It can be confusing, right? If you’re between the ages of 42 – 55, you may well be in some stage of it. Because it’s such a prolonged process of change, it’s often challenging to know what’s a normal part of the aging process, and what signifies imbalance.
And along with the changing hormonal milieu, the rest of your body and spirit may be screaming out for a makeover as well. Have you been listening?
Emotionally speaking, Perimenopause is when we need to reevaluate our priorities, come to terms with unfinished business, and let go off of what is no longer serving us.
Because spiritually speaking, this is also the time that track is being laid down for the next phase of our journey as women, into the gateway of a new reality.
O.K, but back to the clinical side of things, here’s one definition that I came across from the Mayo Clinic website:
“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.”
This definition isn’t too bad, as medical definitions go (it’s just the term, ‘permanent infertility’ that sounds so damning, as though nothing can ever grow in our lives again). But my biggest problem with the definition is that it says nothing about what a woman can expect to feel; in her body, in her sense of self, in her emotions, and about what this transition might open up for her internally.
Perimenopause is the time “around menopause” or leading up to menopause, when we often experience a particular constellation of physical symptoms related to transitioning hormones, that will ultimately result in the cessation of the menstrual cycle, and the end of our potential to make babies. But what does it look like? What can we expect?
Here’s an example of what one woman’s perimenopausal journey looked like (uh, let’s call her Carla…)
At age 43, she began to notice a new quality to her skin – it took on a thicker texture, the pores enlarged. Her hair started to thin in places and she lost whole chunks of eyelashes (was this just normal aging?!?) She struggled with emotional issues related to having a 2nd child, her waning fertility and the grief that this produced. She started having a lot of trouble with sleep and waking in the middle of the night. It was also at this time that she started having erratic bouts of joint pain all over her body.
And yet, all of the blood work came back normal. The doctor said, “all looks well.”
ALL WAS NOT WELL!
A couple of years later, her periods became unusually heavy, even though there was nothing found on pelvic ultrasound, no fibroids nor polyp. Again the doctor said, “No problems.”
Finally, a few years after this, she started to wake up in the morning with heart palpitations, sweats and anxiety.
Is this normal? Is this what is to be expected in mid-life, in perimenopause?
YES AND NO.
YES, in that these types of symptoms are very common.
NO, in that it doesn’t need to be this way! And taking steps to correct these imbalances will provide protection from more serious health conditions that may be brewing.
The symptoms that I’ve described were actually important clues, trying to grab me by the shoulders, to wake me up and get me to pay attention to changes that needed to be made in my life, and in my physical and emotional wellbeing. Every step along the way, my body and spirit were sending me important signals about my physical, emotional and spiritual health. But my life was so very busy with family, a career, and always striving to improve my situation and take care of everyone else. This left very little time to care for myself.
Perimenopause is a very important time to correct the underlying hormonal imbalance that you have been tolerating. This might manifest in worsening PMS, irregular cycles, blood sugar abnormalities, fatigue, cold intolerance, joint pain, decreased libido, etc. Emotionally, it’s the time to let go of years of grief or rage or confusion – whatever feels stuck and painful. And lastly, it’s the time to commit to what you feel most passionate about, and embrace your purpose in the world fully.
My wish is that this time of life will be easier for you than it was for me. That’s why my blog posts for the next few weeks will be on the topic of Perimenopause, and how to navigate it with Wisdom and Grace. I want to help you to hear and interpret your inner wisdom, and the messages that your body and emotions are sending your way. So stay tuned! There’s so much more on this topic that I’m excited to share.
However, if you have burning questions now, please feel free to send me an email at carla@
I answer every email I receive!