Perimenopause can occur for several years and up to 10 years prior to menopause. My aunt use to call it “Mental Pause”, her way of joking about the mental, emotional and physical changes during this time in a women’s life. It can be challenging and an unknown for many women.
The perimenopausal emotional and hormonal connection can often be overlooked. Oprah Winfrey was one of the first pioneer women in media to openly discuss her own experience with perimenopause. Did you know… you can experience anxiety, increased heart rate, possible panic attacks and a roller coaster of emotions, even rage? The Mayo clinic states, “some women may even experience perimenopause in their 30′s.” And for those of us women who waited later in life to have children and are still trying to forget the struggles of trying to get pregnant, being pregnant, lack of sleep, the transition to motherhood,working hard to maintain our careers and family; perimenopause is a whole new fire we are trying to put out.
5 Ways to Combat Perimenopause….
1. See your doctor. Rule out any other medical sources and then get information “is it” or” is it not” perimenopause? Symptoms can be gradual and you may not even know this is what’s happening to you. Many women don’t and suffer needlessly. If you experience increased heart rate, panic and unmanageable anxiety see your doctor right away, take it seriously as women are at risk for heart disease too. Your doctor will help you manage perimenopause through hormone testing, low dose birth control if needed, supplement recommendations such as calcium, vaginal lubricants and other options. If mood swings, or anxiety and panic are too much to handle….. it may be recommended you try an antidepressant medication. It’s “ok”, you won’t have to be on it forever and “No Shame” in feeling better.
2. What to do out of the doctor’s office? Cut your caffeine intake, get sleep and practice good sleep hygiene (going to bed and getting up at the same time), if you smoke… quit, reduce how much alcohol you drink, eat well, exercise. Look for someone else to talk to who understands. Sometimes knowing someone “gets it” just helps us cope better.
3. Emotionally educate yourself. Be aware of your mood swings and that you may react differently to situations or can’t as easily control your emotions. Figure out how to give your self some “me time”. Women look after everyone but themselves. You deserve it and it helps to cope with the changes you are experiencing… PS. Exercise is a natural 100% organic treatment for anxiety and stress. Exercise helps with the discomfort of this life change.
4. Yes “Mental Pause”….it happens and your brain may become a little more forgetful or your concentration isn’t as good . Give yourself a break. Find ways to cope that could be as simple as writing things down more often. So you have a long list, what’s the big deal? You might realize that you are a “Super Women” and amaze yourself at what you are accomplishing daily.
5. Know it is common for women and their partners or spouses to struggle with ups and downs in their relationships during this time. Your sexual relationship, drive and communication may be affected. Talking to a licensed counselor, therapist can help you put a plan in place to perimenopause proof you and your relationships.
* Note there is some research that indicates men go through menopause too….humm any connection to the mid life crisis and that shiny new sports car? Cliche’ I know! I will leave this up to you to research. But in keeping it real…. My husband jokingly just asked me if I was writing this from personal experience? And yes, I guess I am but resisting the urge to ask him if he is worried about going through menopause himself ?
Marva Caldwell is a Working Mom, Licensed Mental Health counselor and Nationally certified counselor specializing in Women's and Maternal Wellness. For more information on Women's Wellness: [email protected], twitter @marvacald, FB lifecounselingsolutions.