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I’m experiencing perimenopause symptoms, and my body is slowly changing into something foreign. Since my ovary removal surgery, I’ve noticed a slow and steady progression towards perimenopause. As my body enters this new phase, I’m attempting to accept these changes and work with them, not against them. Of course, it’s hard to do so when everything in your being wants to fight the process and deny the obvious. But this doesn’t change the fact that my body is undergoing a metamorphosis. So, instead of seething in denial, I’m taking notice of the symptoms I’m experiencing and making the necessary adjustments to accommodate.

Most Bothersome Perimenopause Symptoms

Period irregularity has been the most aggravating symptom. It started a few months after my surgery, where my cycle would be slightly longer than expected but quickly adjusted to a regular rhythm. Now my cycle is out of whack and follows an inconsistent schedule. My most extended cycle has been 44 days. And when my period started, my flow was heavy and my cramps more intense.

Since my periods have become so irregular, I’ve come to appreciate my reusable menstrual products. Having a menstrual cup, disc, and period underwear mean I’m not caught off guard when my period starts out of the blue. In addition, my Lumma menstrual disc has been instrumental in managing my heavy flow periods.

woman with hand on stomach holding a red card with a question mark signifying a missing period as a perimenopause symptom

Another symptom that has increased in severity since my surgery is night sweats. I’ve gone from being a cold sleeper to being a hot sleeper that wakes up covered in sweat. It’s the grossest and most awkward feeling I’ve ever experienced. I am even making tweaks such as lowering the thermostat before bed and sleeping with a fan. However, this hasn’t prevented me from waking up soaked in sweat with damp sheets and clothes.

And to add insult to injury, I’ve struggled with getting proper sleep. It’s either a challenge to drift off to sleep or stay asleep. Even using supplements like melatonin hasn’t improved this symptom. While melatonin makes it easy to fall asleep, it doesn’t always guarantee I’ll stay asleep. Plus, it’s not worth feeling groggy the following day and struggling to wake up.

Most Concerning Perimenopause Symptoms

While the above symptoms are inconvenient, they’re not severe or give me pause for concern. However, some perimenopause symptoms have given me worry. The first is discovering I have high blood pressure and cholesterol. I didn’t have an issue with my blood pressure and cholesterol in the past, but since beginning perimenopause, it’s been a real complication.

Due to fluctuating estrogen levels, heart disease becomes a real risk when going through perimenopause. And, I’ve had to begin taking medication since I could not get my blood pressure under control on my own. Going through this has taught me a lot about our misperception towards high blood pressure and cholesterol. It’s easy to believe that these aren’t issues if you follow a healthy diet and exercise. However, it’s not always true.

woman taking blood pressure reading using a digital blood pressure machine with an arm cuff

I’ve done both things and still have high blood pressure and cholesterol issues. Sometimes our bodies need extra help. Hence why shaming and blaming others for these conditions isn’t beneficial. As evident in my case, we have no control over what our bodies do physiologically.

The other symptom that concerns me is the prolonged periods and inconsistent flow. I experienced prolonged bleeding for 12 days during one of my cycles. It’s troublesome because prolonged bleeding is a symptom associated with fibroids. In addition, I had two fibroids removed during my endo surgery and know there’s a risk of them developing again. So, I question whether this is a symptom or a one-time occurrence.

How I’m Dealing with My Symptoms

So, how am I dealing with perimenopause so far? By adjusting my health and wellness as necessary. One of the first adjustments I’ve made has been to my nutrition. Having high blood pressure and cholesterol is serious and puts me at risk of a heart attack. So, managing it is crucial for my overall well-being.

I’ve found that decreasing sodium intake and limiting saturated, and trans-fat foods have had positive improvements. So instead, I prioritize consuming foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and olive oil. Also, strawberries, apples, and olive oil contain phytoestrogens, improving cardiovascular health and other perimenopause symptoms.

woman with sweat stains on shirt as an example of night sweats and hot flashes

In addition to nutritional adjustments, I’ve begun taking supplements to help with addressing some of my symptoms. Vitex is one of the supplements I’m taking to help improve my night sweats and increase hormone balance. However, studies are inconclusive regarding its’ benefits. So, I’m keeping in mind that this may not have the desired effects I’m seeking and paying attention to see if I notice any improvements.

The second supplement I’ve added is Amberen. They’ve created a supplement specifically for perimenopause. One of the main benefits they promote is its ability to increase menstrual regularity, so I decided to give it a try. In addition to regulating periods, they also claim to help other perimenopause symptoms such as stress, anxiety, hot flashes, fatigue, low libido, and muscle and joint aches. So, I’m excited to see if it can deliver on all these claims.

Another way I’m combating symptoms is through regular exercise. I’m making sure that I diversify my training to address my specific needs. For example, I utilize strength training to ensure good muscle and bone health. At the same time, I make sure to get enough cardio for the health of my cardiovascular system. And I do yoga and pilates to improve flexibility, balance, and elongate muscles. All essential areas for wellness as I go through this transition to menopause.

Lastly, I’ve made lifestyle modifications to improve my overall wellness. The first significant change has been to my mindset. As I expressed earlier, this transition has not been easy. Having your body change from what you’re used to is frustrating and disappointing. But, I’m learning to accept the process and learn from it.

an african american woman smiling and glancing to the side

There’s no way I can avoid or prevent it from happening. My body will do what it’s going to do whether I like it or not. So, I get a choice to be miserable or find joy. I choose acceptance and joy. I also choose to extend grace towards myself and be patient. I’m still figuring all this out, and it’s new. My body is transitioning to a new phase of life. There are things I’ll be able to do and some things I won’t. It’s better to face this reality with grace, gratitude, and flexibility instead of judgment, despair, and anger.

In addition to this mindset shift, I’ve made a more practical lifestyle modification and begun following a bedtime routine. Creating a designated sleep and wake cycle has helped me with falling asleep and decreased how often I wake up. Additionally, getting a solid eight to nine hours of sleep each night has helped reduce my daily fatigue.

Taking It One Step At A time

Perimenopause has been an interesting journey so far. And it feels like each day; I’m learning something new about this process and how it impacts my body. However, keeping track of these symptoms and making the necessary adjustments physically, mentally, and emotionally to manage them is where my focus lies.


 

References & Related Reading

Healthline: 12 Foods that are Very High in Omega-3

Healthline: Vitex Agnus-Castus (Chasteberry): Benefits, Side Effects and Myths

WebMD: Perimenopause

Mayo Clinic: Perimenopause