Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Flow or No Flow???

It would seem since I first went public about my “menopausal” symptoms and long before I ever envisioned starting this blog, some women enjoyed sharing with me that they indeed are still in the flow so to speak and not menopausal. It was said often at times, with a certain air of girlish glee and a tossing of the head, as though this fact made them invincible to the tide of change that is coming for them all. And dare I say it; there was an air of female bravado…much like a younger male struts and puffs his chest in an attempt to show off his prowess and virility.

I am in what is called the Perimenopausal phase of a woman's menstrual cycle.This is the approximately ten year period leading up to the cessation of menstruation. It can last longer for some and shorter for others. Symptoms can be mild to severe. Most women tend to notice a disturbed sleeping pattern during this phase, which can be precipitated by hot flashes and/or heart palpitations.

Typically, most women follow a pattern during this time similar to that of their mother. This is not a hard and fast truth, but many of the experts agree, if your mother had a rough time with perimenopause than chances are you will too. Same with menopause. Also, you will typically stop your flow at approximately the same age she was, so if you wonder when that was, please ask her while you can, it is vital information for your personal health records. 

My mother was almost 54 when hers stopped and yes her hormones raged at just the time I was entering highschool. It was a challenging time for all of us as mom would rail on one minute in anger at the silliest of things, then look to be your best friend and confidant in the next moment.  Confusing, you bet, especially given my own cycle of hormonal ups and downs that all teens encounter!

I have literally read hundreds of books on the subject over the last 10 or more years. I am a voracious and insatiable  reader and think nothing of having a minimum of 5 to 10 books being read simultaneously, in fact, I prefer it! 

Two books I found quite useful were Dr. Christiane Northrup's book called The Wisdom of Menopause. You need to look past the new-agey type references which I did in some places, to fully appreciate the incredible wealth of information that is here. It is an invaluable resource from a woman who has been there in so many ways. Another book I thoroughly enjoyed for its very detailed and well researched biological and physiological explanation  of a woman's progression from infant to mature woman and more is The Female Brain written by Louann Brizendine MD.

In the meantime, if you seem to have a shorter fuse in the last few years or so and your memory is not what it used to be you could be starting down that path toward menopause. You might also find yourself having gaining some weight in the middle region that is much harder to lose then it was a few years or so ago. Or perhaps there is a dryness to your skin that is not just noticeable during the winter months. Or there may be slow decrease in energy, nothing too drastic, but noticeable. There might also be some clotty, heavy flows one month and a very spotty light flow the next, or a total increase or decrease in the number of days you actual menstruate. You may find yourself waking more frequently early in the morning and find it most difficult to fall back asleep. Or those night wakings may be preceded by a pounding heart or feelings of heat and/or sweating. These and more are just some of the many symptoms that we all get in the years leading up to menopause, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but in some women these symptoms can contiunue for some years after cessation as well.
This is why it is so important to do what you can now to make this transition time as easy on yourself and your loved ones. Arm yourself with knowledge, don't bury your head in the sand wishing it will just go away. The earlier you catch things and make adjustments the easier perhaps this time will be for you!

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