The Transition into Menopause
When I started to experience symptoms of menopause, I like many women had little idea what was going on.
The first thing I did was ask my mum but she had little memory of her experience and she told me it simply wasn’t something that she spoke to her mother about “we didn’t talk about those types of things,” were her exact words.
Why start a conversation about the transition, the journey through menopause? Because it can be incredibly lonely, scary and overwhelming.
Together we are a community, together we can change the perception of menopause and support one another to navigate the waves which will ultimately come.
With knowledge, with support, with self-compassion and with a range of tools we can be empowered to navigate this phase of our lives.
Menopause continues to be a taboo subject but it doesn’t need to be that way. As women, we continue to find our voices, menopause is not something we should be ashamed of, it is a natural evolution
What is Menopause?
If like me this is all new to you, let me explain what I have learned so far.
Menopause and the transition into menopause affect us physically, emotionally and mentally. I had no idea that there was such a thing as perimenopause, early menopause, premature menopause, and medically induced menopause.
The average age of menopause in Australia is 51. But what does menopause mean? Well, menopause means that you have not experienced a period for 12 months.
When it comes to my health I do the only thing I know how, I research, I ask questions, I do deep dives to work out how to support my health, mental, physical and emotional as I navigate this phase of my life.
Enter perimenopause, never heard of it, nor had I, nor my friends! How is that possible?
I had little understanding that I would have to navigate the symptoms associated with perimenopause for around the next 4-5 years! Yip, 4-5 years.
Our ovaries produce the hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone (in a lesser amount). There are two additional hormones involved in our reproductive health. Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) produced in the brains pituitary gland.
Ok enough science for now.
The reason we start to experience the symptoms of perimenopause is that our estrogen levels fluctuate which leads to a range of physical, emotional and mental symptoms.
The first indication of perimenopause is irregular periods, they may stop for months, get longer, shorter, heavier, generally out of sync.
Personally, I have been having irregular periods for the last 18 months. My recommendation, download an app and start tracking your periods. Keep a journal and note any other changes such as hot flashes, disrupted sleep or other symptoms such as anxiety and depression.
Early or Premature Menopause
Some women may experience early or premature menopause. Menopause in women under 40 is referred to as premature menopause which affects 1 in 100 women*. Menopause occurring between 40-45 is known as early menopause which impacts around 5% of women.
Postmenopause, once you have not had a period for 12 months, you are considered post-menopausal. Once again this is a personal journey, all of our physiology is unique and how you transition into postmenopause will vary person to person. Some women continue to experience hot flushes others experience renewed energy.
There are many tools I am using to navigate this period of my life and the more I learn, the more I will share with you all.
I welcome all of you to this conversation, none of us need to experience this alone.
Sources: *Australasian Menopausal Society