I've been thinking and talking a lot about perimenopause over the past year, so thought I'd do a bit of writing to share what I've figured out. One big thing is the misunderstanding about what menopause really is, and what the difference is between menopause and perimenopause. Menopause is really just a one day affair, everything that leads up to it, in terms of symptoms and changes is perimenopause. The day when a person hasn't had a period for a full year, that is when they have officially entered menopause, but then after that, everything else is considered to be post-menopause. Important to know when considering how much misinformation and misunderstanding is out there regarding hormonal changes!
Perimenopause can be significant for some people, not so much for others. Symptoms range in the beginning from a change in the length of your menstrual cycle and some hot flashes, to closer to the end of peri-menopause where many people experience dryness, thinning of vulva tissue, less sex drive, and a very disrupted menstrual cycle. There have been many other symptoms associated with this reduction in hormones including dry skin and hair, painful penetrative sex, and frequent yeast infections. My own experience has included all of the above, plus a weird reaction to my own menstrual blood in the last day(s) of my period, where I'm incredibly irritated to the point of pain as well as having inflammation in my vulva. Fun, right? I got pretty frustrated with this state of affairs and started using a wild yam based cream from the natural health store, as a way to boost the amount of progesterone in my body. After daily applications to my skin (not my bits), I have one day of irritation, rather than three, more interest in sex, and vaginal lubrication that seems more like it used to, rather than this useless thinner stuff I had been working with over the past year. I still use lube, but then I've always used lube, yam cream is helpful, not magic. I don't know if this yam cream is making a difference, there are differing opinions on it's efficacy, but for about $10 a month and no side effects, I'm happy to keep using it.
I'll be checking in during this hormonal journey, drop me a line if you have questions or comments about your own experience!