Confused about peri, post, and menopausal symptoms? Even some of the more reputable medical websites and possibly your own doctor may co-mingle them. The one true menopause symptom is a 12-month dearth of periods. Read our other post about What is menopause, exactly?
Most women experience the most intense symptoms during perimenopause, the period when your hormones are fluctuating and gradually diminishing. Hot flashes, brain fog or forgetfulness, moodiness, sleeplessness, headaches, irregular periods, usually begin in perimenopause and may continue into post-menopause.
True menopause symptoms mean no more periods – no more tampons, no more PMS – save on Midol! And it’s almost impossible to get pregnant since your ovaries no longer release eggs. (Maybe the Easter Bunny took them.) But beware – until you haven’t had a period for 12 months in a row, there’s that rare possibility that you could get pregnant, so don’t throw out your birth control prescription just yet.
After a year of total freedom, you are in postmenopause. And although you may miss synching with the moon or your girlfriends, give it time. It’s incredibly liberating! Your ovaries continue to make small amounts of estrogen and progesterone after menopause, but the levels are very low. With the loss of hormones you get lovely wrinkles, even sags above your knees that no amount of exercise will help. But you earned every one of them! If you can’t live with that thought, then face lifts, laser treatments, Botox, or injections taken from your butt to fill in the other cracks on your body might work. It’s up to you what you do about it.
Osteoporosis, or loss of bone density, can come with the loss of hormones. It’s really a postmenopausal symptom. Exercise is the best preventative of osteoporosis, so get moving. And here’s a weird one…dentists say that the medication for preventing osteoporosis can cause “jawbone death” or osteonecrosis. You can learn more about this problem here from the American Dental Association.
You might get or need less sleep at night. There’s this standard joke about starting a chat room for peri, post and menopausal women that is only active from 4-5AM each night. Get a good sleep mask to cover your eyes. It really helps. And daytime napping is no longer just for your dog.
Although some menopausal women lose their libido, others experience a feeling of sexual freedom and awakening that comes with the inability to get pregnant. Whoo-hoo! Lubrication becomes necessary because we don’t produce it ourselves any longer.
Big Change Ahead
This change of life can be a purifier – you may lose some friends, but the ones that stick will be your friends for life. You might make some big changes like a big move or getting divorced. It might be the first time in your life you put yourself first.
After my periods ended, and I flipped into postmenopause, I felt so much better. My hot flashes eased along with many other perimenopausal symptoms. The fatigue went away and my energy level soared. My ability to concentrate returned. A sense of contentment and self-worth replaced my moody, hormonal prior self. Menopause is fantastic! At least, it is for me. We know that every person experiences this differently so we’d love to hear about your experiences, too.
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