FLO (For Ladies Only) – The Finish Line

It’s kind of like mile 5 of a 10k. You’re more than 3/4 of the way to the finish line and are either feeling strong and ready to kick in high gear or feeling beat down. Either way, you are more than ready to make it to the finish line so that you can get the shirt, the medal, the food and the beer. That’s my take on perimenopause. I know the end is near and that there is a party at the finish line. What’s not like a 10-K is the stuff that happens during that time. Things are wildly unpredictable, and though you know the end will come, you have no freaking idea when.

What is Perimenopause?
“Perimenopause means “around menopause” and refers to the time period during which a woman’s body makes its natural transition toward permanent infertility (menopause). Perimenopause is also called the menopausal transition.” The transition begins sometime in the 40s but can happen in the 30s in some women. [Mayo Clinic] I made the move last year at 46 when my body just flipped the hell out!

What’s the flip out like?

  • Menstrual irregularity – As ovulation becomes more unpredictable, the length of time between periods may be longer or shorter, your flow may be light to heavy, and you may skip some periods. I missed one and was like HELL YEAH this is about to be over! Then it came right back. The timing is so off right now, I MUST use a calendar.
  • Hot flashes and sleep problems – Many women experience hot flashes during perimenopause. The intensity, length and frequency vary. Sleep problems are often due to hot flashes or night sweats, but sometimes sleep becomes unpredictable even without them. Never been a good sleeper and temperature-wise I’m either freezing or roasting. Then one day I just busted out sweating for no reason and was not ill. They don’t happen often thank God but when they do, I just want to be nekkid.
  • Mood changes –  Some women experience mood swings, irritability or increased risk of depression during perimenopause, but the cause of these symptoms may be sleep disruption caused by hot flashes. The cray cray, enough said.
  • Weight gain. The hormonal changes of menopause might make you more likely to gain weight around your abdomen than around your hips and thighs. Hormonal changes alone don’t necessarily trigger menopause weight gain, however. Instead, the weight gain is usually related to aging, as well as lifestyle and genetic factors. I’d not really gained weight I lose and gain the same four pounds every week, what I did notice though was that the weight appeared “redistributed” i.e. my stomach was on SWOLE.
  • Breast tenderness/swelling – especially troublesome for this member of the ibtc 😉

Perimenopausal women may also experience:

  • Vaginal and bladder problems
  • Decreasing fertility
  • Changes in sexual function
  • Loss of bone
  • Changing cholesterol levels

The kicker though is that even though the lady parts are aging, if not careful a miniature human can be produced O_O.

In perimenopause there’s a whole lot of stuff going on in one body. The process is part of life, a good thing, but can prove particularly worrisome. Here’s some things you can do to make life more bearable as you approach the finish line.

  • See your doctor – if some or all of the above is going on, the first stop should be your practitioner’s office. Your doctor can run tests to rule out other conditions and let you know if you’re in transmission mode. They can also prescribe medications to help your symptoms.
  • Eat well – as a woman of a certain age, you’re probably not eating the stuff you used to eat 20 or 30 years ago anyway. That said, though you may crave more comfort foods because of the change in your body, steer clear. Sugar and booze may feel good but too much of it can become problematic. Eat well for YOUR body. I won’t recommend any type of eating here, because what makes me feel good, may not be the same for you. Seek all the information you can and devise a way of eating for LIFE, not just the short term. For help, contact your doctor and or nutritionist.
  • Exercise – If you’re already exercising great! Turn it up a notch by increasing intensity during your cardio sessions and increasing the weight during strength training. Not strength training? Hire a trainer to get you up and running and show you how to use proper form. Don’t worry you’re a babe, you will NOT look like the Hulk from strength training. Just understand that muscle mass decreases and metabolism slows with age and if you’re in perimenopause or post menopausal get what? You’re aging. If you’re not exercising now or need to lose weight, I can’t stress enough, make your first stop your doctor for an evaluation/clearance to get started.
  • Don’t forget your brain – all hormonal, all the time can make you foggy, moody and you may even have bouts of depression. See a mental health professional to address these concerns. Your mind is nothing to play with. To enjoy your time at the finish line make mental health/wellness a priority.

Perimenopause is not this evil thing even though sometimes it may feel like it. We’re living in a great time to make the transition because there are a number of resources and treatments available to us now that our mama’s and grandmas did not have. Take advantage of all that’s available to you and enjoy it. This might just be the best time of your life.

Until next time, see you at the gym where I may be sweating with no effort at all. 🙂

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Sources: My PCP and GYN, Mayo Clinic, WebMD, About.com, Google and my mom.

Photo: MsThorns