The Shock Of Finding Out I Am In Perimenopause
by Shirly Agullano
I was 49 years old when I first saw my GP regarding my low moods.
Although I felt tearful during the appointment, all he said was, ‘I know by your age, that without even testing, you are entering menopause’. He added, ‘You can go on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) if you want, it’s meant to be really good’.
I looked at him in shock. All I could think of was, ‘I’m still young, I’m in a great relationship and we have just moved in together. How can I be going through the change already?’
As a Midwife with over ten years’ clinical experience, I know how much advice women get during the childbearing years.
I waited for advice on what to expect and for some sort of support.
I got nothing. Not even, ‘How are you feeling about this?’
From speaking with other women, I know this is the normal response from GPs. It’s like they don’t know much about the menopause, so they can only prescribe medications to patch up the symptoms.
How is it that women in childbearing years have a wealth of information, but we women at the ‘age of change’ receive little advice, let alone support?
There Has To Be Another Way
I decided to use my knowledge of nutrition and Functional Medicine to do my own research. Until then, I didn’t even know that the word ‘perimenopause’ existed. Luckily, I have access to the NHS database of research findings to support my learning.
Being a trainee Nutritional Therapist at the time, I understood that our diet, lifestyle, physical activity and environment, affects our health.
I am not one for popping ‘a pill’ if I’m in pain, so I definitely did not want HRT. Pain or poor health is a sign that there is an imbalance in the body. Resolving the imbalance may resolve pain or ill health, or at least minimise it effects.
I am also aware there are risks associated with the pill and HRT.
Women at risk for cancers, stroke, dvt, stroke, are overweight, drink alcohol excessively and smoke, may not be suitable for HRT.
Why We Experience Different Symptoms
My perimenopause symptoms include insomnia, brain fog and low moods.
Oestrogen affects the;
- Central nervous system
- Gastrointestinal Tract
- Mitochondria (energy levels)
So it’s no wonder that decreased oestrogen levels cause women to experience symptoms differently.
Natural Ways To Manage Perimenopause Symptoms
To manage my symptoms naturally, I looked at what may have influenced my symptoms;
- Stressful lifestyle – Midwifery is stressful, so is the commute to London from Winchester.
- Diet – my partner (now fiancé) and I were eating out and indulging a LOT!
- Alcohol intake – of course we drank plenty of vino and bubbles.
- We did very little exercise and our weight noticeably piled on.
- I was in the throes of studying for my Nutritional Therapy diploma, so I spent a lot of time in front of the computer.
As I addressed these factors, my digestive issues and gut health, my perimenopause symptoms greatly improved.
I still have low moods, but that’s just part of normal life. However, I no longer have prolonged low moods. This has helped tremendously in my relationship with my fiancé.
I sleep fully most nights and this helps to keep brain fog at bay, as well as keep me mentally alert and focused during the day.
My Nutritional Therapy Practice
As a qualified Nutritional Therapist, I focus my practice on supporting women through peri and menopause.
My perimenopause symptoms, has helped me understand women at the age of change better.
For some women, perimenopause symptoms begin as early as mid-thirties. Nevertheless, no one tells us this and women are not aware to look after their health sooner.
Knowing that there is very little support and information for women at this stage, I am passionate to support women to thrive through peri and menopause.
Functional Medicine (getting to the root cause of ill health), has taught me that peri and menopause symptoms, are not just down to the decrease of female sex hormones.
- Gut health
- Digestive issues
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Physical activity
- Our environment
All influence the severity of how each woman experience her symptoms.
Nutritional Therapy and Functional Medicine provides the tools to uncover how your body is coping with the hormone changes and why your symptoms affect your day-to-day life.
As a result, I am able to support you to manage menopause symptoms with personalised nutrition and lifestyle strategies, instead of ‘guessing’ what will work for you.