Are you awake at 3AM? Forgetting the names of your own children? Suddenly losing your keys, your temper and your mind? Did you recently become a member of the sisterhood of the shrinking pants? Would you rather mop your kitchen floor than slip into bed with your lover? Has your vagina suddenly packed up and gone to the Sahara desert? It turns out that perimenopause and menopause isn't just the cessation of a bodily function. No, an alien did not come down and infiltrate your body…you most likely are experiencing some of the myriad of perimenopause and menopause symptoms.There is help! Jump aboard our 5-step program to hormone happiness. The first step is to open up and reach out so that you can take action! Next is Step 2: Find a Menopause Specialist. This week, we are going to help you prepare for your doctor's appointment with Step 3: Chart Your Menopause Symptoms. Charting is easy and will ensure that you are able to communicate exactly how you are feeling to your menopause specialist. So, grab your boat shoes; here we go!
Each woman's experience is determined by her unique physiology. There is no one size fits all journey. My first major symptom was memory loss, and I had no idea this was a symptom of perimenopause. I was scared and afraid that I was in the early stages of Alzheimer's! Why the big cover up? Let's bust open the conversation and sound the alarm for others to start thinking inside the box!
Here is a list of some of symptoms that you may experience along your perimenopause and menopause journey:
- Memory lapse (sticky notes aplenty)
- Overly sensitive
- Uncontrollable crying
- Unusually depressed and withdrawn
- Overall sense that I'm not ok
- Tense (like a rubber band ready to snap)
- Bursts of anger
- Low sex drive
- Oddly dry skin
- Hair loss
- PMS-like bloating
- Sore or ballooning breasts
- Increased chin whiskers
- Deepening voice
- Pimples galore
- Hot flashes or flushes
- Night drenches
- Sleepless nights
- Heart palpitations
- Weight gain (shrinking pants)
- Stiffness, aches, and pains
- Bladder issues
- Vaginal infections
- Excessive vaginal discharge
- Breakthrough vaginal bleeding
- Vaginal dryness
- Harder to reach orgasm
I found it helpful to chart my symptoms at the same time each day. For me, this was right before I went to bed. You should chart the frequency and nature of your periods and the type and severity of the symptoms you are experiencing. Be sure to be honest. There is no right or wrong answer. It is important to chart your symptoms daily because you may not remember the details of your symptoms a day or two later. This creates an accurate report that you and your doctor will use in combination with the tests your doctor will run (tune in next week for Step 4: Menopause and Testing). You and your doctor have to marry test results with how you feel each day to complete a thorough evaluation of your health and to choose an appropriate treatment strategy. If your doctor isn't interested in reviewing your symptoms chart, you haven't found the right doctor.
If you've reached this step in your journey, you are well on your way to finding hormone happiness! Congratulations! You are taking the steps that will lead you from being "fine" to true health, well-being, and happiness.
Remember: Reaching out is IN! Suffering in silence is OUT!
Tell me: Where are you in your menopause journey? Are you taking the steps necessary to take care of yourself?
It's all about how you feel.
- Menopause: The Basics, from womenshealth.gov.
- Managing Your Body's Changes from The Hormone Foundation.
- Women and Menopause fact sheet from the International Menopause Society.