Archive for the ‘perimenopause’ Tag

Acupuncture in menopause (AIM) study   Leave a comment

Menopause, 05/27/2016

The aim of the study was to evaluate the short and long–term effects of acupuncture on vasomotor symptoms (VMS) and quality of life–related measures. The authors found that a course of acupuncture treatments was associated with significant reduction in VMS, and several quality–of–life measures, compared with no acupuncture, and that clinical benefit persisted for at least 6 months beyond the end of treatment.

Methods

  • A total of 209 perimenopausal and postmenopausal women aged 45 to 60 years, experiencing four or more VMS per day, were recruited from the community and randomized to receive up to 20 acupuncture treatments within the first 6 months (acupuncture group) or the second 6 months (waitlist control group) of the 12–month study period.
  • The primary outcome was mean daily frequency of VMS.
  • Secondary outcomes were VMS interference with daily life, sleep quality, depressive symptoms, somatic and other symptoms, anxiety, and quality of life.

Results

  • The VMS frequency declined by 36.7% at 6 months in the acupuncture group and increased by 6.0% in the control group (P < 0.001 for between–group comparison).
  • At 12 months, the reduction from baseline in the acupuncture group was 29.4% (P < 0.001 for within–group comparison from baseline to 12 months), suggesting that the reduction was largely maintained after treatment.
  • Statistically significant clinical improvement was observed after three acupuncture treatments, and maximal clinical effects occurred after a median of eight treatments.
  • Persistent improvements were seen in many quality of life–related outcomes in the acupuncture group relative to the control group.
 Read more at http://www.mdlinx.com/nurse-practitioner/medical-news-article/2016/05/27/menopause/6682615/?news_id=578&newsdt=052716&utm_source=DailyNL&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_content=General-Article&utm_campaign=article-section&category=latest&page_id=1

Posted May 27, 2016 by MaryO in From Elsewhere

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10 Ways Perimenopause Is Destroying My Life   3 comments

welcome

 

From 10 Ways Perimenopause Is Destroying My Life – The Mid.

1. My Period Is Trying to Kill Me

For years, I enjoyed a regular and uneventful menstrual cycle. Now, I never know when I’m going to get my period. It could be in the next six weeks causing a panicked pregnancy scare, or it could decide to come every two weeks (and always when I’m not expecting it at all, and wearing white pants). How long it will last is also a mystery. Once, I had my period for two days, and another time it lasted a full 12. Cramps, heavy bleeding—I’ve got all that in perimenopause. Last month, I passed something that resembled a London broil. It was as if my entire uterus was trying to escape through my vagina. I don’t like this. I want the boring periods I experienced in my 20s back.

2. I Can’t Sleep

Every day I tell myself that this will be the night that I will go to bed at a decent hour and get a full night’s sleep, but it never happens. My sleep patterns now resemble a newborn’s. I’m up every two hours. I’m hungry, I have to pee, I’m bored. I’ll toss and turn for hours each night, praying that my mind will shut off and let me go to sleep, but nope. Naturally, because of this, I’m exhausted all day long and have to drink a ton of coffee to stay awake. To further torture me, in the past year, my body has decided it doesn’t want to metabolize caffeine like it once used to. I’ve morphed into a hybrid of Lady Macbeth and Cornholio. If you ever see me furiously Irish step-dancing through the aisles of Walmart, I swear it’s not meth. I just had a cup of coffee, because I was tired, because I can’t sleep at night, because of perimenopause. Save me, please.

3. Unexplained Weight Gain

No, I’m not pregnant. I’m just cruelly bloated. They make mom jeans for women like me. Once a sworn enemy, elastic is now my greatest ally. I swear, I haven’t changed my diet at all. If anything, I eat healthier now than ever, but my metabolism is nonexistent these days. I used to be able to rip through nachos, Twix bars and Slurpees, and remain a size four, but now a single Cheeto will force me into a higher dress size.

4. My Body Is Growing Weird Hairs

I hate my teenage self who used to wonder why older ladies always had wiry hair on their chins. Now I know. It’s because those hairs can randomly sprout three inches in about two seconds. And also because we are so old that we can’t even see black whiskers shooting out of our faces. Yes, I’ve accepted it, I’m either turning into Witch Hazel from Looney Tunes, or a walrus.

5. I Pee When I Sneeze

And when I cough, laugh, or jump up and down. I’m an old house—quaint and charming on the outside, but my plumbing system is a leaky nightmare.

6. Mood Swings

PMS is apparently having its last hurrah with me and is determined to go out with a bang. Irritable doesn’t begin to describe it. Little things set me off: going to IKEA, wanting tortilla chips but being out of them, if my daughter whines because, God forbid, I gave her the wrong plate at lunch, and when my clock ticks too loudly in the middle of the night. It’s awful. Whenever I see a woman on the news who’s had a road rage incident, I sigh knowingly and say that I bet she’s in perimenopause. Sometimes I have fantasies of getting a job at an amusement park haunted house just so I can chase people around with a chainsaw, because most of the time, that’s what I feel like doing anyway. I may as well get paid for it, right?

7. My Skin Is Freaking Me Out

I’m so dry and wrinkly that I think my vagina has cobwebs. I recently read somewhere that during perimenopause “breast tissue may reduce.” Great. That thing sputtering around the room? Not a deflating balloon. That’s my left boob. The skin on my arms and chest is so crepe-y that you could make streamers out of me. Yay! I love looking like a beige party decoration. I found an age spot on my hand the other day, and I also heard that you can get age spots on your nether regions, which is fabulous because I always wanted my crotch to look like a Chinese crested puppy. Said no woman ever.

8. I Can’t Remember Anything

What was I saying? You know that feeling when you’re trying to remember something, and it’s right on the tip of your tongue? That’s me 24/7 these days. They call this brain fog, and I feel like I’ve reached my brain’s natural storage capacity and now it’s malfunctioning from overload. I need an external hard drive for my mind. The number of times in a day when I find myself standing in the middle of a room and have no idea how I got there or what I’m supposed to be doing is staggering. Every time I open an app on my phone, I forget what I meant to look up, log or check. I’ve officially turned into the guy from Memento and am going to have to start writing notes on my skin to piece together my life.

9. Everything Makes Me Cry

Last week, I cried because I saw a high school marching band coming down the street playing Stevie Wonder. I cried at a puppet show, from watching children ride a carousel and over the grand finale of a fireworks display. Forget Idina Menzel. Before she even opens her mouth to sing, I’m weeping uncontrollably.

10. I’m HotNO, I’m Freezing

My internal temperature gauge has gone haywire. I wear cardigans in the summer, and bathing suits in the snow. Nothing makes sense anymore.

But that’s the nature of perimenopause—everything is different, it’s confusing, and most women don’t know what to expect. Now that I know I’m not insane, that this stuff is pretty normal, and that I’m not dying from a terrible illness that causes insomnia, vaginal dryness and ugly boobs, I can usually laugh off my symptoms. When I’m not hysterically sobbing, that is. Perimenopause is a sucky part of life, like puberty was, and when it’s over, the very second my last period ends, I’m throwing a huge party. Or, more than likely, just going to bed.

 

From Gracie62   Leave a comment

“This site has literally saved my sanity and restored by sense of well-being while in the throes of perimenopause. I can’t imagine life without it as I log in everyday for a dose of comfort from these amazing women.

Dearest was an incredible woman and a pioneer in extending global help and support to millions of women.

Without her, many of us would be alone, afraid and left to face menopause without a clue as to how to get through it. May she rest in peace.”

Posted October 5, 2013 by MaryO in In Memory

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Menopause and Migraine Headache, What are they and how can they be treated?   Leave a comment

MIGRAINE HEADACHE

What is it?

A common symptom of perimenopause is increased headaches and often debilitating migraines.

A migraine headache is a recurrent, throbbing headache generally felt on one side of the head. Migraines usually begin in early childhood, adolescence, or young adult life.

What causes it?

Migraines are caused by a rapid widening and narrowing of blood vessel walls in the brain and head. This causes the pain fibers in the blood vessel wall to become irritated. Blood vessels in the scalp are often involved. The following items and events (precipitants) have been reported to cause migraine attacks:

  • Hunger
  • Cheese
  • Changes in weather
  • Nuts
  • Fatigue
  • Avocados
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Chocolate
  • Menstrual periods
  • Menopause
  • Foods cured with nitrates (e.g., hot dogs)
  • Emotional stress
  • Meat tenderizers (e.g., MSG)
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • It is not known why some individuals have migraines and others do not.

What are its common symptoms?

There are many forms of migraine headaches. The classic migraine and the common migraine are the two main types:

CLASSIC MIGRAINES — There is usually a warning (aura or prodrome) of an approaching headache attack. Eyesight may suddenly change. Bright spots or zigzag lines are seen. Many people experience double vision or temporary, partial blindness. The change in eyesight is often followed by numbness and tingling of the lips, face, hands (on one or both sides), weakness of an arm or leg, dizziness, unsteadiness in walking, drowsiness, slight confusion of thinking, and inability to speak or slurred speech. Any given person may have only one or a few of these symptoms, and they tend to occur in the same combination in each attack. The symptoms may last for 5 to 15 minutes or more. As these symptoms disappear, a throbbing headache begins on one side of the head. The severity of the headache builds. Once the headache becomes very painful, people often have nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise.

COMMON MIGRAINES — A throbbing headache begins suddenly without warning of an attack. The location of the headache varies. The pain may be on both sides of the head, or it may shift from side to side. Nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise usually accompany the headache. Children who have migraines experience mostly common migraines and, therefore, do not have any warning. In addition to the headache, some children experience abdominal pain, which gets better after vomiting.

Is it contagious?

No.

How long will it last?

Migraines can last from a few hours up to several days.

How is it treated?

Treatment for this problem consists of two important parts:

  1. What you can do, and
  2. What your health care provider can do.

What can you do?

There are many measures you can try to reduce the pain :

  1. Some people find relief by applying heat to the area of the head where the pain is most severe. Apply heat in the form of a dry towel warmed in the oven or use a heating pad set on a low setting. Other people gain relief by applying an ice bag wrapped in a towel to the painful area.
  2. Lying down in a dark, quiet room at the first sign of an attack may also decrease the pain.
  3. Many people find a relaxation technique helpful when they are lying down.
    Concentrate on a soothing thought or image and take slow, deep breaths.
  4. Dearest Recommendations: Try breathing into a small paper bag when in the throes of a migraine, or when you feel one coming on. The paper bag cuts down on the oxygen (organ stimulant), and increases the carbon dioxide intake during inhalation (organ relaxant). Inhale/Exhale for about 30 seconds to one minute. It has served me well during severe headaches/migraines, as well as during anxiety ridden moments – such as holiday shoppingAnother recommendation for treating migraines is to take 500 mg. of magnesium at the first onset of a migraine.
  5. Record on a calendar the date of the migraine, the time it started and ended, and the amount of medication you took. Remember to bring this record with you on follow-up visits to your health care provider. It will help in your treatment.

What can your health care provider do?

Medications are needed by some individuals. Your health care provider may prescribe one or more of the following medications.

  • Analgesics — These medications reduce the pain of a migraine.
  • Ergotamine preparations — These medications interfere with the widening of the blood vessels in the head and decrease the pain of migraines. Note: To enable your body to use most of the medication, it is important to take the medicine at the first sign of an attack. Special arrangements are necessary for school-age children to allow them to take the needed medicine in school.
  • Other medications — Biofeedback is another method being used successfully by some people to reduce migraine attacks and their severity. Your health care provider may refer you to a specialist in biofeedback therapy.

Can you prevent it?

Because migraine headaches may recur for years and constant use of medication can lead to serious side effects, prevention is a key aspect in the management of migraines:

  1. Pay close attention to your diet. See if a migraine can be prevented by avoiding certain foods (e.g., nuts, cheese, avocados, chocolate, bacon, ham, hot dogs, cold cuts) and tenderizers used in food preparation. If hunger precipitates a migraine, eat frequent small meals on a regular basis. Women who have migraines just prior to their menstrual period should lower the salt in their diet. This helps to decrease water retention associated with precipitating attacks. Avoid alcoholic beverages. Alcohol causes the blood vessels in the body to widen, which contributes to the pain of migraines.
  2. If stress or emotional conflict triggers the onset of a migraine, it is important to find ways to reduce the stress in your life. Regular exercise (e.g., walking, biking, swimming) and relaxation techniques (e.g., yoga, meditation) may help you. Exercise and relaxation not only reduce stress but, in addition, decrease the severity of the pain and frequency of the headaches. A trained counselor can be helpful in providing assistance to identify stresses in your life and to make suggestions to resolve the problems.
  3. A regular schedule for sleep is necessary if fatigue precipitates attacks.
  4. Fatigue may become exaggerated at times of weather change.
  5. Women with a history of migraine headaches should avoid oral contraceptives. Your health care provider can suggest alternative forms of birth control.

Common myths

It is a myth that only women get migraines. Men do suffer from migraine headaches. However, migraines occur in women about four times as often as in men. It is also a myth that all bad headaches are migraines. There are many causes for headaches. A tension headache can be as painful as a migraine. People who have head pain should have a medical evaluation.

Follow-up

It is important to return for your follow-up care as advised.

Resources

Call your local community center, YMHA, YWCA, or adult education program for information about classes in yoga, meditation, aerobic dance, or other exercise classes. A community mental health center can assist in an evaluation for stress and make a referral to a counselor for you.

Remember…..Notify your health care provider if you have any of the following:

  • Headaches that last longer than 2 days
  • More than 3 migraine attacks in 1 month
  • Warning symptoms of a headache that do not disappear when the headache begins
  • Marked change in the severity of the headache
  • Questions concerning the symptoms you are experiencing

Reference:

  1. Shamansky, S., Cecere, M. C., & Shellenberger, E. (1984). Primary Health
  2. Care Handbook: Guidelines for Patient Education. Boston: Little, Brown & Co.
  3. This information has been provided to you via Med Help International (a non-profit organization).

Posted October 5, 2013 by MaryO in Educate Yourself

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An Introduction to Menopause and Perimenopause: Signs, Symptoms and Treatments   2 comments

MaryO’Note: Some of these links have been removed.


What is Menopause and Perimenopause?

Menopause is defined as the cessation of menstruation as a result of the normal decline in ovarian function. Technically, you enter menopause following 12 consecutive months without a period. Menopause has become increasingly medicalized, which means it is viewed as something that requires intervention and treatment rather than as a natural life transition that may benefit from support. Menopause signals the end of fertility and the beginning of a new and potentially rewarding time in a woman’s life. Part of the stigma of menopause is its association with aging, but we age no more rapidly in our 50s than in any other decade of life.

When Does Menopause Happen?

For most women, natural menopause occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, with the average age of onset being 51.4 years of age. In rare instances, menopause can occur as early as the 30’s or as late as the 60’s. Menopause is considered premature if it occurs before the age of 40, or artificial if radiation exposure, chemotherapeutic drugs, or surgery induces it. Other factors that may contribute to the early onset of menopause include a history of smoking, poor nutrition, a co-existing medical condition, or even a traumatic experience.

Until a woman is technically considered menopausal (aka postmenopausal), she’s considered to be premenopausal, also referred to as perimenopause. It’s during the perimenopausal phase that most women experience the worst symptoms.

Menopause (or postmenopause) occurs when a woman hasn’t had her period for 12 consecutive months. Once hormones have levelled off, most of the symptoms experienced during perimenopause will disappear — although some women have occasional hot flashes, anxiety, bouts of depression, et al, for a few years after they become postmenopausal.

The Physiology of Menopause

To best understand what occurs at menopause, it is helpful to know about the physiology of menstruation and the hormones that are involved in our monthly cycle. Hormones are substances in our bodies that act like messengers. They travel throughout the body and can bind to specialized areas of cells known as receptor sites, where they then initiate a specific chain of events. The first half of the menstrual cycle is dominated by estrogen, whose role is to build the lining of the uterus in preparation for a potential pregnancy. At approximately day 14 of the cycle, or two weeks prior to menstruation, an egg is released from the ovaries. This is referred to as ovulation.

As a result of ovulation the ovary begins producing progesterone. It is during this second half of the cycle that progesterone is dominant. Progesterone’s role is to change the character of the uterine lining to prepare for pregnancy, and to prevent further buildup of the lining by estrogen. At the end of the cycle, if the egg is not fertilized, estrogen and progesterone levels drop, causing a sloughing of the uterine lining, or menstruation. The body goes through this cycle every month to ensure a fresh uterine lining in preparation for a potential pregnancy.

If a woman fails to ovulate, however, she does not produce progesterone, and this may result in the experience of symptoms of hormonal imbalance. Women are born with a finite number of eggs that eventually runs out. At birth, a woman has close to a million eggs, by puberty a mere 300,000. In the 10 to 15 years prior to menopause, this loss begins to accelerate. Perimenopause is the term used to describe the time of transition between a woman’s reproductive years and when menstruation ceases completely. Typically perimenopause occurs between the ages of 40 and 51 and may last anywhere from six months to ten years. During this time, hormone levels naturally fluctuate and decline, but they do not necessarily do so in an orderly manner. Shifts in hormones are a major contributor to that sense of physical, mental, and emotional imbalance that may characterize a woman’s experience of menopause.

Eventually estrogen levels decrease to the point that the lining of the uterus no longer builds up and menstruation ceases. This is menopause. After menopause, estrogen levels off at approximately 40 to 60% of its premenopausal levels and progesterone falls close to zero. Although there are similarities in what happens hormonally, each woman’s experience can be very different. Genetics may play a role in the timing, but lifestyle can certainly influence a woman’s experience of menopause. Many women find that the right combination of herbs, exercise, nutritional support, and natural hormones helps them to manage most of their symptoms. Others find they may need some medical intervention and pharmaceutical agents. This site will help guide you in making the decisions that best support your individual needs.

How long does perimenopause last?

It varies. Women normally go through menopause between ages 45 and 55. Many women experience menopause around age 51. However, perimenopause can start as early as age 35. It can last a few months to quite a few years. There is no way to tell in advance how long it will last OR how long it will take you to go through it. Every woman is different.

I’ve been depressed in the past. Will this affect when I start going through perimenopause?

It could. Researchers are studying how depression in a woman’s life affects the time she starts perimenopause. If you start perimenopause early, researchers don’t know if you reach menopause faster than other women or if you’re just in perimenopause longer.

What should I expect as I go through perimenopause?

The 34 Signs/Symptoms of Menopause.

Some women have symptoms during this time that can be very difficult. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Changes in your menstrual cycle – i.e., longer or shorter periods, heavier or lighter periods, or missed periods
  • Hot flashes (power surges — sudden rush of heat from your chest to your head)
  • Palpitations, skipped heartbeats
  • Internal shaking / tremor-like feelings
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Dry skin and skin changes
  • Itching
  • Formication (feeling like ants are crawling on your body)
  • Insomnia and other sleep disturbances
  • Mood swings
  • Allergies, sinus problems
  • Wheezing, respiratory problems, coughing
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Crying for no apparent reason
  • General irritability and/or anger
  • Hair thinning or loss
  • Pain during sex
  • More urinary infections
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Decreased or non-existent libido
  • Increase in body fat, especially around your waist
  • Forgetfulness, brain fog, problems with concentration and memory

Additional Reading: The 34 Signs/Symptoms of Menopause.

There are numerous articles addressing all of these issues and more in Power Surge’s ‘Educate Your Body’ Library.

Excellent suggestions for coping with menopause in Power Surge’s Menopause Survival Tips

I don’t understand why I get hot flashes. Could you tell me what’s going on with my body?

Read What’s A Hot Flash? We don’t know exactly what causes hot flashes.
It could be a drop in estrogen or change in another hormone. This affects the part of your brain that regulates your body temperature. During a hot flash, you feel a sudden rush of heat move from your chest to your head. Your skin may turn red, and you may sweat. Hot flashes are sometimes brought on by things like hot weather, eating hot or spicy foods, or drinking alcohol or caffeine. Try to avoid these things if you find they trigger the hot flashes.

I feel so emotional. Is this due to changes in my hormones?

Your mood changes could be caused by a lot of factors. Some researchers believe that the decrease in estrogen triggers changes in your brain causing depression. Others think that if you’re depressed, irritable, and anxious, it’s influenced by menopausal symptoms you’re having, such as sleep problems, hot flashes, night sweats, and fatigue, and/or by issues you’re dealing with that aren’t strictly related to hormonal changes. It could also be a combination of hormone changes and symptoms. Remember, menopause doesn’t happen in a vacuum. All the issues you came into menopause with are only exacerbated by your changes.

Menopause doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s part of the bigger transition of “aging.” Other things that could cause depression and/or anxiety include:

  • Having depression during your lifetime
  • Feeling negative about menopause and getting older
  • Increased stress (look at the world we’re living in)
  • Having severe menopause symptoms
  • Children growing up and leaving home – empty nest syndrome
  • Smoking
  • Being sedentary – not being physically active
  • Not being happy in your relationship or not being in a relationship
  • Not having a job, or being unhappy in your current job
  • Continuing working during a difficult menopause
  • An unfulfilling marriage / marital problems
  • Financial problems
  • Low self-esteem (how you feel about yourself)
  • Not having the social support you need
  • Feeling isolated
  • Not having anyone to talk to (Use our message boards)
  • Regretful that you can’t have children anymore

What can I do to prevent or relieve symptoms of perimenopause?

  • Read the Power Surge Recommendations for treating various menopause symptoms.
  • Read Power Surge’s Menopause Survival Tips
  • Keep a journal for a few months and write down your symptoms, like hot flashes, night sweats, and mood changes. That can help you figure out the changes you’re going through
  • Record your menstrual cycle, noting whether you have a heavy, normal, or light period
  • Find a physical activity that you’ll enjoy doing
  • If you smoke, try to quit. There are areas, such as A Breath of Fresh Air! for help.
  • Keep your body mass index (BMI) at a normal level. Figure out your BMI by going to www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/bmicalc.htm
  • Network with other women who are in perimenopause or menopause. Most likely, they’re going through the same things you are!
  • Do something new: start a new hobby, do volunteer work, take a class
  • Learn meditation and breathing exercises for relaxation
  • Use a vaginal lubricant for dryness and pain during sex Read the article on Midlife Sexuality / Vaginal Dryness for more information.
  • Dress in lighter layers (preferably cotton), so if a hot flash comes on, you can peel away the top layer (without getting arrested!)
  • Try to figure out (and avoid) those triggers that may cause hot flashes, such as spicy foods, caffeine, or being outside in the heat.
  • Talk with your health care practitioner if you feel depressed, or have any other questions about how to relieve your symptoms
  • Educate yourself about what tests you need when entering perimenopause. Oftentimes, doctors won’t prescribe them unless YOU ASK for them!
  • An excellent resource for your questions about menopause — < Ask Power Surge’s Experts!

I’m going through perimenopause right now. My period is very heavy, and I’m bleeding after sex. Is this normal?

Irregular periods are common and normal during perimenopause, but not all changes in bleeding are from perimenopause or menopause. Other things can cause abnormal bleeding.

Talk to your health care provider if:

  • The bleeding is very heavy or comes with clots (although clotting isn’t uncommon during perimenopause)
  • The bleeding lasts longer than 7 days
  • You have spotting or bleeding between periods
  • You’re bleeding from the vagina after sex
  • Can I get pregnant while in perimenopause? Yes. If you’re still having periods, you can get pregnant. Talk to your health care provider about your options for birth control. Keep in mind that methods of birth control, like birth control pills, shots, implants, or diaphragms will not protect you from STDs or HIV. If you use one of these methods, be sure to also use a latex condom or dental dam (used for oral sex) correctly every time you have sexual contact. Be aware that condoms don’t provide complete protection against STDs and HIV. The only sure protection is abstinence (not having sex of any kind). But appropriate and consistent use of latex condoms and other barrier methods can help protect you from STDs.For women under 50, it is recommended that you continue some form of birth control even after your period has stopped for one year (24 consecutive months). For women over 50, it is recommended that birth control be practiced for one year after entering menopause.For perimenopausal women, it is essential that you continue some form of birth control while your periods are erratic — even if you’ve been without a period for six or seven months — you can still get pregnant. For women whose periods have stopped for twelve consecutive months, it is still recommended that you practice some form of birth control for approximately one year after entering menopause.

By Dearest, Founder of Power Surge   14 comments

alice-avatar“I repeat over and over on the site that any complaints a woman has during menopause should not automatically be attributed to the process of menopause. That’s an important disclaimer. In short, before assuming, not that you are, that any of the things you’ve mentioned in your message are associated with peri or postmenopause, you should be checked by a doctor you respect, trust and admire — one who listens to you and doesn’t just hand you a prescription to resolve your problems.

That having been said, let me tell you that during those “worst” years of perimenopause, I experienced SO MANY strange, inexplicable and, oftentimes, bizarre feelings in my body, I conjured up notions of having a brain tumor, Parkinson’s Disease, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Menniere’s Disease, a heart condition, paralysis, a potential stroke, glaucoma — have I left anything out? And I say none of this with humor.

Perimenopause is the singularly most uncomfortable time of a woman’s life. I’ve posted many times about the internal shaking. It’s been my nemesis and continues this day to plague me.

I had the facial tremors and buzzing sensations on a daily basis. The feelings were so strange, they almost defy description. No one could see it, but it felt as though I were having a stroke. I’d often experience numbness in my face and on my left side at the same time — a red flag would go up because I thought I was definitely having a coronary situation or stroke. Facial ticks, facial tremors, an electrical buzzing in the back of my neck and various parts of my body drove me to distraction.

The good part about this story is that most of those symptoms DO go away once you’ve been without a period for about a year or two. Those feelings, in the majority of cases, are due to the hormonal fluctuations your body is experiencing. Imagine turning the thermostat in your house up and down a dozen or more times a day. Your house wouldn’t know whether to turn on the heat or air conditioning.

Our bodies become very sensitized during this process. Feelings are frightening — we can walk around for days feeling vertigo/dizziness and/or a ringing in the ears (tinnitus). There were days I had to grab onto a bannister or railing for fear that I was going to fall over. My legs still pose a problem — becoming weak and feeling as if they’re not going to support me any longer. Pain in the feet, calves, shoulders, joints aching and paining often to the point of bringing tears to your eyes.

My suggestion to you would be to get yourself a thorough examination by your doctor. Have a blood workup, sugar test, thyroid, hormone levels, total lipid / cholesterol profile. Insist on an Echo cardiogram, not just a cardiogram.

Our bodies are composed of so many different types of hormones — not just estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Our bodies react to the constant ebb and flow of these hormone levels. Our central nervous system, nerve endings produce electrical impulses. Those electrical impulses are felt differently by every woman. Some women never feel them, while others are fraught with all sorts of strange sensations.

Once you’ve been given a clean bill of health by your doctor, the singularly most important thing you need to do during perimenopause is do relaxation techniques. Learn breathing exercises. Use the paper bag method (I call it “brown bagging it) I have described in many areas of the Web site and on these boards. I’ll provide a link to that at the end of this message.

Feed yourself affirmations every day that this, too, shall pass — that you are not dying — that although you feel as if your body is going to hell in a handbasket and you’re never going to survive this transition, you will. That, most importantly, there is nothing to be afraid of even though it feels at times like someone is holding a gun to your head and ready to pull the trigger.

Oh, Lord, would it were so that they’d find a way for women NOT to have to go through menopause. And, further, I am sick of hearing *some* people say that it’s all in our minds, or it’s our nerves, or if we had better things to do with our time, we wouldn’t think about it. I’ve never stopped being busy during this transition, but that didn’t ease the symptoms.

To those people, I say … until you’ve walked a mile in another person’s shoes, you can’t know what they are going through. Women in menopause aren’t hypochondriacs. I have to be dragged and feeling as if I’m not long for the world before I go to the doctor. Why? Because during perimenopause, I have learned… doctors don’t have answers to most of our questions other than to prescribe tranquilizers or anti-depressants or hormones…. and although some of these medications may help in the short term and to get you over the “hump” of perimenopause, most of them don’t work in the long term — or through the duration of perimenopause and it concerns me that there are no real long-term studies on these SSRI’s (anti-depressants).

If you feel you need to take something to get through this process, absolutely take it. Don’t make a martyr or yourself. However, remember, these medications only temporarily mask the symptoms. Learning ways to relax and cope with the changes you’re undergoing works far better over the long haul than anything else.

I have provided various relaxation and breathing techniques on this, the anxiety and the panic boards that can be tremendously helpful. The one I’d recommend is something I refer to as “brown bagging it.” It’s in various places of the site, but I’ll give you a link to my article after I’ve finished this message.

It has been my experience and I believe that of many other women who’ve passed through Power Surge over the seven years it’s been online that once you are in the throes of perimenopause, for about one or two years — perhaps a third (but not often), you will experience every conceivable symptom on the list of 34+ symptoms (* see below). I went through severe migraines and was *never* a headache person in my life. They lasted about a year or two – on and off, not every day, but they eventually stopped. I went through the facial tremors, buzzing experience as though I’d had my finger in an electrical socket. The migraines and severe palpitations, hot flashes, night sweats, crying and severe mood swings, horrific depression so much so that at times I would put my head on the pillow at night and whisper to God, “Please, if I have to feel this way tomorrow, let me not wake up.”

Those feelings — horrible as they are — don’t generally last for the full transitional period. They usually occur during the worst phase of perimenopause and only last about a year or two. That doesn’t mean you won’t ever experience them again in some milder form, but the severity and frequency will certainly decrease — and hormone therapy isn’t the magical answer. Many women using hormones still experience many of these symptoms.

Just remember that as long as you’ve been given the okay regarding your health by your health care provider, these are symptoms of menopause and, yes, I say symptoms. People have said to me, “Why do you call them symptoms? Menopause isn’t an illness.”

I tell them that I know menopause isn’t technically an illness, but seeing as how I have never felt worse in my life, I will not say that I am well.

I get very passionate about this subject and one of the reasons I’ve kept Power Surge an independent entity is because it allows me the opportunity to express myself without wondering who’s going to pay the bills if I tell the truth about the medical profession and some of the techniques of the pharmaceutical companies.

I will never get rich from Power Surge, but knowing that this community has helped so many women understand what they’re going through without just dumping medical abstracts at them and pushing pills on them has been the most gratifying and “freeing” experience of my life.

Finally, let me add my favorite words — THIS, TOO, SHALL PASS. Believe me, I thought in my heart I would never, ever survive perimenopause, but the internal shaking eases up even though it’s hell while you’re going through it. The palps will stop as well. It just takes time and a LOT of patience!

Be good to your body and it will return the favor in spades.

For the “brown bagging it” reference and many other helpful suggestions, check out the Power Surge Menopause Survival Tips article.

…and the ever useful…

* The 34+ Signs of Menopause

Dearest”

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