perimenopauseWhile following a course on post natal training by Burrell Education I was made aware, via their marketing, of the fact that later in life women will hit perimenopause before their menopause, but I hadn’t realised at that point I might experience this already. 

I was 43 when I was suddenly experiencing wakeful nights. It got to the point that it was affecting my day to day life. I was exhausted and had no idea what was going on. When I was awake in the night it wasn’t like my brain was racing, it was quite calm, however I couldn’t get back to sleep. 

Incidentally I was noticing my boobs were really sore before my period started. The first days of my periods were getting a bit heavier which was a bit tiring. I didn’t put a link between these things. I did however go to the doctor about the tiredness and she did a raft of blood tests and didn’t find anything apart from my vitamin D being on the low end of OK. So she suggested taking vitamin D supplements when we hit winter. But it left me with no answer. I told her my periods were a bit heavier, but she didn’t suggest it had anything to do with perimenopause. 

Paralel from this, I was reading the book “Period Repair Manual” by Lara Briden. It is the kind of book you read and realise you should have read it years ago. It is a comprehensive book about what to expect your period to be like, what is normal and what is not and makes suggestions on what to do to make improvements to your health that will positively improve your menstruation. 

The chapter that was a revelation to me is called “What happens in your 40s” and surprise, surprise… they listed nine changes that take place. I realised that not only were the 3 symptoms mentioned above, I was also feeling warm at night the days before my period. It actually mentions night sweats which I don’t really have, but I definitely feel a lot warmer and wake up because of it. 

I have to say it felt a bit sad to have hit perimenopause. It made me feel old before I was ready and I was actually a bit shocked. But the reality is that you can experience some changes already in your early 40s and some people even in your late 30s. 

On the positive side, figuring it out relatively quickly meant that I was able to take action and try to find ways to make this time of my life a bit easier.

The book explains the roller coaster of your hormone estrogen and the decline of the progesterone is the reason we experience these symptoms. If you are interested in more details in the topic, I strongly recommend this blog

She makes suggestions that include rest and self care and reducing alcohol consumption (I don’t drink a lot of alcohol anyway). On the book’s advice I started taking magnesium and vitamin b6 (if you want to do the same please check if is appropriate for you and any medication you are taking). I wouldn’t say that I no longer wake in the night but I no longer have those crippling nights on end of waking that really affected my life. 

I feel it also helped my pre menstrual symptoms a bit. I still have sore boobs and sometimes I have a heavy period but, I feel like these are relatively minor and I can deal with

I have learned that tracking my period (which is great for all menstruating women by the way) also helps with symptoms. This topic deserve a blog of its own, but in brief it means that the last week of the cycle my training is taken easier. It is a recovery week and I really feel this approach makes me feel more energised for when my cycle starts again and I generally feel less fatigued and no longer fighting against sessions as I have low hormones.

The reason I write this blog is to share my experience with the perimenopause so far and to help make this something that we speak about more freely. I am not sure what will come next for me but, at the moment, I am feeling more accepting of going through this phase. I am happy there are some solutions and I keep reading and researching to find out more. What do you think? Are you experiencing something similar?

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Author: Lorna Wilson

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