I am 54 and I started my periods at the very early age of 9.
I have 2 grown up daughters having had my first at 20 and second at 24. I began perimenopause at around 47 with irregular periods and itchy legs which were awful. My periods stopped for a year when my mother died but came back irregularly until I was 51 and then stopped completely about a year ago.
I have had symptoms for around 5 years. My hot flushes are only at night and they aren’t too bad so I have been lucky. When they have peaked, I have had a few during the day. In my experience, diet has helped as I am vegetarian and I have done the 5-2 diet for about 6 years. I have recently started a yoga class which is just one hour a week and I feel so much better for it health wise. It helps me relax when my sleep pattern has been erratic. Since I realised I was menopausal, I have taken calcium & Vitamin D supplements plus an iron supplement & cod liver oil tablet (vegetarian version) for when I had joint pain during the first year (I don’t have it now).
I found in the year before my periods stopped that I would get anxiety about everyday things that usually would not bother me…
My GP has been great: she did offer me HRT but I wasn’t keen due to the side effects it can bring*. I found in the year before my periods stopped that I would get anxiety about everyday things that usually would not bother me so I had to get a grip of myself by taking 10 mins with a coffee (and an electric fag!) or by going for a quick walk. I remember my Granny used to tell me, “If you’re not feeling good, walk it off”. I know what she meant now!
I took early retirement at 52 to look after my grandson. Being at home has helped smooth the journey because being at work with a hot flush or just being tired because of broken sleep is so hard. Younger people just find it funny that you are going through this. I worked as a clerk in a burns unit so it was mostly nurses I worked with and even they don’t seem to be given much information in their training about menopause although they do an Obs & Gyn (obstetrics and gynaecology) term in their training.
Going to yoga has helped me so much as it helps you to relax as well as stretching the stiff joints.
I would like to conclude my experience by saying that I don’t feel sad that this has happened, I feel it’s a chapter in life we are not prepared for much the same as becoming a first time Mum but we get through it and become the best we can be. It’s similar albeit a much lonelier process and we have to listen to what our bodies need. Keep going to the GP, even if it’s for a chat and some reassuring advice. Going to yoga has helped me so much as it helps you to relax as well as stretching the stiff joints. I’m the oldest, shortest and least flexible in the class but I don’t care as it’s doing me good as I’m taking time for myself and above all liking myself. It’s the most important part of the menopause as getting older hurts your pride at times but it has its benefits and you don’t care so much about what people think and you are less likely to go to things you don’t want to go to!
I hope this helps anyone reading this as in my experience no two women’s menopause is the same so wee bits might help others which has helped me in helping myself.
*For more information about HRT, click here.