I’ve had a higgledy piggledy week and now that I have the benefit of hindsight, can see that I’ve been at the mercy of what I’d call a rollercoaster of hormones. The clinical name for this is “perimenopause”, which all sounds rather benign, however can be a really vicious experience for many women. This process of progression to menopause seems to be shrouded in mystery, partially because every woman experiences the process differently and at many different ages. The loss of fertility, plus the other concerns of ageing menopause brings, due to a lack of oestrogen and progesterone, can make for a very emotional experience. For me it is throwing up all types of questions along the lines of “am I over the hill?”, “am I too old?” etc etc. I did do some courses on evidence natural based medicine for the relief of peri-menopause symptoms years ago when I was a pharmacist, so I’ll be looking at as many avenues as I can to stay as “level” as possible through the whole process.
I did come across a great article on Elephant Journal about said changes and I’ll paraphrase them here.
Peri-menopause typically begins when a woman is in her mid-forties. But, every woman is an enigma and has her own version of psychosis to bare.
For my little sisters who are just reaching the top of the hill, here are the top ten (or eleven) symptoms signifying that your hormones have officially gone haywire:
1. Changes in Your Period: Periods can become shorter, lighter, longer or heavier in any combination. You may feel like you are bleeding out like a stuck pig.
2. Vaginal Changes: The pedals of your precious flower will dry up and fall off. Just joking…but it’s common for her become dry and thin, and sex could become painful.
3. Trouble Sleeping: Refrain from turning to your iDevices. They just make it worse.
4. Low Libido: As the mature womb winds down and gives up it’s reproductive rights, your sexual desire may decide it’s time for a sabbatical.
5. Difficulty Concentrating: I forgot what I was going to say here.
6. Weight Gain: Don’t kill the messenger.
7. Moodiness: Prepare your loved ones. You may feel fatigued and stressed, emotionally sensitive, irritable and generally pissy all or most of the time.
8. Night Sweats: May lead to extra loads of laundry.
9. Hot Flashes: Your inner thermostat goes ballistic; you’ll get ridiculously warm in the face, neck and chest with or without sweating, mostly with, possibly drenching several outfits a day. Sorry…more laundry.
10. Loss of Bone Density: Get to the gym and pump some iron, ladies.
11. Urinary Incontinence: Kegel kegel kegel! Strength and control of the pc muscles leads to greater bladder control, but don’t over-kugel.
Am I experiencing the majority of these to varying degrees? You betcha.
Where does my exercise and training fit in with all of this nonsense? According to most sources, continuing to maintain a regular training regime is of great benefit. Luckily fitness does not discriminate against age and provided you give your body the correct training stimulus, there is no reason that you cannot continue to become fitter and stronger. However all of these symptoms can affect how well you train and race.
For example, I raced in a local criterium on the weekend with a few of my teammates. From the get go, I was sluggish and had trouble bridging gaps and staying on the wheel. I ended up blowing up after the prime (sprint lap) and had to abandon the race. I wrote it off as “just training” to my friends and generally enjoyed my morning, but as the day wore on, I found myself becoming cranky and irritable. I complained to Mr Lucy that he was making me homicidal and as I couldn’t rationally see that he was doing anything to annoy me, I told him that I thought I was a little on edge hormonally. As the afternoon wore on, I felt worse. My Lucy retreated to the TV room to watch a Clint Eastwood flick. My face felt so hot and prickly that I thought I was featuring in a particularly bad viral outbreak. I asked the entire family to feel my forehead to check for a fever.
“Super cool,” they all said, as I reached for ice packs to take the burning sensation out of my skin.
Next minute, wham! My (not so monthly these days) friend arrived and suddenly I had that beautiful insight into why I had been feeling so sub par. As for the “fever”, it turns out I was experiencing my first hot flush. Hooray for me.. not!
It looks like I have a few years of this in front of me. Does anyone have any tips on how to stay relatively sane during this time?