Monday, February 16, 2009

Perimenopause,The World's Greatest Rollercoaster

Having lived through perimenopause and made it through alive I feel as though I have experienced the world?s greatest roller coaster ride.

Quite a feat for someone who won?t even get on a traditional rollercoaster due to the overwhelming sense of panic and the unfounded belief that I won?t make it off alive.

Unfortunately, we as women do not have a choice in perimenopause. It is a life transition we will go through whether we want to or not. Just like beginning menstruation, it is hardwired into our genetics and we all find different ways to process how it affects our life.

As young women we do get some preparation that menstruation is imminent. Today in school young women are prepared for the change that is coming in their lives. They are educated about the signs are leading up to it such as bodily changes, emotional changes and what they may expect when the onset begins. The age range is quite narrower for the start of menstruation than for the transition into perimenopause.

The signs of perimenopause can begin 10 to 15 years before menopause actually occurs. What that means is that the rollercoaster ride of symptoms can begin as early as your late thirties or you can transition in and out throughout your forties and fifties. When dealing this large a range, what is really happening in a women?s life is often overlooked or misdiagnosed. It often goes unsuspected by the women themselves. Even Oprah was thrown off guard.

Many women have suffered in silence quietly harboring the fear that something is seriously wrong with them. This is because the symptoms of perimenopause are wide spread and at times vague. We also do not have any official preparation for what is coming.

The easily recognizable signs are hot flashes, night sweats, sleep irregularities and irregular periods. These are often the first signs that cause a woman to recognize that something is changing. Weight gain or the subtle changing of a women?s body is often another recognizable sign. The shift appears to occur even if our diet and exercise regime remain as they always have been.

There are many, somewhat vague symptoms that also occur during this transition. Heart palpitations, changes in skin and hair and brain fog or a feeling of not being able to think clearly are reported by many women. Anxiety and feelings or overwhelm are also reported. There comes that day after we catch our self forgetting the most basic information that we wonder if we are indeed losing our mind.

An increase in the number and severity of headaches is also another complaint that will send a woman to her doctor. What often happens is the headache is treated but the underlying hormonal shifts are missed. The fix is temporary and many women still feel uneasy and not comfortable in their own bodies.

On top of that perimenopause is state of extreme flux as our hormones are shifting. The symptoms come and go along with our periods. Still we find today that women are often not diagnosed with what is truly happening but sent home with antidepressants instead. The disappointment and frustration occurs when the hoped for relief never materializes.

All in all for a number of years it can feel as though we are on a wild rollercoaster ride and we are not sure of the outcome.

If you feel that you have joined thousands of other women on this wild ride but are feeling out of the loop start today by getting support. There are many online groups for women going through perimenopause as well as ones who have made it through and are willing to share the benefit of their experience. It is a safe place to put words to your symptoms and see if they are being experienced by other women.

Research the topic online as well as offline. You will find a multitude of information that will allow you to assess if you are truly beginning ?the change?. Advocate for yourself with your doctor. If you are being treated with antidepressants and not feeling relief then insist that your hormone levels be checked. It is at least a first step and will give you a baseline reading to use as a starting point.

And most importantly, know that you are not on this rollercoaster ride alone.

Maureen Staiano is a Life Coach specializing in working with women and the unique challenges, opportunities and transitions we face in our lives. Please visit me: and also visit my blog

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