Could this be the “P” word?

I have a medical clinic in Seattle where I practice naturopathic medicine (www.seattleintegrativemedicine.com). I am a primary care physician focusing on women’s health issues for women mostly in the 25-50 year old range. This is a little story about one of those women, who is so like many of the 35-45 year old women I talk to every day.

I met Elaine about one year ago in my practice  (her name has been changed to keep her confidentiality). She was a 46 year old woman struggling with her weight, which continued to go up despite increasing exercise and diet changes. She also talked about PMS symptoms that seemed to be getting worse over the year and had noticed her periods were starting to change. We discussed the possibility and likelihood of Perimenopause given her age and symptoms. I’ll never forget the look of shock on her face when I said the P word. She burst in to tears at the thought. She was truly taken aback.

After meeting with her and talking about the lack of information “out there” about what happens to women’s bodies as we approach menopause, I decided to take action and get the word out. Hence, this blog. Since meeting Elaine, I’ve met many women in similar situations, myself included. No one is quite as shocked as she was, but almost daily I hear, “No one talks about this. I wish I would have known what to expect.”

Here are the top 10 symptoms of Perimenopause**:

  1. Your periods will change
  2. Your sex drive will change
  3. Your body will change and start to look different
  4. Your hair may start to thin
  5. Your skin will change (remember the acne you had as a teen? Yeah…)
  6. You will hate your husband/partner
  7. You will yell at your kids/pets
  8. Your sleep quality will change
  9. You will start to forget things (“wait, why did I come in to this room??”)
  10. You will feel like you have PMS all month long

**PLEASE NOTE: you may breeze through perimenopause and menopause without the slightest hint of any of these symptoms! A lot of women do. Many women struggle for years with one or more of these symptoms, however, so know that, and be gentle and kind with your lady friends.

In future posts, we’ll break each of these down and talk about natural and conventional medical treatment options (with a focus on natural ones, of course!). Stay tuned…

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