety for no apparent reason which is fairly common for peri-menopause. I still haven’t had any hot flushes though my sleep has definitely been affected and there are times I struggle with insomnia. My migraines around ovulation and menstruation have definitely become worse and can last for days which is crippling. My energy levels have taken a nosedive and my brain fog some days is dreadful, however this may be due to the fact that I am borderline anaemic and now on supplements for my iron levels rather than being solely down to my hormones. The biggest two things I’ve noticed this year have been weight gain and painful, itchy breasts which have been checked out via mammogram and are fine.
I’m definitely having symptoms of peri-menopause but they’re so far nowhere near as bad as I was expecting and nothing like the horror stories I’ve read about online. They can be annoying but are manageable and it helps that I know what’s happening and that it will all eventually pass. Everything that’s happening to me is normal and to be expected – very few women just stop their periods with no symptoms at all and I’m happy for nature to just take its course. This all may change as the actual Menopause arrives and I may end up eating my words but so far so good!
A full 5 years into peri-menopause and there is absolutely no sign of Aunt Flo packing her bags. Due to my endo and adeno my monthly cycles are incredibly painful and debilitating, and I have to say I’ve been ready for some considerable time for the monthly torture stop. So, periods, if you’re listening I am over you – feel free to leave the building!