We’ve come a long way, baby, but there is still a ways to go.
One of the most common complaints with the onset of perimenopause, aside from the symptoms themselves, is that women do not have enough information for perimenopause symptom management and for maintaining their health and wellness as they go though perimenopause and beyond.
The reason for lack of menopause knowledge is primarily due to women being too embarrassed to discuss perimenopause with their friends, family, partners, and even medical professionals. It is something most women goes through and by better understanding what those experiences are you will be able to take better control of the changes you are experiencing and help inform those around you.
Talk With A Perimenopause Veteran
Ideally your mom would be your go-to for your first conversation, but any relative or friend who has completed the perimenopause journey is a great place to start. Ask questions along the lines of what age was she when changes in her period started occurring, how old was she when she had her last period, which perimenopause symptoms (as well as the severity and length) did she experience, how did she manage her symptoms…
There may be a bit of confusion when talking with a perimenopause veteran as perimenopause is a fairly new term and the phrase “going through menopause” actually refers to the perimenopause period leading up to menopause. Perimenopause is now used to describe the time when hormonal shifts in your body lead up to menopause (which is now referenced as the 12-month anniversary of your last period).
Talk With A Medical Professional
The next source to seek out would be with a healthcare provider by making an appointment with the focus of your visit being a perimenopause conversation. You can also ask for advice on safe vaginal moisturizer options if you are experiencing vaginal dryness as well as suggestions for maintaining great vaginal health and any other ‘female’ health issues you might want to discuss. Keep in mind that not all doctors are hormone experts and they are trained to respond to symptoms so think of it as more of a story instead of just listing symptoms. Things like “I’m noticing vaginal dryness fairly often”, “I’m feeling more tired and irritable than normal at least every few days”, and “I don’t normally experience PMS but…” can personalize your symptoms of perimenopause. Keep track of your symptoms for a month before your visit to help support your story and make it easier to help find the solutions that are right for you. Start a list of your symptoms and each time you experience any possible perimenopause symptoms make a note of the date and time and list a corresponding 1-10 rating of severity.
Talk With Your Partner
Keep in mind that perimenopause affects your partner too. By not talking about it unnecessary assumptions (such as you might have a serious illness or contemplating a separation) might be made. There’s a good chances your partner is noticing changes and may be more aware of some of your perimenopause symptoms than you are but doesn’t know how or is reluctant to approach the subject.
You will want to clarify the definitions of perimenopause and menopause and debunk any myths - like that menopause means you’re old or that a lower libido means you no longer love them. Start the conversation in a comfortable setting and start with a clear message: “I love you and we need to discuss some things which might make you feel awkward, but it is really important for you to understand what I’m going through.” Stress that they should not feel personalized by some of your hormonal changes and invite him/her to respond with love. Let them know that a simple hug or an “I understand” can go a long way. Also reassure him/her that you may be experiencing perimenopause but that menopause sexual wellness is something you are committed to. Another thing you can do is invite them to accompany you to any perimenopause medical appointments where he will learn more, provide you support, offer clarity on your symptoms and ask questions that you might forget or get answers to their own.
Talk With Other Perimenopause Women
By reaching out to other women who are experiencing perimenopause symptoms you will do at least three things: help yourself and other women feel more comfortable with the subject by openly talking about perimenopause, learn how others are coping which may lead you to discover additional symptom relief options you can try that might work for you, and offer support and understanding from someone who is going through similar hormonal changes and can relate to the common theme of the aging experience. Shared experiences are a great way to bond with others which can improve your emotional health. Be sure to find the humor too (it’s there, really) as laughter is a great stress reliever.
We at Very Private want to help get the conversation started (and the misconceptions laid to rest) so please feel free to ask any questions or leave comments on our blog or social profiles to open up the dialogue on perimenopause for everyone.