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E73: Am I Really In Perimenopause?

You might be thinking, "I'm too young for perimenopause", but if you're 35 or older you're very likely there.

If you're not sure, this episode is for you.

I'm sharing the 5 most common signs that you're in perimenopause.

Perimenopause is a normal reproductive phase, but it's when we have unbalanced hormones through this phase that things get very messy really quickly. But that does not have to be your experience of this normal phase, it really can be the best time of your life!

Join me in this episode as I share the 5 most common signs that you're in peri!


E73: Can I Really Be In Perimenopause?

Well hello and welcome back to episode 73.

Now if you’re new here, I thought it might be a good idea to reintroduce myself.

I’ve noticed that there has been a significant increase in downloads of my podcast in the last few months, specifically in the US and Canada so I wanna say a warm welcome if you’re fairly new here.

I’m Vandghie and I’m a qualified Dietitian. I qualified in 2008 and have had a passion for health and wellness since I was really young.

After having my 2 babies, last one in 2012, I started doing crossfit and was an avid crossfitter for about 10 years.

But around the age of 31, I started noticing that my health was not quite where I wanted it to be. However, I always found some explanation for the symptoms that I was dealing with.

And from the age of 31 to about 36 these symptoms got progressively worse and new ones popped up way too often.

So by the time I was 35, I was about 7kg overweight, despite my 4-6 times of crossfit a week and consistent healthy eating, I had eczema that developed in my 30s, I had acne that was impacting my self-confidence in a big way, I was bloated ever single night, I had inflammation of my joints all the time, severe irritability and riding that emotional rollercoaster all of the time, very low libido, severly dry lips, and inflammatory reactions in my face that lead to swollen and painful lips and eyes that would come and go and got progressively worse over the years.

I was absolutely desperate for answers and help but the numerous visits to my doctor and specialists left me feeling totally helpless. I had so much trust and faith in my doctor, I was trained in a western medical school and so for me, she was supposed to help me with these health issues that I was experiencing, but it took me 5 years to recognize that there was not going to be any solutions, apart from the hormonal contraceptives that she wanted to prescribe.

So finally I reached out to the research and tried to get to the bottom of things for myself.

That’s when I learned about perimenopause and the significant impact of hormonal imbalance for women my age.

Now I was 35 at the time and had no idea at all that I was right in the middle of perimenopause! In my head, I was way too young for these kinds of things, but what I discovered in the research was absolutely mind blowing.

So I started implementing the things that I stumbled across in the research as a trial and what I experienced was absolutely life changing.

Pretty much every single one of my symptoms resolved in 7 weeks and I lost 7kg, which is about 15 pounds, in that time.

So that lead me to really question all of the things that I’ve learned in my degree and that I’ve been implementing in practice all of these years.

Now I’m definitely not saying that everything that I’ve learned towards my degree was wrong, but I started looking deeper into the literature to find what we’ve been missing in the western medicine world.

I wanted to understand why it was that hundreds of thousands of women were dealing with similar symptoms, plus some, with absolutely no answers and solutions from our doctors.

And there is a whole story to that that I covered in episode 68, so I wanna encourage you to go back and listen to that one.

But things became really clear to me, that as a medical professional, there was a huge chunk of information and research that I was not aware of and not taught in medical school. And this would be the same for the majority of healthcare professionals.

Women’s health research has only started very recently and it’s time that we as medical professionals acknowledge that we never received this kind of training and that we need to really do better for women.

So at that time, I started specialising in women’s hormonal health and have done so for the last 3 years. I make sure that I stay on top of the latest research and bring it to you here in a practical, easy to implement and easy to understand way.

Now the question for today’s episode is, ‘Can I really Be In Perimenopause’?

I’ve heard this so many times.

Surely I’m too young to be in perimenopause.

Well my friend, if you’re around the age of 35 or older, you’re most likely in perimenopause.

For me, my symptoms started as early as 31.

So what you need to understand, is that perimenopause is the normal reproductive stage that comes after our fertile years. We can still conceive during this phase, but your body is moving towards menopause.

This is not a process that happens overnight. It can take up to 20 years, and with that comes some significant physiological changes that will not only impact your physical health, but also your mental health and as a result, every single aspect of your life, including your marriage, relationship with your kids, your career and everything else that is important to you!

So I thought it might be helpful to give you 5 signs that you may be looking for that could indicate that you’re in perimenopause. The most significant indication probably that you’re in perimenopause is age. Like I said, if you’re around the age of 35 or older you’re in perimenopause.

But these 5 signs will actually indicate that you’re in perimenopause and your hormones are not happy. They need some support in order to balance out, so that you can actually go through perimenopause without all of these symptoms.

I just wanna use this moment again to remind you, perimenopause does not necessarily have to include all of these symptoms that are often debilitating. Perimenopause can be the most rewarding reproductive phase that you go through. It’s only when we have hormonal imbalance through this phase, that it becomes messy very quickly.

So let’s talk about the 5 most common signs that you're in perimenopause, with unhappy and unbalanced hormones.

Number One: You start to notice changes in your period.

This can mean that they become debilitatingly heavy. So much so that you need to take days off work or have to change your period product more than once every 2-3 hours.

It also can mean that they become very unpredictable so you simply never know when they’ll show up or even painful to the point where you need to take pain medication. Or you have spotting a few days before your period starts and the intervals between your periods can become shorter or longer. I think the most common thing that I hear is that the stretches between periods become very short. So you feel like you’re always on your period or the menstrual phase of your menstrual cycle. So I call this messy periods.

The second sign, is Gut symptoms.

Many women suffer from IBS during their perimenopausal years. The definition of IBS is not fixed, but generally characterized by bowel symptoms like bloating, abdominal cramping or pain, gas, diarrhoea or constipation or a combination of these symptoms.

It is very common for women to experience bloating and it’s generally one of the main concerns of why they reach out to their doctor. And of course, they are not offered any sustainable and long-lasting solutions, other than perhaps a very restrictive diet like the FODMAPS diet or prescription drugs.

Studies suggest that women are twice as likely as men to suffer from IBS, which in and of itself, is a good indication that the female sex hormones play a role.

I’ve seen in practice how imbalanced hormones play a big role in gut health and so these symptoms can often be a clear indication of hormonal imbalance, particularly through perimenopause.

The third sign that can indicate hormonal imbalance through perimenopause, is brain fog, fatigue and changes in sleep patterns.

Now when I say brain fog, you probably know exactly what i mean.

You walk into a room and can’t remember why you came there, or you stop talking mid sentence, not knowing what the point was you were trying to make, or you put your keys down somewhere and then spend an hour trying to find them, tracing back your steps and getting highly frustrated with yourself.

The problem with brain fog is that it can’t be measured on blood tests. It feels silly even going to your doctor or reaching out for help because you don’t even know how to validate this symptom.

Well you’re not crazy. Brain fog is a thing and it’s important enough to take note.

This usually goes hand in hand with constant fatigue and a loss of drive and motivation to do anything.

And you may have convinced yourself that all of these symptoms are as a result of your poor sleep.

But the fact is, that all of these symptoms are not necessarily as a result of the other, they are all symptoms in their own right.

Hormonal imbalance can lead to poor sleep, chronic fatigue even if you sleep enough, brain fog and a loss of drive and motivation.

The fourth common sign that you might be in perimenopause with unbalanced hormones, is a change in your metal health.

Sometimes it’s as significant as struggling with anxiety and depression, but quite often it can feel like just constantly feeling overwhelmed, or feeling like things are not quite right. You feel like you are easily triggered and act out disproportionately. You feel like your kids and your husband annoy you all of the time and you hate that you’re feeling that way.

You’ve become the yelly mommy that never talks but yells at the kids, the husband, the dogs and even at the furniture.

You’ve become someone that you know you’re not and you’re not quite sure how you got there or how to get out of it.

And then finally, the fifth sign that you might be dealing with imbalanced hormones through perimenopause, is painful intercourse because of vaginal dryness and a really low libido or sex drive.

This can also lead to an increase in urinary tract infections, especially after intercourse.

This is all quite often signs of low estrogen, which is what happens as we move towards menopause.

So what I really want you to assess today, is that you’re body will be going through significant reproductive changes, especially from the age of 35.

The sooner you understand and accept that, the sooner you will learn how to deal with that and feel your best.

And let me tell you, you can absolutely feel a million dollars in this phase of your life.

In episode 76, I’ll be telling you about all my favourite things about perimenopause. There are a million things about this reproductive phase that I love and I’m daily so grateful that I’m not 20 anymore. But before you can reach this stage, you have to put in an effort to understand what is happening with your body and what it needs. How you can support these changes so that you can absolutely feel in control of your hormones and your body.

And I realise, you’re probably here because you’ve been trying to achieve this for a while now, not sure where to find those answers that you need. As I said, that was my journey as a qualified dietitian, so how much more so for you if you have no background in any health sciences. But that’s why I’m here, to help you fill in those gaps so you can really get to enjoy this season of your life.

Next week, in episode 74 I’ll help you see that there are scientifically proven solutions out there for you that do not involve a doctor, a diagnosis, any prescription drugs or restrictive diets. I’m really excited to share that one with you. And then in episode 75 I’ll tell you why it is important to act now and not wait until things actually get worse.

If you’re here listening to this episode, things are likely already impacting life for you, which makes it the right time to take action.

I hope this episode has given you clarity around whether you are in perimenopause or not. But if you have more questions about it, please do feel free to reach out to me.

And if you’ve found the episode helpful, I would be so grateful if you can share it with another lady that really needs to learn these things.

And lastly, while you’re here, I would so appreciate if you could rate or review this podcast wherever you’re listening to it so that more women can discover it.

Thanx for being here friend, until next week

Bye for now.

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