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Come and talk to us (and Gransnetters) about the perimenopause

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RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 23-May-14 09:55:03


As most of you will know, we've got a sister site, Gransnet, which recently celebrated its third birthday cake.

GNers have a wealth of experience in areas that some MNers may only just be starting to think about, or experience personally, and we thought it might be interesting (and, hopefully, fun grin) to open up a conversation between the members of the two sites on some of these topics.

One issue that leapt out at us (or, perhaps more accurately, sidled up to us gradually as we entered the prime of life) is the perimenopause: a period of time before and after the transition into the menopause, when women may start to experience symptoms such as irregular periods, sleeplessness, changes in sex drive and vaginal dryness/itching, emotional ups and downs and so on. (Or may not, of course!)

Lots of GNers have been there and done that so far as the menopause is concerned, so we thought this might be a useful opportunity for MNers to ask some them any questions you may have, and for members of both sites to share some experience, hard-won knowledge and support.

Of course there will be MNers who know lots about the menopause and perimenopause, and GNers who have yet to experience either, so feel free to ask, answer, or both.

There's a parallel thread running on Gransnet; we'll cross-post some questions and answers between the two, but do get yourself a Gransnet log-in and pop over to say hello if you fancy it.

So... what have you always wanted to know about the perimenopause, but have been too afraid to ask?

MargotLovedTom Fri 23-May-14 11:06:56

I'm coming up to 42 and believe I'm perimenopausal. I've experienced changes in my cycle, usually periods coming more frequently but then my last period was at 29 days confused; periods are often heavier; heart palpitations; finding it harder to shift excess weight and now I've got quite severe pain in the joints of my hands and fingers.

Did anyone else experience the joint pain, and could anyone recommend any supplements to take to help with perimenopausal syptoms?


meditrina Fri 23-May-14 11:14:57

Have you crossposted on Gransnet the details of the MN Menopause topic and the current active Perimenopause support thread?

Hassled Fri 23-May-14 13:32:13

What I didn't realise, and wish I had known, was that as part of the general hormonal insanity periods can speed up before they slow down - I was having 2 heavy periods a month before I cracked and went on HRT.

I also wish I'd realised the effect on moods that the perimenopause can have - I went from furious to weepy and back to furious for about a year. Again, the HRT has restored order.

So I think this thread's a brilliant idea - the wall of silence should be broken!

DrankSangriaInThePark Fri 23-May-14 13:35:20

Like Margot has asked, I'd also like to know if any supplements would be beneficial. Just generally. HRT scares me, and I will do anything before going down that route.

I am 48, haven't had a period since December, and realised a few months ago, that actually, no, it wasn't "a bit hot in here". It was me.

I've always wanted to hit random people on the head with shovels though, so that element of my personality hasn't changed. grin

GigiGransnet (GNHQ) Fri 23-May-14 13:44:24

Just wanted to let you all know that we will be copying your questions over automatically onto the Gransnet thread and copying over their responses here. You are welcome of course to post the questions and/or answers on either site, whichever is easier smile

bigTillyMint Fri 23-May-14 13:49:10

I have also been perimenopausal for a few years - maybe since I was about 45/44. I am now 49 and have been on HRT for about 3 years. It has helped the mood-swings, night-sweats and flooding enormously.

What I want to know is, how will I know when I am through the menopause if I am still on HRT? I currently have very light periods - will they stop whilst I am still taking it?

madeofkent Fri 23-May-14 14:06:46

I suppose we are here to tell you that life does get a bit better after a while! Joint pains - I had them, and unfortunately they turned into early arthritis. My shoulder went first, then fingers, then right hip, base of thumb, and so on. Some of the fingers recovered, the horrible night-time stabbing stopped but at the time, apart from taking painkillers, I found that fingerless gloves at bedtime (particularly in cold and rainy weather) plus bedsocks were the only pain relief that worked. As the rest of me was usually naked due to night-time sweats I must have looked SO sexy! However, I do think that some were due to perimenopause and others to arthritis, as a few pains have ceased.

Periods usually stop at around 52 yrs, mine stopped a few years ago.

Sleeplessness was a problem from around 40 onwards, together with the pains. I started to take sleeping tablets, just to keep my sanity. Now I find that as long as I wear a silk sleep mask I am ok, but having a late child also plays havoc with your bladder, which tends to wake you for loo trips.

So, now picture gloves, socks and sleep mask - three

Sex-life - nil.

I am now interested again, but DBH, not so much. So I have been reading articles about low testosterone and the male menopause instead lately, and it really does seem that they go through a similar experience to us, it's just not as noticeable as they are usually grumpier anyway. grin

I love not having periods, the freedom from them is just wonderful, it's almost worth the increased rapidity with which wrinkles develop at this stage of our lives.

Heart palpitations - just stopping now. (late 50s)
Shifting weight - incredibly hard. You have to completely change your way of eating and with added joint pain, exercise becomes harder for many of us. I had to stop going to the gym, swimming - anything repetitive had to go. Elasticity disappears rapidly, as does shock absorption in knees etc.

The anxiety has almost gone, I lived on St.John's Wort for years, it was wonderful. I can thoroughly recommend it. I stopped taking it a few months ago, after a few trial efforts.

I spent a fortune on supplements over the years and I can't say that any of them worked particularly apart from fish oil, which did seem to ease the joints. Ibuprofen on bad nights.

For the hot flushes - sorry, cut back on alcohol and cream. The difference is incredible. So it's lovely to be able to drink again, and have a little cream on my strawberries. When you are in your mid 40s and go to a party, you look at people there and instantly your attention is drawn to the reddest face - always some poor woman. My MiL when I met her always used to look as if she had just got out of the shower, she was so bad.

weebarra Fri 23-May-14 14:15:17

I have started the menopause at 36 due to chemo. Because of my breast cancer I won't be able to take HRT - is there anything else which will calm down my hot flushes and night sweats?

mercibucket Fri 23-May-14 14:27:37

I wish we did a more thorough test for peri menopause as that time of life also often coincides with the start of hypothyroidism
Margot have you had a thyroid test yet?

Symptoms i had for hypothyroidism were

Irregular periods
Changes in periods - heavier/lighter
Hot flushes at night
Terrible pmt
Losing hair/thinning hair
Tiredness (eventually knackeredness)
Joint pain
Muscle pain
Weight gain/changes in weight

I thought it might be perimenopause. Should have gone to GP to confirm. Didnt. Took ages to diagnose.

mercibucket Fri 23-May-14 14:30:45

Madeofkent's posts reminded me of more symptoms of hypothyroidism i had! The similarity of symptoms with menopause is striking

Cold hands/feet (always had that but got worse)
Loss of libido

ouryve Fri 23-May-14 14:43:26

This thread is well timed, as I'd been considering asking to have my thyroid hormone levels checked. I've been pretty sure I'm perimenopausal for a while, as I'm older than my mum was when her periods stopped completely. Recently, though I've had constant problems with the skin splitting on my hands and I now have keratosis piliaris on my forearms. I'm not losing the hair on my head, but I have lost a lot of the hair off my gorilla arms, where the skin is rough and bumpy. All that makes me suspicious that my thyroid hormone levels might be on the low side.

MargotLovedTom Fri 23-May-14 14:49:17

Thanks for replies: I have to go out now but I'll come back to this later.

Oh yes - reverse ditto to merci I have hypothyroidism and I have no idea whether I have perimenopause symptoms or if my underlying thyroid issues have just kicked up a gear (I'm 43) I need to see my GP and get a blood test to find out.

My big issue at the moment is sweating. I run hotter than most people anyway (except when I'm tired) but now any kind of mild physical exertion leaves me dripping with sweat - it's not that I worry about smelling (frequent showering and very strong antiperspirant work for that) but that it's just so uncomfortable and makes me very self-conscious.

devilsgirl101 Fri 23-May-14 19:34:22

*hello I'm 34 not had a period for 7 months hot sweats are killing me don't sleep I'm irritable and snappy everyone keeps telling me I'm too young but all the women in my family seems to have entered the change early help advice welcomed I feel like I'm going insane trying to convince my GP

PurpleAlert Fri 23-May-14 19:57:41

I am 49. Haven't had a period for a year (bliss- they were horrid!)
They started to go a bit wonky about 4 years ago- longer heavy ones then a few lighter ones- longer time between them. Stop start etc.

I take soya flavins and sage leaf which mostly keeps the hot flushes at bay. Night sweats come and go but it's the insomnia and dogged tiredness which is getting me at the moment... and I am soooo achey. I have mild fibro and it seems to have got worse recently.

Libido has vanished and I would like to get it back- any one got any ideas.

Solo Fri 23-May-14 21:12:01

Devilsgirl a lot of years ago I knew a woman of 27 who wondered why she had stopped having periods for years; she thought it was her weight. Turned out she had finished her menopause completely. I don't think it's a common thing at all to have an early change, but your GP ought to be doing a blood test for you to know why you are the way you are so early. Get tough with the GP perhaps? I do feel for you.

NfkDumpling Fri 23-May-14 21:54:33

Can I just jump in as a GNer? I'd never heard of peri-menopause until recently. Many years ago when I was 50 something my periods got closer and closer together until I was on more than off. They'd always been heavy. This lead to anaemia with the attendant symptoms like tiredness and irritability, headaches - I wasn't a nice person. The sleeplessness was the only thing that didn't bother me - I just got up and did a bit of ironing or read a book.

I was diagnosed with bad fibroids so I had a hysterectomy. Wonderful! No more periods! I went on to the appropriate (oestrogen only) HRT and am still on a very, very low dose which now is slowly, very slowly being decreased. This means all menopause symptoms have passed me by.

There's a great fear of HRT. I just want to say don't be afraid of it. If menopausal symptoms make your life (and those around you) an absolute misery, and your doctor thinks it's a good idea, don't dismiss it out of hand. Yes, you need to be more aware and not miss health checks, but the advantages can massively outweigh the risk.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 23-May-14 22:24:20

So much of this I'm agreeing with grin
The hot flushes
Not sleeping
So thirsty (drink loads then up at 3am for a pee)
Periods are very hit and miss - last one Feb

Had a blood test and scan (I thought it might be an ovarian cyst as I had pain on my left side) but blood tests showed higher cholesterol (and just on the hormone level tipping into menopause) and the scan showed a gallstone.

My abdomen is constantly bloated and tender, the right side (gallstone) has a definate 'point' where it's sore but I still get pain on the left .
Usually it feels like a clenched fist in my stomach, squeezing. And the feeling like something 'kicking'

Tiredness- I sometimes feel in the shower I could just collapse.
Aches and pains, backache.

I'm going to see next month about the gallbladder then see how things go from there.

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Fri 23-May-14 22:33:54

I am 49 and still as regular as bloody clockwork. Same roaring PMT every month, same heavy periods as I have always had, although they seem to be a bit more clotty than usual. One the size of my hand fell out of my fanjo last month. I screamed for DH to come and see, but strangely he didn't want to. grin

No hot flushes.

No more irritable than usual.

Not anaemic.

KristinaM Fri 23-May-14 22:46:04

I'm 52 and still have regular periods too. Sigh

No other signs of anything that I can identify as peri menopausal.

I've always been grumpy so no difference there either

Should I worry ?

TheMightyMing Fri 23-May-14 22:53:48

F@@king thyroid! Definitely have it checked if you display the aforementioned symptoms. I am aged 42 recently diagnosed as underactive- I thought I was losing my mind or dying!!!

No period type issues as I have a coil.

Sorry, this just show that I am still a bit wobbly because I am in fact 43 not 42!!!! See what I mean!

Hate taking daily medication- I feel like my body is letting me down as I rarely took so much as an aspirin.

Meglet Sat 24-May-14 09:36:40

So thinning body hair might be a sign of the peri-menopause? I've been waxing my fuzzy legs for 25yrs without any of the let up you're meant to get with waxing. Except in the last year, it has got finer and more sparse. I might even buy a skirt!

This coincides with raging mood swings, palpitations, couple of hot flushes, bad sleep, breast pain, spots and aches and pains. The GP gave me a blood test last year (I was 39) and said I was fine. I really don't feel fine sad. I had a hysterectomy 5yrs ago so I have no idea of my cycle any more, my body feels totally out of control and I can't stand it.

Greenrememberedhills Sat 24-May-14 10:27:19

I've been through the menopause and was pretty lucky. I was a bit angry and depressed at the time, but external factors were the main reason, I think.

I had a few hot flushes but otherwise ok and wouldn't have noticed, other than lack of periods.

fondasharing Sat 24-May-14 11:40:17

Thought I would share with some of you, at the age of 67 (a very healthy 67) - my lengthy research and then, subsequent benefits to friends and myself on the things that work to help your through the perimenopause and beyond, into full menopause:

Read two books thoroughly - these are the best two:
Natural Alternatives to Menopause by Marilyn Glenville
The Wisdom of Menopause by Christiane Northrup.
Both of these cover the perimenopausal stage.

Go to your GP and insist on thyroid test, hormone test and bone scan ( before it is too late to help your bones!).

(If a hysterectomy is ever recommended do not let them take your ovaries and/or cervix unless it is imperative. You will go into instant menopause and lots of your sexual pleasures will go with it too.)

HRT may be OK for a very short time but lots of natural supplements work just as well - they take longer but benefit all areas of your health. They include red clover, magnesium, Vitamin D3, Vitamin E, Glucosamine Sulphate and thyroid helpers. You can do all your own research by reading the books I have suggested.

Food helps!!! Avocados, asparagus, spinach etc.etc. - In summary, a very healthy diet with very few processed carbohydrates, minimal caffeine and alcohol only with food. Help your liver by using lemon juice, garlic and milk thistle which all help to "flush" this important fat flushing organ.

Vagifem pessaries certainly help with dry and sore vaginas (small amount of HRT but assured by medical profession it is minimal).

Exercise is essential - particularly walking and strength training (Body Pump is great and enjoyable) Yoga certainly helps and spinning is another enjoyable fat burner if you can get to a gym.

Hope this helps some of you. All of the above really work and at the end of the day we each have to take responsibility for our own health and ensure that our bodies are as prepared as possible for the third trimester - something that creeps up on you faster than you think!! Your family will thank you for it and so will your body.

Good Luck and a very healthy perimenopause and menopause to you all.

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