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!