Perimenopause and Menopause
Latest research shows that the silence and taboo that has surrounded menopause for decades is contributing immensely to many of the symptoms and issues presenting for women.
Women to women support has enabled and empowered women to pro-actively take on menopause, take control of their lives and look upon menopause through a new more positive lens. With many women returning to the workplace or changing careers, my vision is to see these safe spaces open up throughout Ireland.
Early menopause – Under 40:
Early menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) refers to a menopause occurring well before 51 years of age, the average age of menopause in Ireland and the UK.
Statistics reveal that 1 in 100 women under 40, 1 in 1,000 under 30 and 1 in 10,000 under 20 experience POI. In the UK, 110,000 women aged between 12 and 40 years have been diagnosed with POI. For information and support, visit the Daisy Network website.
Perimenopause – 40 – 50 age
This is the transition period leading up to menopause. Fluctuating hormonal levels. Begins in your 40s. Lasts 2 – 10 years.
Most symptoms appear during these years due to fluctuating hormones. Women need to be aware of symptoms as too often perimenopause is misdiagnosed.
Menopause- 50 – 55 age
Menopause is a retrospective diagnosis
Average age in Ireland and the UK is 51 years. Menopause is a retrospective diagnosis. A woman has reached menopause if she hasn’t had a period for 12 consecutive months if over 50 years and 24 consecutive months if under 50 years of age. Contraception is an important consideration until post menopause. As women transition through menopause, with support they can discover a new rhythm as emerging research points to midlife as a powerful period in a woman’s life filled with opportunities and second chances.
Post Menopause – 55 plus age
Beginning of menstrual-free lifestyle. Symptoms ease. Hormone levels stabilise. Begins in your 50s and lasts the rest of your life.
Symptoms settle with many women finding a new zest for life, changing career or seeking promotion. Statistics show we have the greatest number of women today moving through their 50’s who are educated, economically independent, fit, healthy and better than any other time in history, with scientists pointing to there being one billion women experiencing menopause by 2025!
Menopause and Transgender
A transgender person is a person who does not identify as the gender they were assigned at birth.
For those assigned a female gender at birth who may eventually identify as male, it is important to become aware that if transition to male involves removal of the uterus and ovaries, immediate menopause ensues. If the uterus and ovaries remain, testosterone is still prescribed in high doses which decreases the production of oestrogen thus causing menopause symptoms. Education information and support is key. For information and support, visit the Transgender Equality Network Ireland website and NHS Transgender website.
Menopause, leadership and employment
There was a very interesting academic paper published in 2019 titled “Killer whales Killer women” by an Australian academic.
It refers to the scientific work carried out in recent years on whales and menopause. Whales, post menopause, naturally become the leaders in their pods, respected for their experience and wisdom. There is much emerging research on the role of the post-menopausal woman in the world today with empowerment and leadership as recurring themes. As the number of women experiencing menopause continues to increase and life expectancy continues to expand, a woman aged 50 today can expect to live for another 40 years. In reaching out and finding ways to access our inner wisdom, women can open up to new possibilities and thrive in the next chapter of their lives. Mary Portas, Kamala Harris, Melinda Gates, Michelle Obama are just some of the leaders in this cohort.
Most Common Symptoms
Our menopause journey impacts us mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is important to become aware of the symptoms that can occur. No two women will have the same menopause journey so there is no one template that any doctor, healthcare provider, counsellor or coach can prescribe. You are an individual. Your menopause journey is unique. Seek out support and get a provider to work in collaboration with you. You have the power to own your menopause and control how you want to navigate this stage of life in order to thrive in your next chapter. Hover over any of the symptoms listed below for more information.
Very common and can range from mild and occasional to severe and occurring hourly. Hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) and lots of non-hormonal help is available, including Sage, black cohosh/Promensil, CBT, yoga and meditation. It’s about finding what works for you.
-Loss of Libido
Often impacted by other symptoms of menopause. When we are not feeling our best, our libido levels drop. This is where radical self-care and reaching out for support is vital. It can change everything.
Very common, disrupts sleep patterns. The hormone melatonin impacts our sleep so getting support is vital. There are lots of management paths available. Reach out for support and see what works for you.
One of the top 3 issues I hear from women. Melatonin is the sleep hormone and is impacted at menopause. A poor night’s sleep is consequential and continuous poor sleep patterns can have dramatic consequences on our physical and mental health. Reach out for support. Both hormonal and non-hormonal pathways are available. Sleep hygiene needs to be prioritised, no phones in bedroom.
This can be one of the first indicators that you are entering perimenopause. A woman is at menopause when she has had 12 consecutive months period free if over 50 and 24 months if under 50 years. Check out the symptom checker and see if you have other symptoms.
Another very common condition. I can highly recommend a great book titled “My Menopausal Vagina”. It’s like an encyclopaedia for vaginas at midlife. Localised oestrogen or non-hormonal creams (e.g. YESS) and pessaries are available.
You are not alone, and it really is okay to talk about it.
The above information was provided by Midlife Women Rock Project.
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