Menopause Mondays: Perimenopause and Menopause – What Age Does It Begin?
We’ve all heard that there is a peak age for ovulation; a time when your body is ripe with baby-making magic, and there are eggs as far as the sperm can swim! Well, too bad that age is about 18, and by the time we’re actually ready to have babies, your egg count has gone down. Way down…
Contrary to what you may be thinking right now, this post is not meant to freak you out, or make you fall into a series of depression-induced, Ben and Jerry’s-related brain freezes. Nope. This information is GOOD to know. Women in their thirties are not thinking about menopause yet, even though perimenopause (the 6-10 years before menopause) can begin as early as 35 years old. Come to mama. I’m here to help.
Perimenopause is the stage of your life that is, unfortunately, home to most of the symptoms we associate with menopause. Menopause is simply defined by the absence of your period for 12 consecutive months. Period. Perimenopause precedes this.
Rapid egg decline (this is what I like to call it) goes like this: fertility is highest between the ages of 18-22. Once you reach 30 years old, it begins to decline. At 35, it has gone down sharply. By the time you reach 40 years old, only about 40% of women are able to conceive without medical intervention. Why is this? Because by the time you reach 40, your body is gearing up for perimenopause, if it isn’t already there. Hormones are changing, and your reproductive system has begun spring cleaning. .
So, how do you know if you’re in perimenopause? What are some symptoms that you can expect from being in this stage of your life? Brace yourself: the answers aren’t all that pretty…
memory lapses (sticky notes aplenty)
unusually depressed or withdrawn
overall sense that I’m not OK
tense (like a rubber band ready to snap)
bursts of anger
low sex drive
oddly dry skin
sore or ballooning breasts
increased chin whiskers
hot flashes or flushes
weight gain (shrinking pants)
stiffness, aches, and pains
excessive vaginal discharge
breakthrough vaginal bleeding
dry vagina (sex hurts)
harder to reach orgasm
On the plus side of things, women rarely experience all of these symptoms. (Thank you, Mother Nature!) Some women glide right through perimenopause without even realizing they’re in it. Just know that if you feel like you’re going crazy, you begin to experience weird issues that make you scour the web, late at night, searching for solutions, and you’re between the ages of 35-45, then you’re probably experiencing perimenopause to some extent, and this is normal. Your friends may not admit it, but they’re probably going through it too. The best advice I can give you in these early stages of transition, is to find a good menopause specialist! Then throw a Menopause Mondays Party! Yes, gather up your girlfriends (otherwise known as The Sisterhood) so you can share your experiences. Help yourself and them out by facilitating some perimenopause communication.
Remember: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!