Is Your Perimenopause Trying To Kill You? Mine IsApr 21, 2022
It's time we have an honest talk about menopause symptoms
My menopausal transition started with severe anxiety episodes that came out of nowhere. I don’t have a history of anxiety or depression, so I was surprised when they hit me. I’m thankful for the knowledge I have accumulated over the last decade in studying menopause and working with menopausal women. I recognized that the anxiety was possibly related to menopause, even though my periods were still normal and regular. I reached out to my doctor and saw a counselor help me manage the anxiety. I even received some low-level anti-anxiety medication to help. Luckily, after a few months, the anxiety subsided to make room for hot flashes and night sweats. But, again, my periods were still normal and regular at this point. At this point, I knew that I had entered perimenopause for sure. I dealt with the hot flashes for a few months, but eventually, they became so bad that I couldn’t sleep, so again, off to the doc I went. She prescribed birth control to help with the symptoms. By the time I received the medication (a few weeks later), my body had decided that hot flashes were no longer interesting, so it moved on to irregular periods that could be part of a slasher horror movie. These unpredictable bleeding episodes are worse than the other phases because it is unpredictable and leaves me completely depleted. After the first round of feeling like my uterus was having a closeout sale, I became anemic. I started taking a prescription iron supplement but not soon enough before the next round of the everything-must-go period. My doctor is slightly concerned about the blood loss and was joking-not-joking suggesting that if we can’t get it under control, I might need a transfusion. Welcome to the menopause roller coaster ride. You never know what will hit you next or when it will hit!
Why am I sharing this?
Because my experience is not an isolated one, still, women don’t know how to detect symptoms of menopause or know what to do with them. Often, women’s symptoms are dismissed as not menopause-related because they still have regular periods. The fact is that many symptoms, especially depression, anxiety, and hot flashes, start before menstrual irregularities. It is essential to know that the menopausal transition is considered a “window of vulnerability” for the development of depressive symptoms and that women with prior history of mood disorders and/or depression are at a much higher risk for developing symptoms of depression during the menopausal transition and into early postmenopause.
By sharing my own experience, I want to open the conversation. If I hadn’t known about menopause, possible symptoms, and treatment options, I would have felt like I was losing my mind (and I did when I first started having anxiety). We need to start getting comfortable talking about menopause, periods with blood clots that leave you wondering if you just lost an organ, out-of-nowhere anxiety and mood swings, vaginal dryness…. The list could go on and on. We have to normalize talking about these things, so let’s have a conversation.
What is your experience? Any unexpected symptoms, roller coaster bumps? You can share in the comments below.