8 Perimenopause myths and horror stories you DON’T have to live with

Perimenopause, that long drawn-out phase before reaching the menopause sounds like a horror story to you, doesn’t it? Perhaps it’s even got you burying your head in your to do list, keeping busy and avoiding spotting the signs because you don’t want to wake up and realise that you are there.

Perhaps the women in your family had “an awful time of it” and you struggled to like them during their perimenopause and you fear becoming that person yourself.

Cathriona Hodgins Nutrition Perimenopause Program

Perimenopause is not spoken about enough and that means that you might not have noticed the signs and you probably feel a little lost and alone – especially if you have younger girlfriends who don’t get it and are still seemingly swanning around exuding youthfulness whilst you’re secretly wondering where your youth went.

All of this is perfectly normal, but it’s not ok. Because it means that myths and horror stories around Perimenopause take root and women like you feel overwhelmed and stuck. In this blog post, you’re going to get a good look at the myths and horror stories out there that DON’T have to be your reality.

It’s time to bust those Perimenopause myths and write your own story.

The 5 most common myths around Perimenopause

In my Nutrition practice, as a Perimenopausal woman myself and having spent many an hour listening to girlfriends’ experiences of this phase of life, I’ve heard an awful lot of myths.

Myth 1: My doctor will guide me through this….

When you start noticing shifts such as feeling tired all the time, generally feeling lacklustre and that time when one of the kids asked you, “Mummy, why are you sad?” the first thought that comes to mind is that you should go and see your trusted GP – they’ll have all the answers to what the hell is going on and will “fix you” right up.

Except, in reality you find that the person you’ve trusted with your health all your life suddenly doesn’t seem to get you or your symptoms. This is especially true where I am in Ireland as women stick with their family Doctor that they have been seeing for decades and they realise that whilst they’ve grown and shifted, their Doctor is still operating as if they are the same person.

You find yourself frustrated when the tests say, “everything’s normal” but you feel far from yourself. Their suggestion? Perhaps you are stressed and need some rest, maybe you leave your Doctors’ surgery with a prescription for antidepressants.

The truth is, there aren’t enough specialists in Perimenopause to go around. Yes, this is a stage of life women have been going through since the dawn of time, but believe it or not most GPs haven’t received in-depth training on Perimenopause and are ill equipped to support you. And you deserve that support.

Myth 2: There is so much talk about Perimenopause we know it all now…

Your next thought when you realise that things are changing for you, is that Perimenopause has been talked about to death and everyone knows all about it, so what’s the point in you trying to share your experience of it with those nearest and dearest to you?

If that was true, would you have been telling yourself that you’re, “making a fuss over nothing” and putting yourself down because, “My mother went through this and she just got on with it, I’m sure I’ll be grand…”, rather than speaking out about your experience? If it was such a commonly talked about topic, you’d be able to turn to your GP like Myth 1 says you should.

And if it was so well known, everyone would understand the difference between Perimenopause and Menopause and be able to easily identify when they are in these phases [you might want to check out this blog post if you’re unsure yourself].

If you’re an Irish woman like me, you’ll know that we are only getting started with opening up the conversation, we have a long way to go yet before women feel fully understood and supported through their Perimenopausal years. Our young teens need to hear about it, our partners need to hear about it. This myth is really damaging as it encourages you to, “just get on with it” and suffer in silence. You’re worthy of feeling empowered and in control of your health.

Myth 3: HRT is THE answer to all your symptoms

On coming to the realisation that you’re in Perimenopause you may have seen, in your late night Google trawling for solutions to your symptoms, that HRT is THE answer, the cure all, the miracle cure.

Yes, HRT can be a game changer for some women but its not for everyone. It’s not a quick fix, it takes time to find the right dose and combination, and it needs good follow up with a supportive Doctor. Plus, your health history may actually rule out HRT as an option for you. There are alternatives to HRT and you need to know about them [I wrote this blog post about what you need to know before you reach for the HRT that you might be interested in].

Myth 4: Weight gain is an inevitable part of Perimenopause

You, like many women, might believe the myth that it’s inevitable that we put on weight during this time. You might already have started shoving your “glad rags” to the back of your wardrobe and have a full complement of leggings and tshirts to wear as you inevitably gain those pounds.

Weight gain is NOT inevitable. You don’t have to wave goodbye to your favourite outfits and resort to a uniform of leggings and comfies. You CAN still love your body and feel glamorous during Perimenopause. What’s the secret to defying this myth? Tracking your symptoms and knowing your triggers for weight gain.

Myth 5: Hot flushes are the main symptom

You might be thinking that you can’t be in Perimenopause yet because you’ve had no hot flushes. After all, that’s the key giveaway symptom that every women experiences at this time, isn’t it?

Sure, the hot flushes are the symptom we probably talk about the most and that most people are aware of. It’s what we find it safe to talk about (and maybe have a little laugh about in the office as we stand under the air con) as we go through this stage of life.

But actually, as our hormones shift during Perimenopause, they affect so many areas as they fluctuate from one cycle to the next. So your main symptom may not be the same as Karen at work’s main symptom. And, what most women find to be their biggest struggle, is the harder to talk about emotional and psychological toll that Perimenopause takes. This could look like:

  • Forgetting words mid-sentence at work
  • Asking your 10 year old, “What that called?” whilst you point at some common kitchen appliance.
  • Struggling through brain fog that weighs you down and controls you
  • Hearing, “Mammy why are you so angry all the time?”

This is the main symptom for many women and can feel like the hardest to deal with. But you can absolutely take steps to soothe and improve your mood during Perimenopause. You don’t have to feel like a flustered, baffled wreck.

The top 3 horror stories you might believe about Perimenopause

And then there are the horror stories, these are the ones that keep you up at night, fretting about losing your youth, fertility and zest for life.

  1. Living with vaginal dryness that’s so bad you struggle to get comfortable at your desk with your work clothes on (thank God for leggings when you work from home!)
  2. Finding yourself unable to jump on the trampoline with your kids anymore or go to a HITT class because of bladder leakage (yes, that can be the hormones). And finding yourself watching the ads on TV for pads thinking, “I’ve become one of those women.”
  3. Becoming dependent on anti-depressants, because you doctor told you you’re depressed and you couldn’t be perimenopausal at 45.
    No wonder you’re feeling anxious and unprepared for Perimenopause, if you’ve been told all of these myths and horror stories! Picturing yourself struggling through all of these experiences whilst also juggling being a mum, progressing your career and running a home is far from inspiring. 

But, as you now know, these myths and horror stories don’t have to be your reality.

There is another way.

And on September 26th you could be one of the intimate group of women I’ll be preparing and empowering for Perimenopause.

It’s a 4 week journey that you won’t want to miss if you want to write your own Perimenopause – and beyond – story.

Sound good? Head on over to the Prepared and (em)powered for Perimenopause page to discover all the details and get yourself booked on.