OK, so you think you might be menopausal, or maybe perimenopausal (the lead up to menopause). You may be wondering why you are experiencing different symptoms. There are many symptoms associated with menopause, so let’s go through some of them now – perhaps this will help you feel more normal and realise you are not alone!
The symptoms that most people will have heard of are, for example:
Brain Fog, and/or Forgetfulness
Even the most together and organised woman can experience this, and it can really throw you off balance as it will seem so out of character. Sadly, this can be misdiagnosed by doctors as early onset dementia (yes, really!), so it is vital that you understand how normal it is (although it’s still a good idea to get dementia checked off the list, just in case, especially if your parents experienced it at a young age).
There are a number of things you can do to help overcome brain fog and forgetfulness. Recognising them as legitimate symptoms of menopause is the first step. Other ways that you can deal with brain fog and forgetfulness include…
Hmm, now… what was I saying? Oh yes, dealing with brain fog and forgetfulness! Firstly, do not be hard on yourself – this symptom has the nasty habit of becoming more exaggerated the more stressed or overwhelmed you feel. Try to avoid being superwoman and taking on too much. Deal with the symptoms as they present themselves. Keep a diary! We find that a good old-fashioned written diary works best, because you have more control over it and you do not need to login having to remember passwords! Treat yourself to an outing to a shop such as Waterstones or HomeSense, where they often have some beautiful diaries – it will become a pleasure to use. Start your ‘to do’ list the day before, so that you don’t wake in the morning and try to remember what you are supposed to be doing that day. Take the pressure off by planning ahead.
A friend of mine uses post-it notes around the house, on the fridge door or inside the bathroom cabinet – very good for jogging your memory and helping with forgetfulness. The possible irritation this causes your family members is definitely worth it for your peace of mind and sense of control! Also, please don’t feel ashamed of this experience – talk to your partner and your children, and let your loved ones help you. Husbands can be very understanding if they understand what they are supposed to understand (that sentence made sense to me, I hope it did to you, but if not, then I know you will understand what I am trying to say – I will now take a breath).
If you are perimenopausal, then you might be experiencing irregular periods. Periods can be irritating enough when they are regular but now, to add insult to injury, you find you just do not know when they are going to happen. Getting caught short is so embarrassing, so make sure you have towels and tampons in your handbag, and perhaps a change of underwear too (they don’t make big bags for nothing!).
One of the most annoying things is a night-time bleed – I have lost count of how many sheets I have ruined, even mattresses sometimes. I wake to a scene from a horror movie after a mass murder! There is a company, called Thinx, which specialise in period underwear (no, not the Elizabethan kind of period!). Apparently, the knickers will hold up to four tampons full of blood without leakage, and without damaging your clothes. Many women swear by them! And let’s face it, when you get to our age, often big comfortable pants matter more than sexy ‘skimpets’! In fact, as a practical kind of girl, I’m sure I started wearing big pants in my 30s, and each year they seem to get decidedly bigger! Am I ashamed? NO. Am I comfortable? YES. My husband still loves me, thankfully, and, in fact, his pants have increased in size at the same rate, so I think we can call it quits! (Sorry for sharing that, darling, but I know you are as comfortable as I am!)
Unfortunately, apart from being prepared, there is not much you can do about irregular bleeding, although you could ask your GP for hormone-based contraception as this may alleviate some symptoms. And, of course, contraception is advisable if you are still having periods – although the risk of pregnancy is very low, it still can happen.
Now, let’s get all hot and sticky (I know you would rather not)… Night sweats, wow, so upsetting for some women! All hormonal, but you can help yourself by not overdressing, using lighter weight bedding, and perhaps having a fan in your room. Sleep on a towel, and always use a mattress protector – sweat causes staining, so mattress protectors can be very useful. But let’s face it, night sweats are often day sweats too – they don’t discriminate, do they? As heat is an issue for most menopausal women, you may want to steer clear of the following:
- Smoking, or even inhaling second-hand smoke (is your partner a smoker?)
- Wearing tight clothing that prevents ease of movement.
- Having heavy winter blankets or duvets on the bed.
- Alcohol and Caffeine – these are two major triggers in heating up the body, so they are wise to avoid.
- Spicy food can be a trigger for some.
Last, but not least, manage your stress levels. Stress is a key trigger and can exacerbate menopausal symptoms, so become more mindful of your stress levels. During our retreats, our psychotherapists and nurses discuss how stress affects the body and mind, and how we can deal with it.
We offer guidance and information on the symptoms of menopause at all of our retreats, and show you tips and techniques which will not only help you manage your menopause better, but also set you up for a healthy post-menopausal life. We hope you can join us soon.
Thank you for reading and showing us support on our quest to educate and empower women all around the world!
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