Chaos to Calm

The Perimenopause Puzzle: Decoding the Signs and Symptoms

April 23, 2023 Episode 6
The Perimenopause Puzzle: Decoding the Signs and Symptoms
Chaos to Calm
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Chaos to Calm
The Perimenopause Puzzle: Decoding the Signs and Symptoms
Apr 23, 2023 Episode 6

Perimenopause can be a confusing and sometimes stressful time as symptoms can vary widely and be mistaken for other conditions. In this week’s episode, Sarah is chatting about the ins and outs of diagnosing perimenopause, including the best assessment types and other factors that may be influencing your symptoms.

Tune in to find out about:

  • How to recognise and acknowledge perimenopause
  • Why adequate documentation of health history is essential
  • Hormone testing vs. symptom-based assessment
  • Ruling out other possible health factors
  • Important considerations when assessing perimenopause


Interested in learning more about my free Perimenopause Decoder resource? Check out www.theperimenopausenaturopath.com.au/decoder

Find my blog all about perimenopause diagnosis here:
www.akesohealthcare.com.au/how-is-perimenopause-diagnosed/

Send us a question for the FAQs segment or your feedback, we’d love to hear from you.

Find out more about Sarah, her services and the Freebies mentioned in this episode at https://www.ThePerimenopauseNaturopath.com.au

  • COMING SOON: Discover how to use food as your most powerful medicine, smoothing hormonal fluctuations and easing perimenopause symptoms naturally. (Yes, you have more options than hormone therapy!) Say goodbye to feeling out of control and hello to feeling more like your old self every day, with PerimenoPOWER (because who wants to pause anyway?!)
  • The Perimenopause Decoder is the ultimate guide to understanding if perimenopause hormone fluctuations are behind your changing mood, metabolism and energy after 40, what phase of perimenopause you're in and how much longer you may be on this roller coaster for.
  • Been told your blood test results are "normal" or "fine" while you feel far from your best? Discover the power of optimal blood test analysis with The Blood Test Decoder: Optimal Ranges for Women Over 40.
  • For more, follow on Instagram at @theperimenopausenaturopath.
Show Notes Transcript

Perimenopause can be a confusing and sometimes stressful time as symptoms can vary widely and be mistaken for other conditions. In this week’s episode, Sarah is chatting about the ins and outs of diagnosing perimenopause, including the best assessment types and other factors that may be influencing your symptoms.

Tune in to find out about:

  • How to recognise and acknowledge perimenopause
  • Why adequate documentation of health history is essential
  • Hormone testing vs. symptom-based assessment
  • Ruling out other possible health factors
  • Important considerations when assessing perimenopause


Interested in learning more about my free Perimenopause Decoder resource? Check out www.theperimenopausenaturopath.com.au/decoder

Find my blog all about perimenopause diagnosis here:
www.akesohealthcare.com.au/how-is-perimenopause-diagnosed/

Send us a question for the FAQs segment or your feedback, we’d love to hear from you.

Find out more about Sarah, her services and the Freebies mentioned in this episode at https://www.ThePerimenopauseNaturopath.com.au

  • COMING SOON: Discover how to use food as your most powerful medicine, smoothing hormonal fluctuations and easing perimenopause symptoms naturally. (Yes, you have more options than hormone therapy!) Say goodbye to feeling out of control and hello to feeling more like your old self every day, with PerimenoPOWER (because who wants to pause anyway?!)
  • The Perimenopause Decoder is the ultimate guide to understanding if perimenopause hormone fluctuations are behind your changing mood, metabolism and energy after 40, what phase of perimenopause you're in and how much longer you may be on this roller coaster for.
  • Been told your blood test results are "normal" or "fine" while you feel far from your best? Discover the power of optimal blood test analysis with The Blood Test Decoder: Optimal Ranges for Women Over 40.
  • For more, follow on Instagram at @theperimenopausenaturopath.

00:02

Hey there. I'm Sarah McLachlan. Thanks for joining me on the Chaos To Calm podcast, a podcast designed for women over 40 who think that changing hormones might be messing with their mood, metabolism and energy and want to change that in a healthy, sustainable and permanent way. Each episode will explore topics related to health and wellness for women in their 40s. Like what the heck is happening to your hormones, what to do about it with nutrition, lifestyle and stress management, and inspiring conversations with guests sharing their insights and tips on how to live your best life in your 40s and beyond. So if you're feeling like you're in the midst of a hormonal storm, and don't want perimenopause to be horrific, then join me on chaos to calm as I share with you how to make it to menopause without it wrecking your relationships and life.

 

00:58

Hello, and welcome to the chaos to calm podcast, where we are discussing how to master the chaos of your changing hormones, mood, metabolism and energy in your 40s. As usual, I'm Sarah, the perimenopause naturopath and I am your host. This is episode number six. And today we are discussing the ins and outs of diagnosing perimenopause. We're going to cover the who, what, when, where and why. So let's dive straight in, shall we? First up I want to talk about understanding that perimenopause. It's a phase of life. It's not really a medical condition. It's not something to be pathologized. So we really need to shift that perspective from perimenopause being a problem that needs to be fixed. Like thinking about it like it's a deficiency of hormones, and start thinking about it as a natural phase of life that can be navigated and enjoyed or thrive in with the right tools and support. Now I know that can feel really foreign to you. Maybe right now, if you're in the thick of lots of symptoms and feeling pretty rubbish. But I really want you to understand it's not an illness, it's not a medication of medical condition, medication, you know, it's not a problem to be fixed with, you know, a deficiency of a pill or something like that. It's a phase of life every woman goes through, it's like a rite of passage, just like puberty was a rite of passage and took us from being a girl towards being a woman. This I like to think of perimenopause and menopause as taking us from being a woman to being a wise and wonderful woman as well. So not an end, not a closing or out of things, but the start of the next phase of life. Doesn't that feel exciting, feels so much nicer than thinking about it as a horrible, problematic time that needs to be fixed. So, yeah, so I just want to put that out there and thinking about that today. And let's talk some more about what goes on with perimenopause and your symptoms and how do we how do we get it diagnosed and diagnose, is that even the right word?

 

03:16

How do we recognize that we're in that phase of life? There we go. So because unlike medical conditions, perimenopause doesn't need to be and doesn't have to be diagnosed through medical scans or tests. The actual gold standard for diagnosis or req, acknowledging that you're in perimenopause, at the moment is not hormone testing. It's actually symptom based assessment. So it's important to rule out other causes of symptoms. Maybe you might have blood testing, to sort through that. And strong case taking, taking a great health history, which is something that Wendy and I do in the chaos to calm method. We spend like a long time with each of our clients, talking them through their health history, getting to know them, getting to know the symptoms that their body is, is throwing out the flags that it's giving us about what's going on or where the impact is most being felt of those hormone fluctuations and changes. So the conventional medicine the western medicine approach to diagnosing perimenopause is actually based on a combo of symptoms taking and looking in health history. So same as similar as what we do we just we have the luxury or the benefit of having more time to do it more thoroughly there. And also looking to do something else about it or do something about it, not just dismiss it as our hearing menopause or perimenopause. So that's it.

 

04:52

So when we're talking about symptoms, there's a vast array of symptoms in perimenopause and you know, right when fatigue irritability, brain fog, headaches, food intolerances, sensitivities, hay fever, allergies, hot flushes, night sweats, heavy periods, light period short cycles, long cycles, like there is a massive range and I haven't even covered off things like joint pain, frozen shoulder, changes in your libido. vaginal dryness, what what else, there's so many of them, I just literally created a new freebie for you to go and download to have a look at and see how many of the different things that can be attributed to perimenopause or menopause you are experiencing. And that can give you a really great understanding of just the vast impact that your hormones your female hormones have on all the symptom systems of your body. So we take a symptom based approach over hormone testing, because your hormone levels can fluctuate so widely during perimenopause. And you know, hormone testing can be useful and helpful in many cases, but it's generally not done to help you diagnose perimenopause. And if, if you've been to your GP and ask them for hormone testing, they've probably said no to you. And, you know, their reasons may vary. My reasons for not doing hormone testing are that your cycle has probably started to vary for many of my clients, it can alternate between short and long, or it's getting longer. So it's very difficult for us to get the right day or the optimal day to do the testing on for us to get an accurate idea of what's happening with estrogen and progesterone and your other hormones there as well. Because there are specific days of your cycle that hormone testing is ideally performed on. But cycle variations or missing cycles can make it really difficult to get accurate readings. Now, if you're on hormonal medic medications, like the Mirena the pill or HRT that's going to impact your hormone levels and make it really unreliable. For us, we can't get an idea of what your actual own hormones are doing when they're being shut down or altered by those synthetic hormones.

 

07:29

So it's sometimes it can be useful. And you know, don't get me wrong, sometimes hormone testing is really useful, particularly if it's premature or early onset menopause or there might be some other health conditions at play, then it's really important to follow up and hormone testing might be really appropriate then, but your practitioner, whether that's a GP or a natural health practitioner, is best placed to talk you through that there as well. So one thing I didn't mention, and I'll just flick back to it now with the symptoms, symptom based assessment is looking at your menstrual cycle as well. So you've heard me say it before, I'll say it again, get your trackers out, and get in start tracking, even if your cycle is getting longer or shorter, or it's only coming quarterly or, or whatever. Please start track it and track those symptoms that you have in between whether it's your mood changing or, or headaches or migraines or anything like that. It's worth tracking all of those things and collecting that data for yourself so that you can see when things are changing, or you can see if there's a cycle or pattern to those symptoms that are coming up them.

 

08:52

Collecting that data with your symptoms and tracking it against your cycle really helps distinguish if it's something hormonal, or another health condition that's causing your symptoms. And you know that it's not it's easy to dismiss things as being perimenopause. But sometimes there can be other things at play, and you need to follow this up. Maybe it's your thyroid, and yes, your thyroid is more likely to go a bit wonky during perimenopause that that's the medical term. They're wonky of course, but it's you know, we still need to investigate and follow that up there as well.

 

09:30

So, you know, the symptoms of perimenopause can be really challenging we know and they don't have to be your inevitable or just how it is you know, to grit your teeth and bear it. There's lots of things that you can do to support yourself and understanding where you are in that perimenopause journey is really really helpful for understanding what you can do or what's available to you to do or even just how long, how much longer is this potentially going to go on for. So it's another part of my new freebie that I've got for you, The Perimenopause Decoder. We've got all your symptoms to go through and see which ones are impacting you. But I've also put together this nifty little table for you that the different phases of perimenopause. I've talked about the phases of perimenopause in a previous body. And so you can see roughly how long each phase would last for so you can say, Oh, I reckon I'm in this phase, judging by the symptoms that I'm getting. And this is how long it might take there for me to move through to the next phase or move into menopause there as well. Remember, it doesn't have to be horrific. perimenopause does not have to be horrific. The symptoms can be challenging, but there's lots of ways to manage them effectively.

 

10:58

You've heard me talk about food as medicine, lots of times, some lifestyle changes, yes, there's herbs and you'll see lots of them in the health food store in the pharmacy. But please work with someone who knows about herbs and nutrient nutrients so that they can tailor that prescription to you and personalize it to you. And particularly if you are taking hormonal medications or other medications, it's really important that they assess those for you and and what you're having and make sure it's the right dose the right form, but also is it suitable for any medications that you're taking? Is it suitable for what you want it to do? So yeah, just going back to how perimenopause is diagnosed. It's new symptoms, new vasomotor symptoms particularly so that's under changing your pattern of menstrual bleeding, and they'll also consider your age as well. So symptoms that fall into that bracket are things like your heavy periods, PMS, PMS, it's new or worse than than what it has been in your past. Shorter menstrual cycles, longer menstrual cycles, weight gain, exhaustion, irritability, mood swings, brain fog, new intolerances to foods, headaches and migraines there as well to vasomotor a hot flushes and sweats that's kind of later in your perimenopause journey, but it's usually about when your doctor or Western medicine person will start talking about perimenopause with the really early phases. There, they're probably probably not likely to classify you as being in perimenopause. Although from my perspective, you are in early perimenopause, and it's just that your cycle hasn't lengthened in in that way.

 

12:59

So, yeah, hormone testing. As I said, it's not something that's commonly done in perimenopause because your hormones your hormones do fluctuate, you know, from time of day, different days of the week in your cycle. So it's really just one snapshot of that a period in time and it can give lots of information for sure if there's you know, early perimenopause, or PCOS or endo or hormone testing can be useful in those situations. But for perimenopause itself, it's not really necessary to do and it is actually a bit tricky to get it right so that we can get some useful information from it there. So, working with someone who knows about perimenopause is really essential to get an accurate idea of whether it's perimenopause or something else that's making you feel less than your usual peppy self. It's really important to do this and please persist if you get dismissed just because all you're a busy mom in your 40s or that's really normal. It's just perimenopause. Don't worry about it. Ie grit your teeth and bear it. No thanks. Just remember, common doesn't have to equal your normal and perimenopause doesn't have to be horrific. So that's hopefully your two takeaways that you get from hanging out with me. And just while we're finishing up, symptom based assessment is the standard for understanding where you're at in perimenopause. Check out the freebie for this episode in the show notes and it will help you work out what symptoms might be related to perimenopause for you and also what phase of very menopause that you're in.

 

14:39

And hormone testing, as I said a few times now does not necessary in and of itself for perimenopause, some cases it is and it isn't really necessary unless you're having HRT or there's something else that needs further investigating. To judge if you're in perimenopause yourself itself it doesn't be necessary. And so, that is all from me for today. Reminding you perimenopause is not an illness, but a phase of life that is unique to you and your journey will be different from everyone else's. But it doesn't have to be a hard time for you. So hopefully you're gonna take that message with you today and share it with your friends who need to know. So thank you so much for joining me and listening and sharing your time with me. I always value that you've done that and I applaud you for wanting to learn more about your body and your health because it's really empowering for you you get to take charge of your health then and you get to decide or you get to steer the ship into your the next phase of life and you get to decide how you age and how you feel as you age.

 

15:49

Don't forget that you can find the show notes. today's freebie super special new freebie and much more on the website at www.chaostocalmpodcast.com and until our next podcast episode remember it is really possible to master the chaos of your changing hormones mood, metabolism and energy and make it to menopause without it wrecking your life or relationships.

 

16:24

 It's really common for women over 40 to experience the chaos of changing hormones, mood, metabolism and energy. But I hope you know now that common doesn't have to equal normal for you or them. You can help others understand that aren't alone in feeling this way. And that perimenopause doesn't have to be horrific by subscribing, leaving a review and sharing this podcast with other women in their 40s and beyond. Thanks so much for listening and sharing your time with me today in this chaos to calm conversation.