There are things in life that no one really teaches you. Like how your body can suddenly feel like it’s letting you down. Like how you can feel like your brain is working at half speed much of the time by the time you hit your mid thirties. There are many things my wiser self wishes my younger self had known about perimenopause. Here’s 3 things I wish I’d know to look out for as I headed into my thirties.
1. Perimenopause creeps in sneakily
Interestingly, it was actually my pattern noticing husband who picked up on my hormonal fluctuations some time before me. Before monthly tracking apps like Clue were such a thing, he had me tracked in his phone, to alert him to when exactly he needed to give me a bit of extra space or buy extra dark chocolate on the weekly shop!
When I realised the level of accuracy with which my husband was predicting how I might behave, I had to admit, he had a point.
I observe super smart, capable women struggle too, initially similarly unaware. Unaware of the extent to which their hormone health is running their life, work and relationships day in, day out.
As a specialist in women’s health and burnout I find that it’s often the driven achievers that find this particularly hard. Balance is continually elusive in all areas of their life - maintaining their professional commitments and goals, keeping up with their kids demanding schedules, funding a lifestyle that needs continued finance. Their body and hormones literally can’t keep up with the pace. They live, as I once did, forever in a rush.
2. It starts earlier than you might expect
Peri-menopause was a topic that in my mid thirties would not have captured my attention. I was more concerned with whether each child was fed and in the right place, at the right time with the right kit. With my husband frequently working away from home the rest of my precious energy was consumed by running my business, maintaining and building friendships around a family as opposed to professional life and grabbling the snippets of spare time I could to jog, play tennis or ski.
Yet had I had stopped to observe, it may have saved me much stress and anxiety over the appearance of an array of random and frustrating symptoms. As well as enabled me to avert many a headache, mood swing, moment of anxiety, exhaustion or brain fog! Hot flashes? They came later but those other niggles became very apparent well before I turned 40.
Despite considering myself as being healthy, sporty and connected with my body as a physio, as well as highly attentive to what I eat as a health coach, symptoms of peri-menopause caught me out way earlier than I expected.
3. We can’t fool the body
Whilst it can appear on the surface that all is well, the reality is the body never lies. Whilst intermittent stress is totally normal and humans are equipped to cope well for short bursts of stress, the relentless pace and stress that many 30 to 50 somethings find themselves under, can be totally unsustainable.
Peri-menopause, as are most health concerns, are considerably exacerbated by stress.
It’s impossible to restore hormone balance without sorting out the overall stress levels of your body.
Yes there are pills to modify your hormones, mood or other symptoms. From anti-depressants and anti inflammatories, to analgesics and HRT, by the time women come to me, they’ve often started popping a pill or 2 to cope with their symptoms. Or they depend on sugar, coffee or alcohol to kickstart their sluggish systems.
The problem is if the physiology of high stress is still running the show in the background (be it from fast paced living or environmental stress), then the problem isn’t being solved. Nor are the learnings and opportunities for growth being optimised. So gradually the body is declines further into depletion, from which it’s really challenging to recover from naturally.
The great news is that women do NOT have to suffer. There ARE solutions to thrive through the perimenopause years and beyond, so please do NOT despair! The body and hormones have immense capacity to heal.
Sally Dibden is a physiotherapist, holistic health and performance coach and yogalates teacher. She works with driven women around the globe to help them optimise and take back control of their amazing bodies, hormones and life and is the creator of The Hormone and Energy Reset, a powerful online holistic coaching experience. Her free quick start Feel Fabulous Formula can be downloaded over on her blog at www.thewellbeingconsultants.com