Is It Perimenopause Or Just My Endometriosis?
As an endometriosis patient, I have lived with menstrual irregularities all my life. And I am not alone in this. Ask anyone with this disease and they will list a series of symptoms that change from one month to the next. Since my late thirties, I’ve experienced changes that were difficult to categorize. Things would feel out of whack. Was it endometriosis? Or was it something else?
I enumerated the worrying changes to my doctor, hoping they would provide me with a logical explanation. I mentioned my rises in body temperature, sleep disruption, and occasional spotting. Yet, my doctor offered no troubling diagnosis. All they did was reassure me it was nothing to worry about. They theorized that it could be down to a hormonal imbalance, my history with endometriosis, or both. They also said it could be an early perimenopause.
What is perimenopause?
Perimenopause literally means "around menopause" and it refers to the time during which our body transitions towards menopause. Once someone has gone through twelve consecutive months of no periods, they’ve reached menopause. The interesting thing about perimenopause is that it can be experienced at very different ages. Some go through this phase in their forties, whereas many can start noticing symptoms in their mid-thirties.
The tell-tale signs of perimenopause can include period irregularities, hot flashes, sleep disruption, and vaginal dryness. There is also an increase in infertility as ovulation becomes irregular, although pregnancies are still very much possible. Sexual desire may change too.
Due to the declining estrogen levels that occur during perimenopause, loss of bone density can happen. This will increase the risk of osteoporosis. A decrease in estrogen also affects blood cholesterol levels. This is linked to a higher risk of heart disease.1 Because of the multifaceted changes that can come with perimenopause it is essential to track them regularly. If something doesn't feel right, or it becomes too life-disrupting, it's time for professional help.
It is important to track symptoms and speak to a doctor
Some perimenopausal symptoms can prove to be a challenge to manage. Things like mood swings and a decrease in libido can be quite emotionally trying. Luckily, there are many treatment options for such issues, such as hormone-based therapy. Hot flashes can also be extremely disrupting. They are a good reason to seek medical advice since they can also be managed with the right medication.
In my case, there is no 100 percent way to assess whether my symptoms are due to perimenopause or just my good-old endometriosis. All I do is take care of each symptom as it comes.
I manage my symptoms individually
The dietary changes I introduced since my diagnosis help me manage my hormonal imbalance. I have also made life-adjustments to deal with any sleep deprivation. I use essential oils and follow a strict nighttime routine. Whenever it all gets too much, I reach for doctor-prescribed sleeping pills.
For the occasional rise in body temperature, I wear layered clothes whenever possible. I also carry around wipes to cool down and feel refreshed if I begin to sweat profusely.
I may never know whether my ups and downs are just another side-effect of endometriosis, or due to an early perimenopause. But being aware of my body’s natural cycles has helped me accept the things that are out of my control. This has enabled me to find the right tools to manage whatever changes my body throws at me.
Do you know what your endometriosis phenotype is?