PERILS OF PERIMENOPAUSE IN PORTUGAL
This post is not really Portugal related but something I feel I need to have a rant about. Not a post for the male readers unless you feel brave or have a wife or lady friend who is going through the same problem. I visited my GP in the UK about 12 months ago and explained some symptoms and told her that that I think I might be perimenopausal. My lovely GP sent me for blood tests which came back as normal. I really need to go back for a further blood test but this will have to wait for now. I pretty much know I am perimenopausal as I have so many symptoms. I hate having hormonal difficulties as I already have an under active thyroid which makes me extremely fatigued. Symptoms of the Perimenopause can vary a lot from person to person but these are some of the symptoms I have been experiencing over the past 12 months:
Menstrual irregularity – I was usually really regular every 30 days but slowly my periods have got closer and closer so now every 21 days.
Spotting followed by heavy menstruation.
Hot flashes – waking up in the middle of the night completely covered in sweat to the point where I have to change P.J’s and bedding. Trying to change a bed with hubby asleep is impossible. It’s like that tablecloth challenge magic trick when you try and whip off the tablecloth without disturbing the plates – impossible.
Tender breasts – sounds like a recipe for a chicken casserole! (ha ha). Jokes aside this bloody hurts like hell.
Vagina dryness – not gonna elaborate, you might be eating. Spent a week treating for Thrush but it wasn’t thrush. Send hubby to pharmacy for thrush cream but he thought I said fresh cream – honest truth! I’ve heard natural yoghurt can help, not toffee muller lights but fresh cream, I doubt it.
Thinning hair – on my head not lady garden, that’s still a Kate Bush (ha ha).
As you go through the menopausal transition, your bodies production of estrogen and progesterone rises and falls. Many of the changes you experience during perimenopause are a result of decreasing estrogen. Perimenopause lasts up to the Menopause – the point when the ovaries stop releasing eggs and your periods stop. The best bit is yet to come – apparently the length of Perimenopause can be 4 – 10 years! I could have a whole freaking decade of this!!!!!!!!
Apparently leading a healthy lifestyle can help with a number of the hormonal changes:
- Quit smoking if you smoke cigarettes – I don’t.
- Exercise regularly – I will try.
- Eat more protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and calcium – not a problem.
- Limit saturated fats, highly refined carbs, and sugar – a slight problem but I will try.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol – WTF
- So basically, give up everything that brings you joy in this current lock down.
This is all sensible advice but when you have severe abdominal cramps that last 24/7 for 3 solid days before your period begins it is very difficult to scrape yourself off of the floor or out of your bed to take any form of exercise. I find chocolate helps! Even strong cocodamol do not help with the pain anymore. If pain level is 10/10, 2 cocodamols will take the pain down to 8/10 and make me feel nauseas and dizzy. The codeine also makes me more constipated so doesn’t help with my IBS. So the dilemma is do I want to feel absolute pain that I can’t get out of bed or moderate-high pain where I can get out of bed but feel nauseous, dizzy and constipated all the time.
For me I think the most annoying factor is rather than a normal heavy period disrupting 5-7 days of my life per month, I now only have 2 weeks of every month where I feel normal. After a period I’m fine for 2 weeks, then I have a week of symptoms, pain and spotting followed by a week of the actual period, then the cycle restarts. So 2 weeks O.K followed by 2 weeks of feeling not O.K which is frustrating.
I have no fool proof answers ladies or pearls of wisdom. I definitely don’t want to take any medication or drugs which all have side effects. I’m a qualified Holistic Therapist and have tried several aromatherapy blends in a bath and abdominal massages which help a little. Reiki is also soothing and I practice these techniques on myself most mornings before I even get out of bed. I suppose it’s just one of the joys of being a female. A long walk in the countryside listening to nature or even a 5K jog does help with the abdominal cramps but you have to be on a pain threshold of 6/10 to be able to actually summon up the energy to go on the jog in the first place! A hot water water helps me and the pharmacy did give hubby a few weird looks when he tried to buy a hot water bottle in the middle of April in Portugal. They just stared for a long time and shook their head.
On a final note – When I’m in absolute pain and thoughts go through my mind like I can’t do this anymore, I try to think of how amazing the human body is. I remember studying the human body as one of the modules for my holistic therapy qualification and also trying to help my daughter through her A Level Biology – I was no help! It fascinates me how complex the human body and systems are. I try to tell myself that my ‘lady bits’ mainly ovaries and womb have done their job and produced 2 beautiful, kind, intelligent children and without ovaries producing eggs and the pain that comes with being a woman, I would not have my little darlings – well not so little anymore! I also have a super husband who does what he is told and if I tell him “Don’t buy me chocolate, even if I ask for it” then I’m craving sugar like mad and I say “Wheres the chocolate?” he will go out and buy me some with a minutes notice, bless him. Although in current times and living in the middle of a tiny rural village with no shop that means him driving to the local petrol station which is not good as we are trying to stay home and safe. So we have resulted in buying in lots of ingredients for pancakes and he is a master chef of the animal themed shaped pancakes, which always cheer me up.
May 2022 Update
I thought I should write a little update. I did manage to source Black Cohosh and started on a low dosage. I was hoping it would help with my night sweats but it gave me the most horrendous abdominal cramps to the point where I was laying on the floor in a ball. I missed my first period in January 2022 and then again in Feb, March and April. Apparently this is very rare as periods usually decrease in frequency and you miss the odd one but mine just stopped abruptly as I entered 2022. I think god was looking down on me, I haven’t had a period now at all in 2022 and it’s now May. I still occasionally get the night sweats but they are very infrequent. My breast tenderness has gone but I still often have brain fog but I’m not sure how much of this is Menopause and just a sign of not having a regular day to day job to stimulate me or it could just be a sign of getting old (ha ha). My moods are much better but I still have Insomnia. I always had trouble sleeping even pre menopause. So all in all I’m feeling much better and saying goodbye to my monthly period and sanitary purchases has been fantastic yet a little emotional. I keep thinking I will still get one next month but it’s been 5 months now so hopefully they are gone forever and ever AMEN! Sometimes you just need to ride out the journey in life, accept the changes to your body and embrace the highs, lows and hormonal shifts. See ya PERIODS – YIPPEE!