Many women around my age (still hanging in there in my 40s, just!) Start experiencing hormonal changes that seem consistent with the peri-menopause. The average age of a woman going through the menopause (i.e. cessation of periods) is 52, yet most women will start experiencing changes in their hormone levels - the perimenopause in their mid-forties.
I will discuss here how to work out if your symptoms are the perimenopause, and how to deal with the symptoms.
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.
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.
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.
Managing your symptoms
Your GP can offer HRT, as well as antidepressants/anti-anxiety drugs to help with the symptoms. There is also much advice on how to cope with the menopause symptoms e.g. diet, exercise see the NHS website for some information on this:
However, if medication is not for you, hypnotherapy can help with the symptoms e.g. depression, anxiety, hot flushes, insomnia. In fact, a new report published just last week suggested that of all the alternative treatments offered to women – from herbal supplements such as black cohosh, evening primrose oil and ginseng to yoga and acupuncture – hypnosis was almost uniquely effective in alleviating symptoms of the menopause.
So, don't suffer in silence and don't be embarrassed. With the right help, this transition in a woman's life can be a smooth, and perhaps a positive one. Search my blog for other tips on dealing with anxiety, negative thoughts, sleep problems and depression and also feel free to Contact me now to find out how I can help you.
Maria Hancock,, Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapist, Mindfulness Teacher, NLP Practitioner, MSc Health Psychology