I still consider myself reasonably young at 46 (despite my teenage daughter insisting otherwise)! Yet recently I have become aware of many women around my age experiencing some kind of hormonal changes that seem consistent with the peri-menopause.
A doctor of mine likened the peri-menopause to having an old banger. When you have an old banger, it might work one day, and then the next day you might have trouble starting it, or it might break down on the way home, yet it might start again later. In the same way, hormone levels can be all right for a while and then suddenly go awry, causing symptoms.
Therefore, when you're going through the peri-menopause, symptoms can come and go, and your hormone levels can go up and down, so blood tests can show normal levels of your oestrogen, progesterone and FSH. Therefore, GPs really need to go on symptoms rather than blood level results to diagnose the peri-menopause.
The average age of a woman going through the menopause (i.e. cessation of periods) is 52, and most women will start experiencing changes in their hormone levels - the perimenopause (or should we call it the 'old banger' stage) in their mid-forties.
It's well-known that women can expect to endure physical symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, tiredness, sleep problems and reduced interest in sex for a start. However, there is also the mental health changes: many women can experience depression and anxiety. In fact, anxiety and depression are often one of the first symptoms of the peri-menopause, making it difficult to know what the cause of your symptoms is.
Some women feel less of a woman when the periods cease, or can have a sense of bereavement about no longer being fertile. It can also bring home the fact that you are getting older. There can also be other changes going on in your life. If you have children, they may be at the age where they start to be more independent, or leave home, and you can start to feel redundant. You can also find yourself having to look after elderly parents, adding to all of the stresses and responsibilities.
Help for menopause symptoms
Your GP can offer HRT, as well as antidepressants/anti-anxiety drugs to help with the symptoms.
Author: Maria Hancock
Hypnotherapist, Mindfulness and NLP Practitioner with Psychology degree and MSc.
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