You may have heard reference of peri-menopause or the menopause transition. We then have menopause, and then we have post menopause, so it can get a little confusing. And I know when I first started experiencing menopause myself, I was totally confused as to what was happening when and why and what the hell I was supposed to do about it all. So today in this really simple video, I'm just going to break the three stages of menopause for you.
So your very first stage is what we call perimenopause or the menopause transition. Now this refers to the years that are leading up to your menopause. So this traditionally is recognized as happening, happening from kind of about 40 to 45 years onwards.
However, it's really important to note that perimenopause can happen as early as 35. So really important if you are somewhere between in 35 and 40 and you experience any of the symptoms that I'm gonna talk about in a moment that can be attributed to the menopausal years or the menopause transitional years, that you don't allow a doctor a, a medical specialist or your preferred medical therapist to tell you that you're too young for menopause, because perimenopause can start as early as 35 and some women.
So now that we know what years, this kind of starts kicking in, like I said, as early as 35, more likely to be between 40 and 55, the symptoms that you will experience that will indicate to you, that you are in the thick of these years are really quite straightforward. Some of them, and then there's a whole bunch of other symptoms that may seem completely unrelated, but oftentimes they are linked right back up to the fact that you're in perimenopause.
So your obvious symptoms are going to be that your period starts changing. Now that may be that you get heavier bleeds. It may be mean that you get lighter bleeds. It might mean that your cycle becomes completely erratic, and you may go a couple of months with no bleed. And then all of a sudden hello period is back now.
Whilst we are in this period of flux where our, our period is coming and going lighter or heavier it's really important to know that you can still fall pregnant in the perimenopausal and menopausal transitional years. So if you are 45 and all of a sudden you've gone without a period for a couple of months or a couple of cycles, please don't get super excited and think that that's it.
You are done. I'm in menopause. Don't need to worry about this anymore, because it's still very likely that until you have been diagnosed as menopausal that you can still fall pregnant. And there are many examples of women that, have menopause babies - surprise! So yes, we can still fall pregnant in the perimenopausal and menopausal transitional years.
We can also experience in that time what's called a "flash period". So that may mean that you've gone quite a significant amount of time. It can be six months, seven months without a period, and then you can experience an incredibly heavy bleed. And this can be quite traumatic for some women, particularly if you are in a situation where this happens to you at work it can be very hard to manage the flow when it's super heavy. And it's one of these flash periods.
If you do experience a flash period, a) don't panic, because it's most likely that it's linked directly to your perimenopausal, menopausal transition, however it is always, always recommended that you go and seek advice from a GP to ensure that there isn't any underlying condition going on that has perhaps contributed to this flash period that you've experienced.
Now, there are also a whole host of other symptoms that you might experience in your perimenopause. And these can be everything from hot flushes which you can experience during the day and during the night when they come at night and they are night sweats, they can be pretty brutal. I know, personally, when I was going through a really heavy period of night sweats, I woke up a couple of nights to my sheets and my pajamas being so soaked through and wet from sweat that I had to wake my husband up to change the sheets on the bed.
It's really uncomfortable. It's kind of embarrassing. It's really kind of gross.
And it doesn't happen to every woman and not all night sweats will be that intense, but it's just good to know that they can be, so hot flushes day and night. For anyone that hasn't experienced a hot flush yet it is the weirdest experience for me. It was a little bit like I flushed from the top down. So literally I would, feel the hot flush coming on. I would feel myself kind of getting hot and then I could literally feel it transition down through my body and out my feet, it was so bizarre. And it's quite uncomfortable when it happens. You feel like you are burning up, you feel like you are bright red and people must be looking at you thinking, oh my God, what is going on with her?
Why is she suddenly sweating?
But I found that most people actually had no idea that I was feeling the way that I was feeling. It was very much just a flush that went through me and I managed to keep a straight face and keep smiling. And, you know, if I had something in my hand, I might fan myself, but there was no evidence, and I asked people a few times if they'd actually been able to see me have my hot flash and they were like, no, didn't notice the thing. So you might like you're on fire, but the person that you might be talking to is not necessarily going to recognise that you are feeling that way.
So hot flushes, you may also experience cognitive changes. Now these can be brain fog. It can be memory loss. It can be literally forgetting things like, you know, I've had moments where I've picked up my phone with the clear intention of picking up my phone to do something, to be productive, to take an action. And I literally pick up my phone. I look at it and it's gone. And it's like, what the just happened? I picked up my phone for a reason. I know that I picked my phone up for a reason, but I literally cannot remember what that reason was. Phone down, walk away comes back eventually.
The other thing that can happen is you can have word loss. Now, this is something that I struggled with personally, and it was actually one of my first real indicators that what was going on for me was linked to menopause. And I struggled with word loss very significantly. Now I'm a very articulate person, as you can tell, I can talk until the cows come home.
I love talking. I I talk to anyone about anything or the long now when you are talking and you're trying to describe something, you know, I had moments where I was like, "and so see this yeah, this, this thing that's in front of me. I'm using it right now to pick up audio. I can't remember the name of it. I, I literally can't tell you what it's called. I'm really sorry. This is really embarrassing. Yeah, we'll come back to that."
This is a microphone. I know this is a microphone. My brain is , you know what this is, but the word is literally lost on the tip of your tongue. And for me, this was mortifying and for a woman in a work environment, it can be one of the hardest symptoms and side effects of perimenopause to manage.
So cognitive function impact during perimenopause is real. And if it's something that you're really struggling with, then I'm going to do some videos coming up soon where we'll talk about some strategies to manage that, some treatments that you can seek that can help all of these symptoms so that they don't become debilitating and they don't become a burden for you, and you don't have to suffer in silence.
The other changes can be a change in your body shape. Particularly feeling like you've gained some weight in the mid region, a tummy. But you actually haven't changed your food. You haven't changed your exercise routine. It's literally that your body fat is moving to store in different parts of your body and the most prominent area that we notice it is our tummy.
So there are changes to shape and that feeling of having put on weight and your clothes perhaps fitting you differently to how they did without any obvious reason.
We have skin conditions. Some women will get really dry skin and come out in rashes in certain areas. Vaginal dryness is a significant issue and changes to the vulva and vaginal area. Also symptoms and signs that you are experie menopause or per menopause and the menopause transition.
So why these changes are happening is all linked to hormonal changes. You'll be familiar that as women, we go through our early childhood years where hormones are very stable. We then go through puberty where our bodies starts preparing for carrying babies.
Then we go through our child bearing years. So we go early childhood puberty, childbearing years, then our body goes, okay, you know what we're we're done with this childbearing business.
Whether you have, or have not had children, you will experience these perimenopausal and menopausal transitions.
And then your body prepares for the years where you don't have to worry about anything to do with childbearing. So these are all natural hormonal changes that the female body has been designed to go through. Now, the emotional roller coaster that comes with all of this again is also linked to the hormonal changes.
Our estrogen, our progesterone are like on a rollercoaster and one will be up and one will be down and then they'll swap. And that's why you might get heavy periods and light periods.
And all of these changes that your body is going through, play out in our emotions which are all driven by our hormonal system.
So then once we've been through the years leading up to menopause, we go through what is called menopause. Now menopause is defined as the date 12 months from your last period.
We talked in the perimenopausal transitional years about periods coming and going, maybe going for a few months, but then coming back. So it's not until you have been a complete 12 months without any bleeding, without any period, that you will then deemed to have been, or to be in menopause. And this can be confirmed by your doctors, your specialists through blood tests to assess what your hormonal levels are at that point in time.
And then from that point on, you are considered to be postmenopausal. The symptoms and experiences that you may have had during your perimenopausal stage, your menopause transitional stage, they can continue for a little while postmenopausal but they will definitely reduce, and you will move into a stage where you won't have any of these symptoms and ongoing issues.
The really key thing that I would love for you all to take away here is that the discomfort and the concerns and issues that you might experience during your perimenopausal, menopausal transitional stages, they are not forever. They may last for a few years. They may last for a few months, that's going to be different for every woman.
But the most important thing to hold onto and to remember is that they are not forever, you will move into a phase where you don't experience any of these things anymore. And I personally think that this is such an exciting phase of womanhood to be in.
This is not a crisis. This is not the end of the best years of your life. This is not all downhill from here.
This is where as women, we can fully step into our power and we can raise our voices and we can stand tall and be seen. And we can really make the most of our midlife and into our older years with a whole lot more freedom and a whole lot more power.
So I hope that that has been helpful to you. I have more videos coming. This was just the first, if you have any questions at any point in time, please reach out to me. I look forward to chatting to you again soon.