Discover more from äventyr.cc
What I Would Tell This Girl
Things You Need to Know (Yes YOU) to Navigate Late Perimenopause
There is so much I wish this woman in the picture had known. But the world wasn’t quite ready to share it with her at the time. She knew ‘IT’ was coming, she had heard faint whispers. But that’s really all she knew.
I envy this woman; what she didn’t know, she didn’t know. BUT, she also knew that that was the whole problem!
She knew because she had just switched doctors. She knew she needed to ‘prepare’. But that’s pretty much all she knew.
I wish she had known so much more, but she didn’t. She couldn’t. Because the world wasn’t there yet, and really ~ neither was she.
Fast forward to 4 years later and BAM! This woman is a very different woman, and lucky for her ~ so is the world of information she lives in. She’s definitely living IN ‘IT’ ~ the moment she had hoped to know more about back in 2019. But she has realized, maybe you can never really know more until you are IN IT.
That said, she knows that there is MUCH MORE you can know before you get to the point where you realize you KNOW NOTHING. Let me explain…
As a GenXer, the words 'perimenopause’ and ‘menopause’ were never part of my vocabulary. No one talked about these things, and no one said these words. I had absolutely NEVER ever even given them a thought. That is until I was around 43, and my dermatologist said the word ‘perimenopause’ to me. I pretty much froze in the moment; it was a bit shocking, and terrifying. And I had no idea what it was, I had never heard the word before. What the heck IS perimenopause?!
I started noticing that I wasn’t alone, my friends and acquaintances were having similar experiences. Most women I talked to would also ask their mother’s what their experiences were like and would get responses similar to ‘oh, I don’t remember’.
I didn’t understand why the terminology was like a foreign language to us, why we all had to feel so alone, or why NO ONE was talking about this. I knew I wanted to use my small platform of äventyr to TALK about these things. And what got me excited was that from the time I decided I was going to say something, other GenX women decided to say something too. In the four years I have been thinking about writing about this topic, multiple celebrities have started not only talking about perimenopause, turning 50, menopause, and aging ~ they have launched companies and written books. But more importantly, there are better educated doctors, well researched books, well researched articles, smart podcasts, and I have athletic peers who are willing to talk openly about their experiences and support me through my challenges. I no longer feel alone, and ‘THE TRANSITION’ is so much less scary to me now (still a little though…).
When I started this journey into late perimenopause and the menopause transition (which likely was kicking into high gear around 2019), I was very unaware I was on it. I was still in preparation mode. And unfortunately MUCH of the information at my fingertips today did not even exist. There are definitely things I would have done differently knowing what I know now. I can’t go back and change time, but I can tell you from my personal experience my top tips ~ whether you are having symptoms or not.
These are my top tips for you:
Be honest with yourself. The menopause transition (moving from late perimenopause to menopause) is not going to skip over you. Don’t have thoughts about ‘maybe I won’t get it’, because it is not a virus! This is a major physical change going on in your body and whether you have symptoms big or small, you will go through it. The sooner you admit that to yourself you can get on with the important bits…
There is a TRANSITION and this can, and most likely will, start in your 40’s. Just because you don’t think you are in menopause yet doesn’t mean you won’t have symptoms, in fact it is the opposite. Many symptoms start in perimenopause. Pro Tip: It’s not just about hot flashes. It’s not like all of the sudden you are ‘in menopause’, in fact the transition is the rockiest part for many women.
Pay attention to your body. If you are an athlete, you may have a tendency to think symptoms you are having are because of anything but the menopause transition. And it is possible you may actually find you do have a health issue you did not realize you had. But, you may also be suffering from symptoms of late perimenopause that you can talk to your doctor about, and work with them to alleviate the issues. I WISH I had figured this out a year ago! I blamed so many of my physical challenges the last year on other things, but if I had known that my best friend estrogen was having a wild ride out of my body saying goodbye, I would have definitely sought better help sooner. More on this in a separate story later.
Estrogen. Estrogen. Estrogen. Know for a fact that estrogen is a crucial part of your body, and has been for your entire adult life. It is leaving. It can not be ‘replaced’. And it’s not the kind of leaving where it will exit through the front door and that’s it. Nope, your friend Estrogen is leaving through the front door and taking you with it on a crazy rollercoaster ride you can’t get off. It is probably a longer goodbye than you would like. BUT, you can do something about it. Much more on this later.
Don’t Go IT Alone. Build ‘your’ team. You need a doctor, first and foremost above all else. A GOOD one (see #7). But you also may benefit from a dermatologist, fitness coach, a nutritionist, and friends going through the same thing. That said having a team isn’t perfect and can potentially lead you down the wrong path at moments, so proceed with educated caution. Before all this do #7. More on all of this coming up.
Trust yourself. No one knows you better than you. Your ‘team’ of course can be helpful, but they can only meet with you rarely and for brief periods of time (unless you have a lot of money to spend). If something isn’t working, evaluate and address. You know you, even though you might not be feeling like you at the moment. Don’t just take the advice and run with it in desperation. Trust me.
Find a NAMS Certified and up-to-date Board Certified Doctor! NOW! This really should be my #1 tip. I partially did the right thing in 2019, I switched to a women’s specialist doctor, and I really think she tried her best to get me down the right path. BUT, I wish instead I would have immediately found a NAMS Certified doctor (which I now have). This truly is THE most important thing you should do. NUMBER ONE. Much MUCH more on this later.
Yes, you still need to have a annual exam. In fact, these exams are more important now than ever. Keep doing them! I didn’t so much need the advice to schedule an exam in my 40s (I needed my birth control refilled), but I wish I would have had advice about how important this appointment is during perimenopause and the menopause transition. Your healthcare as a woman isn’t ending, it is beginning a new important and life changing chapter. Keep going! I am lucky to have found a NAMS Dr. who will also be giving me my annual exam, bonus!
Your annual exam is NOT the time to have an in-depth conversation with your doctor about perimenopause and the menopause transition, that’s a different appointment. If you are having ANY symptoms, or want to be prepared, find the right doctor who can help guide you. See #7. This will be a separate piece I will be writing (lots to say there!).
Knowledge is power, educate yourself (with factual researched scientific information)! Unfortunately in 2019 I was given a maroon folder of information called “Mid—Life Transitions” from my new doctor at my annual exam. I wish instead of the folder she had said ‘I unfortunately do not have time to explain this all to you at your annual exam, but please use this as a starting resource and do #7. Even if it doesn’t seem relevant now, it will’.
SO.MUCH.MORE. to say about all this, and I will in an upcoming story.
Thanks for reading GenX Notes! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work and mental health.
There is no FIX to get back to ‘NORMAL’. I have finally realized I’m not getting the ‘old me’ back, but I can get the new evolving me to a pretty good place for where it is at today. That doesn’t mean it will be the same tomorrow or next year. And that means ACCEPTANCE and MANAGEMENT ~ that doesn’t mean ‘live with it’, it means there are better ways to live.
Give yourself some grace. “Your Body WILL Change and here is why….” Totally wish someone had said that to me and explained the scientific reasons of what was going on. Luckily today I have good books and podcasts. This is one of the biggest mental adjustments to wrap your head around, and I am still doing it. I just realized recently that it didn’t help this was all happening to me in the hardest parts of the pandemic, the parts where we were told not to go to a doctor. I’m pretty convinced that wasn’t helpful to me. But realizing it helps me give myself some grace.
Symptoms may seriously affect your health, be careful. Luckily they can be MANAGED. This is why #7 is so important.
My hope is that by writing Gen X Notes someone finds what I have to say useful, even if it is one person. The worst thing we can all do to ourselves as women is none of the above. I see it with my own eyes - women who haven’t found the resources I have and are suffering. I myself was suffering until just two months ago. As I say in #11, there is no going back to ‘normal’, but you can get to a much better place once you start facing this transition head on.
And if you are not anywhere close to this part of your life, do yourself a favor and understand it and support the women in your life who are.
I can’t wait to share with you all the stories I want to write in the coming months. As an everyday athlete, I have a lot to say. Thanks for being here. ~DeAnn