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Making sense of perimenopause

Recently I ran an online menopause session with a great group of women. One of the themes that came up was how many women are not actually aware that they are in perimenopause. Or even what the hell that means!

What IS perimenopause?

Perimenopause is the time from when you start experiencing any of the 100+ symptoms of fluctuating estrogen levels, and can happen at any age, although often from 45 onwards. Most women are aware of missed or sporadic periods, hot flushes and night sweats. But did you know that the following are also very common signs?

  • Depression and anxiety

  • Breathing difficulty

  • Feeling nervous and losing confidence

  • Short term memory issues

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Extreme tiredness and loss of interest in many things

  • Feeling suicidal

  • Joint and muscle pain or numbness.

And that's just a few!

So...what is menopause?

The term menopause refers only to the one day that is 12 months since your last period. That's the medical definition. It can be hard to know this date if you are not tracking your period.

And after that day? We are classified as post-menopausal for the rest of our lives.

So perimenopause, menopause, post menopause - it's really all the same thing.

Menopause is more than physical

A second theme from last night was that menopause is not just a list of physical symptoms - it's also a huge psychological journey to your new self. Peeling off all the layers and discovering who you really are, and what you REALLY want to do for yourself. For instance, one of last night's participants has started a university degree at 54 after never having had the chance before. And she's loving it! How fantastic is that?!

The third main theme was how important it is to have a network of supportive friends to help each other through this time of our lives. Whether in person or online, just knowing that you have other women to connect with is a lifeline for me.

Some resources for you

Below is a list of useful resources that we talked about in the session. I hope you find them helpful too if you are navigating this stage of your life. And If you'd like to join in next time I hold this workshop, or you would like to talk about holding a session for your workplace, please contact me.

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