Fitness

A hormonal rollercoaster

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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?

12 thoughts on “A hormonal rollercoaster

  1. Sorry, no tips, but I can give you loads of sympathy. I’ve yet to find anything good about the whole experience – the end of periods isn’t even a benefit for me, because I’ve been free of that particular burden for ten years thanks to a hysterectomy. I can tick seven out of eleven of the possible symptoms you’ve listed and it’s now over six years since this delightful phase of my life began. Such joy.

    I can report that exercise seems to help, as does keeping bodyweight within a healthy range. I’ve not found any over the counter remedies that work, and I’ve tried a few – but that does seem to vary from person to person. Next person who tells me that “just accepting it” is the answer will get a punch in the face though. 😉

  2. Menopause is one of the reasons I’m feeling the way I am today especially I’m sure ,I discovered my bike had a flat tyre after my ride yesterday and told my husband I was feeling old and useless everything seems so much harder to do these days I told him I think I’m just too old for this bike riding stuff. Us women are very hard on ourselves I have alot going on ,Menopause,Lupus,IBS,acid reflux and coping with my husbands Parkinson’s diagnosis but this menopause
    thing really messes with my mood .

    1. Aw Robyn! Big hug! Sorry that you are feeling so crummy. If it helps, I think you’re a complete inspiration in the way you handle things. We must get together for a ride soon. Flats are no fun, particularly back wheels. They are a real pest!

      xx

  3. I’m five years in and it’s no picnic. I hate the brain fog, the night sweats and insomnia the most. Oh and the newly added panic attacks are shit too.

    I haven’t had a period for 4 months now (they have been appearing every 3 months for the past couple of years) so I’m hoping once I hit the 1 year without a period mark, I’ll be officially into Menopause and things will ease.

    That’s my blind hope anyway (and don’t tell me any differently).

    Good luck with it all.

    1. Hey Katie, I have definitely noticed the brain fog as well. I am hoping that I cope with going back to University this year. I’m with you on blind hope. Who knows what our crazy bodies want to do?

  4. I never had any PMT issues and assumed I would go through the big “m” without any issues! Wrong !
    Symptoms began several months ago, with the hot flushes being by far the worse. It was not so much the heat but the wave of nausea that preceded it, to the extent that I needed to lean against something. Nothing over the counter had any effect whatsoever. After 3 months I gave in and saw my GP. I had blood tests, a smear test, a mammogram and a bone density scan. I got a completely clean bill of health and started HRT 4 months ago, the lowest dose. And what a relief! And not just the symptoms I was aware of, I suspect now that I was suffering a low level depression, which has lifted I have motivation back, as well as my libido. Which is great for both of us! 🙂

    1. Oh Caroline! You poor thing. I’ve been taking a low dose OC, the lowest on the market. A few months ago, I thought I’d see what my cycle was doing ‘naturally’. I’m back on the Pill for now until I work out what to do! I’m hearing you on the libido as well. It’s all rather disconcerting. xx

  5. My periods have been weird for a few years now – ultra heavy and painful and my mood swings scary.

    I sweat a lot anyway, but the night sweats haven’t been pleasant. This all started when I was about 45 and my mum when through menopause early(ish) too she tells me.

    I’ve not had a period for a few months now so god only knows if that will remain the case. Another blogger I know didn’t have one for nearly a year and they came back!!!

  6. I’m pretty sure that I have some of the emotional instability of peri-menopause but there’s still the fact that I’m having periods so PMS is thrown into the mix. Honestly, I’m surprised that I haven’t killed anyone yet.

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