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Perimenopause: Signs & Symptoms?

An urbanMama recently emailed:

I'd love to see a post asking readers about their experiences with perimenopause symptoms, advice, "must read" books, and so on. I'm 40 and noticing changes around my period (more cramps, bloat, mood swings, etc.) and wondering if it's perimenopause. Is weight gain common/inevitable? What about the mood swings? Is 40 too young? I think I'm just at the beginning of this process and realizing I know nothing! I need some advice, support, and reassurance, and it's not a topic I've seen discussed here before.

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I am also just about to turn 40 and have been noticing changes in my period: more headaches, heavier, and some spotting--which my dr says is due to "hormonal changes/fluctuations." Aarg, really? Already? I'd also like to know of others' experiences with perimenopause: age, symptoms, resources, etc.

I am 43 and have found my periods have become rather light but also a little erratic, as close as 23 days and as far as 30. I used to be an every 28 days kind of gal. But, I can also tell that I don't ovulate every month any longer (I did NFP for a long time so I'm pretty in tune with this).

i'm not sure 40 is young for this. i started seeing changes at 38. i'm 40 now and my periods vary like crazy - some are really hard, some i hardly notice, some cycles are 23 days long, some are 40. when i asked around, most of my 40ish friends had similar stories. my doctor (whom i love!) has hammered on the message that i should drink lots of water, take fish oil, and do some vigorous exercise every day. she swears this is the best hormone balancing regimen there is.

i'm trying, but i've gotta say i'd do better with the exercise if we had 26 hour days...

I'm 44 and have been struggling with this for a while and now have the hot flashes and the insomnia. My doctor has given me the same advice as Jojo's but frankly it's starting to wear a bit thin. I know that hormones are dangerous but sometimes at 2 am I fantasize about taking them. I have a friend who swears by yam cream which apparently is a natural estrogen that you can rub on your skin. Still sounds like estrogen to me, though.

I started having some drastic changes at 41--extremely sore breasts, heavy periods 22-24 days apart, raving bitch of a mom and wife the few days beforehand (when normally I'm pretty even-tempered) and severe SEVERE exhaustion. I went to A Women's Time where they specialize in women's hormonal changes. I started on the premenstrual supplement (which you can get at New Seasons) and almost immediately felt back to normal. The naturopath I saw there said that perimenopause can start up this early and will last for about 10 years or so. Great...

At 38, I started experiencing erratic periods, increasingly severe cramps, and mid-cycle moodiness. I was afraid it was perimenopause, but my doctor felt I was a bit young and submitted me for some tests. They found a uterine polyp. After having it removed, my symptoms disappeared. I know I'll be facing the real thing soon, but it's worth having your doctor investigate any obvious changes. Just in case your symptoms aren't the result of the natural course of things.

I like Susan Weed's "New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way." Very reassuring and informative (even though I don't follow her herbal recommendations yet: I just read the sections on whatever's bugging me). I'm 43; noticed subtle changes starting in my late 30s (independent of pregnancy/lactation). Almost more than the physical stuff, I HATE the mood swings: yuckyuckyuck.

But, things have become REALLY weird in the last few months, so, as Christina's story suggests, there might be something else going on.

I'm a little late to the discussion, but I too have been experiencing changes over the last year. I just turned 41. The most severe impact has been HEAVY, HEAVY bleeding which has resulted in severe anemia, which brings lots of other fun side effects. I exercise quite a bit (2 days of cross training and 3 days of running). I'm currently training for a half marathon. It hasn't made a bit of difference. I have just been living with it, but recently I hit my threshold. While giving a presenation to elected officials, I began to feel blood trickling down my legs and soaking my skirt; subsequently, I gave in to hormone therapy. I'm on the pill (2nd cycle now) and I feel pretty nauseous and tired. UGH! I am now seriously considering the Mirena IUD. 10 years of this, really?!?

I'm 43 and have had all of the above, plus now it feels like there is no lubrication, so that even walking feels weird sometimes. I just had babies, (4 1/2 and 1 1/2)and between the two pregnancies, my periods were HEAVY. Now they are just unpredictable.
Maybe I had my two just in the nick of time!

I am doing cortisol in the am and seratonin in the pm, when I remember, to help with insomnia --and progestrine cream.

Is the progesterone cream prescription or over the counter?

Insomnia or sleep deprivation can also be attributed to a symptom of perimenopause. It is the hormonal imbalance that lead to lack of sleep or disturbing sleep patterns.

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