At Halloween time, kids are worried about getting the candy they want. Adults are worried that they won’t have enough candy to give out or that they need to find a costume for a costume party. If you’re in perimenopause or menopause, however, you might feel like all you need is a broom! You and your family may be afraid that your menopausal symptoms are the sign of something more serious… or that they’re here to stay for good. Now that’s scary!
I’m happy to tell you that neither is true. In most cases, your menopausal symptoms are simply that: the side effects that come with the change of life. And, while they may seem never-ending, there is a jack-o-lantern at the end of the tunnel.
Let’s take a look at the symptoms I’ve listed in my Menopause Symptoms Chart, and how you can demystify them to give yourself a little less trick and a little more treat.
If you’re one of those women whose period was so regular you could set your clock to it, forget your flow status quo. If your cramps were nothing to write home about, all bets are off now.
You’re likely to experience anything from spotting to lighter or heavier periods. You may even have some breakthrough bleeding (between cycles, whatever that may be). While a range of flow is normal and nothing to lose sleep over (you’ll be losing enough sleep anyway — more on that in a minute), report any extremely unusual bleeding to your menopause specialist.
You may have Freddy Krueger-style cramps, or no discomfort whatsoever. Just as women’s periods differ greatly before menopause, their menses symptoms will differ greatly during perimenopause and menopause.
And, of course, you’ll miss (as in skip) periods. The time between periods will become greater and greater until your periods say “sayonara.”
Misplacing your keys or your reading glasses is nothing to be concerned about. As we age, our memory begins to fail us (along with our metabolism, our hearing, our eyesight — but that’s a whole other story). During menopause, though, brain fog is quite common. If you find yourself saying, “Why are there kids in costumes at my front door?” then this is for you! To stave off age-related memory issues, you can do brain exercises. After all, we exercise other parts of our body.
You also might be overly sensitive, experience uncontrollable crying, be unusually depressed or withdrawn, super stressed out, anxious or overwhelmed by it all. You might not even want to answer that doorbell when the little kids come a-calling. Again, this too shall pass. Of course, if your mood swings are interfering with your daily life, see your menopause specialist.
On the other hand, you might be extremely grumpy (let’s call it witchy), angry or even violent. Think of it as PMS on steroids. I recommend sitting down with your family to let them know how you are feeling. This way, they will not personalize your mood swings. Ask your loved ones for their support and understanding. It’s the hormones, not them!
And, to top it all off, you may find that your libido has gone and left you stranded. Perimenopause/menopause does not have to take the treat out of your life. Communicate with your partner — and your doctor — on ways to reclaim your sex drive.
The list of physical symptoms during menopause is as long as the lines for the haunted house. From insomnia, migraines, hot flashes, night sweats, hair loss and heart palpitations… to bloating, breast tenderness and being exhausted… to packing on the pounds and perennial peeing… to vaginal discharge, dryness and difficulty reaching orgasm… it’s a veritable haunted house of symptoms. They may be a bit scary, to put it lightly, but they’re definitely not life threatening. If certain symptoms (like lack of sleep) are impacting your ability to function, then it’s time to call your menopause specialist.
Perimenopause and menopause don’t have to spook you! A good menopause specialist can get you the help you need and deserve. Oh, I forgot to mention one more common fear among menopausal women this time of year… the fear that you’ll eat all of the Halloween candy before you hear your doorbell ring and that first chorus of “Trick or treat!”
Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!