Women need a pause. On the hamster wheel of life in the western world, we need time to pause and reflect. It’s really important. As life’s givers – mothers, sisters, wives – we’ve almost become conditioned to think that our value is based on servicing other people. That narrative needs to change.
“Perimenopause is about having the space and confidence to become ourselves.It’s time to reset and reevaluate.”
As the eldest of six sisters, I always knew I would go into perimenopause and menopause first. But the narrative was really quite negative around it, coupled with a lack of understanding, awareness and education.
I felt strongly that I wasn’t ready to fade into the background or lose my sparkle. That’s why, in the last seven years, I’ve made it my mission to spread the word and help women get the best care, support and attention.
That’s why I wrote the book The Perimenopause Solution, because I wanted women to understand that perimenopause is a time to be proactive and to take charge. It’s very much about female empowerment, a new evolution.
Perimenopause isn’t just an experience that happens to our ovaries. It’s much more rounded than that and it needs a 360° integrated approach. Sometimes it may need medical or HRT intervention, sometimes a more holistic approach. It’s about an integrative approach addressing all factors in a 360 degree way: embracing the psychological, emotional and spiritual as well as physical
I urge my patients to understand that there are other options that work really well, particularly in those earlier stages of perimenopause, with insomnia, anxiety or fatigue. That’s the time to look inwards. Look at your lifestyle, are you too tired to exercise? Are you resorting to alcohol in the evening? Are you running on caffeine? Now’s the time to really take stock and have a longer term vision.
“Perimenopause is a great time for a check in. There may be coexisting medical conditions to consider: a thyroid issue, iron deficiency or lack of vitamin D or vitamin B, especially if you’re eating a plant-based diet.”
Women are visiting my clinic with a huge array of symptoms: insomnia, brain fog, anxiety, loss of joy, weight gain, loss of confidence, lack of concentration – almost to the point of thinking they have ADHD. I think the psychological symptoms affect women much more than the physical symptoms which are almost easier to deal with as they’re more tangible. And it’s the psychological symptoms that are making women doubt themselves because they affect their relationships and their work.
It’s crucial that we view perimenopause and menopause as their own distinct life stages.
Perimenopause is the time leading up to the menopause, when oestrogen, progestogen and testosterone levels in the body rise and fall sporadically. As the ovaries prepare to stop releasing eggs entirely, the reproductive system slows down until a woman reaches the menopause – the diagnosis marking a year since her last period.
All too often perimenopause is carelessly thrown together with menopause but the reality is, these are two startlingly different life stages. Perimenopause can last from a few months to ten years whereas menopause is technically just one day.
“As we move forward in education and understanding, women will know it’s about starting early, not waiting until you’re already there, and understanding the complete journey throughout our hormonal life as women.”
I firmly believe that no woman should be an island when it comes to perimenopause. Engaging with other women, sharing stories and experiences can be incredibly powerful. A shared experience is a human experience, after all. It’s what we’re designed to do.
So let’s normalise the conversation, let’s break down those taboos, let’s make perimenopause and menopause as easy to talk about as puberty and periods.
And let‘s incorporate men too. When men are aware, they’re so much more able to support their partners, sisters, mothers and colleagues.
I feel hopeful for the future of my daughter and my daughter’s daughters. I’m confident she’ll feel empowered and knowledgeable about her perimenopause and go into it with eyes wide open, knowing what to expect and how to react.
The change of perimenopause narrative is definitely happening…