My Perimenopause (and Menopause) Experience So Far

My Perimenopause (and Menopause) Experience So Far | Not Dressed As Lamb, Over 40 Fashion and Lifestyle Blog

I knew I’d be writing this at some point: part one of my menopause journey. Or should I call it an ordeal?

As I write this I’m itching at the minuscule plaster still in the crook of my elbow, stuck there after yet another blood test was taken this morning at the doctor’s surgery.

In a nutshell, I have felt like SHIT for ages now. It’s the best (and only) way to describe it. One of two things has happened: I’ve either got something quite wrong with me health-wise, or perimenopause has hit me like a [freight] train. And by that, I mean a train that’s been waiting for me at the station for a while now. It’s been on the departures board for ages but they’d not yet announced the platform number.

I think that the platform number was announced sometime around Autumn 2021. And without warning… WHAM. The ‘Destination Menopause’ train left the station and hit me with everything it had. Okay, I’m done with the train analogies.

 

[6 mins reading time]

 

And when I say something wrong health-wise, it’s both physical and mental. One affects the other in a neverending circle of wanton viciousness. I’ve been to the doctor and with everything that’s going on, she’s a little worried too… hence, the blood tests. We’re ruling things out first.

So I want to know if there IS any sort of underlying health issue because recently I’ve got to the stage of “All of this can’t be perimenopause, can it? ALL these issues?”. I don’t want to leave all my various ailments to chance by saying “Oh darling, it’s just the change of life” – and then finding out that it was actually something else (quite serious) that’s caught me out in the 12 months leading up to my 50th birthday.

Never in a million years did I think I’d ever feel this shit in my life (I thought that when my mental health was poor it was bad enough). And here’s a caveat… I’ve used the word shit A LOT in this post. Let’s just say I’m talking shit here ; -)

 

Lethargy, low mood, and out-of-control weight gain

Without wanting this post to be too depressing (sorry!), I’ll talk briefly about how I’ve felt and what’s been wrong. And then I’ll address perimenopause. Gird your loins…

In the last nine months or so, this is what’s been happening/how I’ve felt:

  • Constant, extreme lethargy. Lethargy like I’ve never experienced before ever. I wake up with zero energy every single day.
  • Rapid weight gain: I’m talking serious, it’s-frightening-me weight gain… for someone who’s been generally slim all her adult life – with a pretty small frame (skinny wrists, boney back) – I gained nearly three stone (38lbs/17kg) in six months. This, and the lethargy, is what I’m having all the blood tests for. And it doesn’t seem to be letting up.
  • Injury after injury: my leg pain is back whenever I exercise, my tennis elbow has gone from the right elbow to the left, and I’ve been seeing the chiropractor for a pulled neck/shoulder that has taken an eternity to get better. I’ve also seen him twice lately for a particular muscle that likes to give me stabbing pains in my lower back.
  • Feeling like I’ve been pummelled all over any time I walk. I get back from a 30-minute walk absolutely shattered. Shin splints, aching joints, tendonitis in my feet, lung capacity non-existent. This time last year I was hiking up steep hills for hours. This year, I’ve had to forgo walking up my lovely local hill for the flat and it’s STILL killing me.
  • A general mood that’s so low I can’t even remember what it’s like to feel really happy anymore. It’s like I’m in a constant daze (I guess that’s the brain fog) that makes contentment an impossible, unreachable goal.

So far, an underactive thyroid has been ruled out (it wasn’t even borderline, it was completely normal). And a few other things like my liver, but it was my thyroid that I really thought was causing the weight gain. An underactive thyroid apparently also causes injuries to take a long time to heal – after both a friend and my chiropractor mentioned the possibility of thyroid issues I put the two together. It honestly would have explained everything… so I’m baffled.

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Ergo, more blood tests this morning, and next is an appointment to see the doctor in person.

And in case anyone is wondering: no, I don’t eat takeaways every night. (I can’t even remember the last time we got a takeaway.) Yes, I’m capable of eating several biscuits in one sitting and yes, I’ll always have a slice of cake when offered – but this is only ever at other people’s houses. I don’t drink fizzy drinks or wine (EVER), I rarely keep snacks in the house. I’m also well aware that some healthy foods – a huge fruit salad with mango, pineapple and melon, or a large handful of dried fruit and nuts – are calorie-dense. I know that large quantities of those things, eaten on a regular basis, are going to lead to weight gain.

So yeah – I’m no saint/health freak, but my “base” diet is pretty balanced with lots of veg and some fruit (mostly berries and apples), little to no red meat and reasonably devoid of saturated fat. I just add naughty stuff on top, and often eat too late at night.

 

My perimenopause symptoms – so far

Obviously, there are a few things that I know for a fact are down to perimenopause. My periods haven’t stopped but they last barely two days and can be anything from 19 to 32 days in between. Their erratic nature is (WA-HAY!) sooooo much fun.

My worse symptom so far has been the night sweats. They were THE WORST. I’d go to bed freezing cold, then wake up in the early hours so overheated and drenched that my fingers were often severely WRINKLED from resting them on my tummy or chest in all that soaking, dripping sweat for hours. (Apologies if that’s TMI but you may as well know the extent of how bad they were.) I had to sleep on a thick towel to prevent the sheets from needing to be changed every day.

And all the other health issues? I don’t know whether I can attribute them to perimenopause, circumstances – or both. One thing that WAS positive, though: I saw my GP earlier this year and she prescribed HRT [patches] straight away for me, no questions asked.

(Well, apart from the usual ones she’s pretty much obligated to ask as my general practitioner, but let’s just say that, unlike some stories I’ve heard about GPs, all the battle gear and tactics I’d prepared for the fight to get HRT weren’t needed. I wondered if it helped that she’s female and roughly my age? It’d be interesting to know in the comments what your experiences of asking for HRT were and what age/gender your GP is.)

Long ‘going onto HRT’ story short: I’ve been using the patches for about three months now, and the night sweats stopped almost immediately. An occasional hot, slightly sweaty night, but nothing like the previous tsunamis of perspiration I’d experienced before.

However, my low mood continued… in fact, it may even have got worse. Therefore, I wanted to investigate more than just blaming it all on perimenopause, especially as I’d heard so many women saying that HRT made them feel like a new woman.

Me? I felt worse than ever. Not because I was taking HRT, but it just wasn’t helping.

 

Other factors

There are so many other factors that can easily be attributed to why I’m feeling so low at rock bottom. Without wanting to sound dramatic or depressing [er, too late Catherine…], it’s all become a bit much lately. I’ve had some awful skin issues which crescendoed in the worst-ever eczema attack that had me climbing the walls due to the itchiness and pain. I’ve had eczema before, but it was never as bad as this. A common cause of eczema is stress, so it’s hardly surprising that my ears, neck and chest decided to erupt in a flaming, itchy expanse of sore red skin and flakiness because YES, stress has been abundant.

All the other shit that’s been going down lately:

  • Earning almost zero income this year (it’s been on the wain since before the pandemic) and resulting money worries. I think this is my number one worry. Pre-pandemic I’d work on about two campaigns a month, so far this year I’ve had two campaigns total.
  • Not being able to go anywhere or do anything due to said loss of income (we can’t afford a meal out, let alone a holiday).
  • Elderly parents are a constant worry (one with dementia and the other not fit and well enough to be a full-time carer, aged 93 and 88 respectively).
  • A canine daughter that seems to be getting injured as much as her mother. We’re currently on a serious Achilles injury after a pulled back, a split paw and a broken claw, one after the other. One injury gets better, and another thing happens. This is also a strain on our finances.
  • A house that’s in a bit of a state because I’m too lethargic to tackle housework with any sort of gusto.
  • Not being able to fit into any clothes that I’d deem “nice” and hence not being able to afford anything new (so sweatpants or stretchy leggings every day it is). Necklaces and anything with a neckline higher than the scoopiest of scoop necks are irritating the hell out of my eczema-riddled décolletage, so “a nice top” isn’t possible either. FEELING shit because you LOOK like shit is inevitable.
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I’m sure I don’t need to go on.. you get my drift. Looking over at what I’ve written down seems like I’m being dramatic, but really, I just want to be given a break SOMEWHERE. Anywhere.

 

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So is this perimenopause, depression, or something else?

This is what I’m hoping to find out at my doctor’s appointment – or, at least, rule something serious out first. Maybe I’m downplaying my perimenopause symptoms. Maybe I’m downplaying (possible) depression. As mentioned in my post last year about how my mental health was getting a lot better, I don’t think I’m someone who is predisposed to depression. I still maintain I’m a glass-half-full kind of person, but even glass-almost-full people will be broken at some point.

Edit 25/06/2022 ~ A few people have asked – here and privately – if I’ve had Covid. Without wanting to jinx myself(!): no, I haven’t. Which quite surprises me as just about everyone I know (with the exception of family with whom I’ve had the most contact) has had it. So that’s definitely not a contributing factor.

When you’re feeling physically shit it’s really, really hard to maintain a sunny disposition. It making you feel negative mentally is unavoidable (I wrote about that last year: how my mental health is inextricably linked to my physical health and fitness).

At the moment I’m keeping an open mind as to what it is I’m going through. Perimenopause? Very likely. Self-inflicted? Quite possibly. Something more serious and underlying? Hopefully not, but at least we’re looking into it.

I’ll keep you updated.

Any of my symptoms sound familiar to you – for either you or a loved one? Let me know in the comments box below, then check out all my other posts featuring my mental health or general health and beauty.

 

Stay safe XOXO

Catherine signature

 

P.S. I started writing this about 10 days ago and am currently at the detox retreat in North Devon which I’ve been to a few times before (it works wonders for both my physical and mental health). Although I mentioned our money worries I managed to sort something out to be able to go, it’s not something I need to explain (the bank I robbed didn’t need the money anyway 😉 ). When I write the follow-up to this I’ll of course write about how I got on during and after my stay – as well as what the doctor said…

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49 Comments

  1. 13 July 2022 / 10:34 am

    I’m very sorry you feel this way. I’m going to have the same feelings like you. But everything will be fine! Be kind to yourself.

  2. Emma
    10 July 2022 / 11:42 am

    Omg this is like reading my own blog if I’d written one!! So sick and tired of feeling ill and catching every single bug going. I’ve been off work for 3 months and I’ve only just gone back to catch Covid for the third time. Thank you for being so open and honest as sometimes you feel so alone with it all. Please keep sharing and I hope you get some answers

  3. 9 July 2022 / 5:39 pm

    When I was 46 or so, I started having perimenopause symptoms. Not severe, just annoying. I went to my gynocologist for my yearly exam, and mentioned this to him.
    I told him I think it would be much worse, if it wasn’t for the antidrepressant I’d been taking for 20 years (not for depression, for things that we finally figured out were homonal caused).
    You’ve mentioned depression, has anyone considered giving you some?

    I’m 64 now, and my reaction to menopause has been mild, again because of the antidepressant.
    I sincerely hope you get to the point that menopause is merely a nuisance

  4. 6 July 2022 / 2:11 am

    Dang it! I hate seeing you are going through this. I, too, have been in the bowels of hormonal hell for the last 4 years. I use a ton of supplements to deal with all the symptoms, and black cohosh, along with several others, has alleviated the hot flashes. My mood is ridiculous unless I take amino acids and antidepressants. I take testosterone, but progesterone made me certifiably insane, so no progesterone or estrogen for me. They do make homeopathic progesterone and estrogen. I have been referred to Theresa Dale online for these products. I highly recommend a group on Facebook called Estrogen Dominance Support, and it’s run by a lady named Kitty Martone. It has saved my ass–more good information than you can shake a stick at. She recommends taking basal body temperature in the morning to ascertain if thyroid is really optimal. Is your dr. taking a full thyroid panel including Reverse T3, Free T3, Free T4, Total T4, thyroid antibodies, and TSH? TSH alone won’t tell you how your body is actually doing. Try reading a website called Stop the Thyroid Madness, just google it, sorry can’t recall what it is right off hand. Everything you are saying sounds like me when my thyroid isn’t optimal. I, too, have had all the skin nonsense, and having gut tests with a naturopath has helped pinpoint what has been happening with my gut. When the gut is out of whack, then the skin goes batshit. Also, being estrogen dominant causes histamine issues. If you can get it, a product called Ultra GI Replenish made by a company called Metagenics will help your gut immensely, and you could get a lot of relief from the skin problems using it. I know it helps me a ton when my histamine acts up and skin gets kooky. I know I’m writing a book here, but I hate seeing you suffer so. It’s horrible to be someone who enjoys life and is healthy, then hormones damn near destroy all the good in life. Everyone says we will get through it, so I guess we will. Please keep us updated; I love your blog and your sense of humor. I sure hope you feel better soon!

  5. Peri
    3 July 2022 / 9:47 am

    Hang in there. It eventually gets better. I had thyroid cancer, had my thyroid removed and two rounds of radiation treatment. The second treatment caused full on peri-menopause symptoms. Panic attacks, restlessness and I would sweat regardless of the temperature. I remember being in Austria in winter and feeling sweat dripping down my back. I was on a high dose of thyroid medication and hrt was not an option. I really lost my way for a couple of years. I also went from a slim body to putting on a lot of weight. I also hat a lot of physical problems, joint pain and general feeling always exhausted and overwhelmed with everything. I was very conscious of always sweating and having to choose my clothes to camouflage it.
    I read a lot about peri-menopause and it took forever for me to find my way. I have made a lot of live style changes and it is still a work in progress but I have got my hope back. I am gradually improving and although I am not quite ready for hiking in the alps yet I can now tacke a hill walk again. The extra weight is still there but I have stopped gaining and think if I continue with my current eating habits and continue walking I should be able to gradually shift the excess kilos.
    The best thing is not having a period!

  6. Jess
    3 July 2022 / 9:44 am

    Hi Catherine, sorry to hear about the tough time you’ve been having. A few people have mentioned auto-immune diseases like crohns or rheumatoid arthritis which your doctor might be able to see through blood tests. Anyway, if anything like that does come up please look into the Auto Immune Protocal which I’ve been doing for the past year. It’s helped me immensely with pain, fatigue my mental health.
    Also, I highly recommend seeing a naturopath. Doctors have their place but when they can’t find answers I have found that a good naturopath has helped me more than the doctors and also in a gentle natural way that means I can sustain my health as I get older.
    Wishing you all the best with whatever you find

  7. 30 June 2022 / 10:11 pm

    Sounds horrific. Gentle yoga really helps and I’m not talking the “stretch and hold” rubbish thats around. Yoga cooling breaths are a godsend to use on a daily basis. I’m a yoga teacher, so I knew what to do back in The Days Of Yore when I went through all of this. Nevertheless, the weight still piled on (sigh). My periods were so painfully dreadful…. yeah, you know all of this no doubt. Your symptoms are really full on….. keep getting checked out for various things.

    • Catherine
      Author
      1 July 2022 / 6:46 pm

      Thank you Ratnamurti… yes I totally agree about yoga. It’s one of the things I want to get back to – I’m pretty good at some of the poses and I really want to keep up that flexibility till my old age, it’s just been so difficult with injury after injury affecting every small movement I make with searing pain. And yes, I promise I will continue with the investigations…! 🙂

  8. karen
    26 June 2022 / 8:37 pm

    Some of your symptoms – low mood, lack of energy, pain in your body – sound like fibromyalgia, a stress-related illness that can be difficult to diagnose. I was eventually diagnosed a few years ago after leaving a stressful job, but it took a while and just the right consultant to recognise the symptoms who asked ‘Did anything significant happen in your life when the symptoms started?’ Worth considering, or asking. So sorry you’re feeling this way.

    • Catherine
      Author
      1 July 2022 / 6:47 pm

      That’s very interesting you mention fibromyalgia Karen as others have mentioned it here – it’s something I will consider and look into more. Once the weight (hopefully) starts to shift it’ll be easier to see whether it’s all weight gain-related or something more: fingers crossed the lethargy starts to subside and the energy returns soon. Thank you xx

  9. Elizabeth
    26 June 2022 / 8:55 am

    I have read your blog a long time but this is my first time commenting. For the past 2 years I have been on a emotional and rollercoaster of grief and perimenopause never knowing which symptom is because of what. Sometimes I am a blob on the sofa eating all the things that bring short term comfort but longer term I know are no good for me. A few days/weeks later I can be all smoothies and long walks. The honesty in your posts has always brought me, and I am sure others, comfort. The kindness of those that comment reminds me of the strength of women – holding others up when they need it. I hope you get some answers soon but in the meantime, thank you to you and those who comment for your honest and kindness.

    • Catherine
      Author
      1 July 2022 / 6:50 pm

      Aww Elizabeth thank you so much for commenting…! What you described is exactly what I’m like: when the injuries get better I go on a bit of a “health bender” to try and make up for the lethargy and pains the rest of the time. I need to catch a break of some sort of sustained good health, I’m sure you feel the same!

      And yes I agree with what you said about the kindness and strength of the women here: it’s the reason I’m still hanging on in there with the blogging after 11 years <3

  10. 25 June 2022 / 12:27 am

    Catherine, I am so sorry for everything you are going through. I did not read all of the other comments, so maybe some of these things have already been mentioned. Have you had Covid? There are multiple, long term side affects including fatigue, lethargy, and neurological problems. There are also multiple long term side affects from the vaccine. Another idea is a disease called Hashimoto Syndrome. It has to do with the thyroid, but I do not know for sure if it is detectable with the normal thyroid test. It can affect weight, energy, mental health and so on.

    My daughter has been having a plethora of problems for several years now with symptoms like pain, fatigue, neurological issues and more. She has several autoimmune problems including Celiac disease and recently she was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. There are so many issues out there and sometimes it takes forever to get to the bottom of it. I don’t think it is all in your head and I don’t think it is all menopause related.

    I pray you will find some answers soon and that you will start to feel better again. Until then, give yourself grace and recognize that, yes you are in a “shitty” season right now. Do what you can and accept what you can’t. Focus on one small task at a time.

    Last year I had a long term illness that I just could not get any answers too. I saw doctor after doctor. I was in and out of urgent cares and er’s getting chest x-rays and CT scans. In the end I was diagnosed with a staff infection in my sinuses and asthma. I now use an inhaler and a nose spray. I never wanted to be medication dependent, but here I am. I was really sick and now I am so thankful I can breath and I can do things that I used to do. I do have more fatigue and I am sure in addition to the physical issues, I am struggling to adjust mentally to the changes as well. All that to say, you are not alone!

    Keep pushing until you find answers. If you can’t find a friend or loved one who can advocate for you. Sometimes we just can’t do it ourselves. Praying you will find answers and a process to regain your health soon.

    Amy

    • Catherine
      Author
      1 July 2022 / 6:54 pm

      Amy thank you so much for your comments – but no, I haven’t had Covid… I don’t want to jinx myself by saying that(!), but I’d definitely be considering that as a factor if I had. You and some others have mentioned fibromyalgia so it’s something I’m looking into at the moment.

      I’m so glad you’re feeling better after what sounds like a nightmare of a time with your health… safe to say it really sucks, doesn’t it?! Thank you for the love xx

  11. 24 June 2022 / 8:29 pm

    Thank you for sharing this post sweetie!

    Danielle | thereluctantblogger.co.uk

    • Catherine
      Author
      1 July 2022 / 6:54 pm

      Thanks Danielle, hopefully the discussion will help prepare younger women in the years up to menopause… I wish *I* had been more prepared…!

  12. 24 June 2022 / 3:02 pm

    Hi Catherine! I read all the time but almost never comment. (HI). I am 47 and I can relate to the night sweats/ hot flashes and the weird periods – mine are super light and after having long cycles my whole life, now I get my period every 3-3 1/2 weeks. I wondered if you have ever read The Menopause Manifesto by Jen Gunter? It’s such a great resource and also talks about moods, HRT, and everything else. I think weight gain is fairly typical but that seems like a lot in a short amount of time and I wonder if there is something else, something not related to menopause. I hope you get it figured out and that you feel better soon.

    • Catherine
      Author
      1 July 2022 / 7:00 pm

      Nicole thank you – yes you can see why I was in a bit of a panic talking to my doctor when you consider how quickly the weight went on?! I haven’t had any hot flushes [yet], but weirdly I used to get them in my teens and 20s, that sort of redfaced/hot cheeks thing. It stopped sometime in my 30s, and oddly I hadn’t thought about how I used to get them till people talked about hot flushes as I approached perimenopause age.

      I haven’t read that book – I’m reading another at the moment (Your Hormone Doctor: Be healthier, happier, sexier and slimmer at any age by Susie Rogers and Dr Daniel Sister) so I’ll take a look at that once I’ve read this one.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it…! x

  13. 24 June 2022 / 2:20 pm

    Catherine, so sorry to hear this. I, like most midlife women can nod and totally empathise. You are dealing with a lot, then all these bloody symptoms on top. I had a terrible perimenopause . The blood tests did show I had an under active Thyroid. I honestly thought I was going insane, as did my hubby who was living with an alien at the time, ha ha. I think a few have mentioned Dr Louise Newsom, who is an expert in this field and may help – as I find knowledge is key and thankfully we are past the bad old days when the GP’s are forever telling us to come off HRT. I hope you are enjoying your stay, and return feeling refreshed.
    Alison xx

    • Catherine
      Author
      1 July 2022 / 7:06 pm

      Ahh that’s interesting what you said about having an underactive thyroid, Alison – honestly I was convinced my tests would show mine to be the same, the symptoms described everything I was going through?!

      I’m actually following Dr Louise Newson on IG, but annoyingly she doesn’t show up so I need to do some liking etc. to get her to show up in my curated feed. I’m off for a second week at the retreat next week so hopefully things will start shifting very soon… thank you lovely! x

  14. Tracy
    24 June 2022 / 1:30 pm

    Sounds like fibromyalgia which I was diagnosed with in 2018.

  15. 24 June 2022 / 8:12 am

    That’s awful! I’m sorry you have to go through this, I hope the retreat helps you feel better.
    xoxo
    Lovely

  16. Laoise McManus
    23 June 2022 / 10:46 pm

    Hi Catherine.

    I felt so much for you reading this. I can relate to so much of it and can hear how beaten and distressed you feel.

    I’m a clinical psychologist and work exclusively with people who experience long term, debilitating physical health conditions (and being in perimenopause myself, I feel this fits squarely in that category).

    If you’ve not already seen them, you may find Russ Harris’ book “The Happiness Trap” and “Living with the Enemy” by Ray Owen to be helpful reads.

    I have read and loved your blog for years. I really enjoy your content and admire your honesty in sharing your struggles and using the platform you have to help other women.

    So thank you, for your work and your talent and for your courage in sharing the vulnerability you feel now.

    Laoise

  17. Kathy
    23 June 2022 / 2:32 pm

    Yes Catherine. I completely understand how you are feeling. My last period was 14 years ago when I was 53 and almost immediately I felt like I crashed and burned. I had what is known as crashing fatigue. Someone turned off my energy switch. I was absolutely exhausted. I had 30 to 40 hot flashes a day, and sometimes had cold flashes where I could not get warm no matter how many blankets I piled on. I had muscle pain and experienced many episodes of PVCs. All of this sent me to the doctor. I was sent to a cardiologist for a complete workup and eventually was mis-diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I – not my doctors – eventually figured out that all of my nasty symptoms were caused by menopause. I went on hormone patches for 2 years and felt a lot better. Then my insurance company decided they’d no longer pay for them. I weaned off of the patches and then got severe rebound hot flashes for my trouble. Apparently, this is common. Supposedly by 3 years after discontinuing the hormones, the symptoms disappear. Not for me. At the 5 year mark I finally found a new gynecologist and requested going back on HRT. That was in January 2019. I was 64 at the time and still having a lot of unpleasant menopausal symptoms. Between Jan. 2019 and Sept. 2021 my dose of hormones was raised 5 (!) times. The doctor tried me on three different low dose birth control pills first. They did virtually nothing for the hot flashes and led to spotting. She finally decided I needed traditional HRT. Last fall I asked if I could have the dose doubled. She agreed and I now finally can count the number of hot flashes I have in a week on one hand instead of in a single night. Read Estrogen Matters by Avrum Bluming and Carol Tavris. It was eye opening for me and what led me to decide I needed to go back on HRT.

  18. 23 June 2022 / 11:13 am

    Oh lovely Catherine, I’m so sorry you are experiencing such a crap time. So many things here resonate with me, but I ended up being diagnosed with Fibroids and it wasn’t anything to do with the menopause – apparently I’m too young (47 this year) which I think is bollocks. But anyway, let’s hope the bloods and other tests come back with a answer for you and you get sorted soon x

  19. Alison
    23 June 2022 / 4:27 am

    Hi. Sounds like a lot to have going on. My one suggestion is have they checked you for Iron overload ie Haemochromatosis. I had some similar issues and that turned out to be a big part of my problem esp the lethargy and muscle aches. Triggered by menopause as the Iron is no longer being controlled by regular periods.
    Just a suggestion as sometimes its not picked up in women until quite symptomatic.
    Feel better soon.

  20. Michelle Springer
    23 June 2022 / 1:55 am

    There is so much of this that I can relate to- my cycle is all over the dang place and it seems like Mom can’t quite catch a break health wise. I’m working a lot right now and my self care is non existent. I’m feeling burnt out and crabby.
    I also think it’s time to get my health in order as well,

    Know that you aren’t alone and I’m wishing the best for us all.

  21. Renee D
    22 June 2022 / 8:27 pm

    Oh yes. I’m 52 and since late November 2021 have just *tanked*. I managed to cruise through the first 2 years of the pandemic but it finally caught up with me. Couldn’t really tell if it was pandemic fatigue, seasonal depression, familial illness, best friend getting diagnosed with a whole lotta cancer, perimenopause, etc.. Mentally disorganized, emotionally on edge, couldn’t hold a thought in my head or focus on anything for long. I had been managing sleep problems and anxiety the last few years with lavendar oil capsules and CBD, but finally got myself on a sertraline prescription and wow, life is so much more manageable for me. A lot of things still suck, but they don’t undo me, and I have more energy, focus and motivation.

    I don’t know how the NHS works but if you can get a specialist to look at your thryoid I would because that all sounds textbook (I also have thyroid issues) and sometimes what is “normal” for others is simply not enough for someone else. And have them check your parathyroid, too, because that can *really* mess you up. A friend who was suicidally depressed and not terribly rational was found to have a nodule on his parathryoid and once removed he went right back to his old self (occasional blues but nothing catastrophic).

    It was good to hear your voice. Thank you for sharing. You are Not Alone.

  22. Randi McAllister
    22 June 2022 / 7:50 pm

    I just turned 71. I went through menopause in my 50’s and I hated it. I was working and sometimes I would flash at work. I remember my secretary saying “you have bright red spots on your face” and I would go to the restroom and run cool water on my face. I did not use hormone cream. I just ruffed it out. The best part was not having periods anymore!
    Although after about a year, I had a period which scared me, but after that they were gone! Someone then told me “this can last 20 years”! WHAT???
    The weight gain happened and I am still overweight which is depressing in itself.

    I am so sorry you are going through this and I hope you get sorted out soon. Good that you are getting worked up to rule out anything else! Eat healthy, get rest, and mild exercise. Try not to fight it.
    God bless you,
    Randi from California

  23. 22 June 2022 / 7:44 pm

    Oh Catherine how awful. You have a lot of stress and all these shit symptoms on top. I had a terrible perimenopause but different symptoms (no sweats but irrational and paranoid). HRT solved the problems. It could be, as someone else suggested, your HRT is wrong. You might need Testosterone. It is possible to get it. Suggest you get Dr Louise Newson’s book, she is also on IG and has a podcast. I’m no expert but your symptoms seem broader than just menopause. Hope your stay is going well even though you’ve got a bad back xx

  24. Michelle
    22 June 2022 / 7:19 pm

    Wow – that is a lot to get hit with at once. I’m so sorry you are being pummeled from all sides, and I hope you get some relief (and answers) soon. I’ve got a parent with dementia too, and it’s so heartbreaking to go through. Hugs to you, Catherine.

    I’m 53 and in full menopause now, and yes, I can relate to so much that you have written. It started with terrible hot flashes a few years ago. I read up on menopause/perimenopause and discovered that certain foods (alcohol, caffeine, sugar and gluten were the big 4, but there were others) and vitamin deficiencies can be the culprit. Taking a multivitamin for women over 50 (had to experiment with a few first – some made things worse) and limiting triggering foods helped to the point where I didn’t need any medical intervention. I’ve been unable to keep weight off for about 4 years now, which is really demoralizing. I don’t feel like myself. Over the past year the brain fog, lethargy and depression have kicked in, and it is hell. Interesting you should mention decrease in lung capacity – I’ve had that too and thought it was dehydration, but maybe not? I’m not sure if I’m going to seek medical help beyond having bloodwork done to see if I’m lacking in any more nutrients, and maybe see a nutritionist. I hate doctors.

    As for the eczema – have you been tested for allergies? My daughter suffered from eczema since she was a baby. She got diagnosed with a mild soy allergy last year and since she took soy out of her diet the eczema totally disappeared.

    I hope that your retreat refreshes you!

  25. Kelly Novak Montano
    22 June 2022 / 6:56 pm

    Rule out everything else, if it is hormones you will survive. It is literally a bitch to get through but I promise you, you will come out the other side and be fabulous. I’m 63 and at 52 I had my year of total hell, give or take a year or two before and after…..(migraines, hot flashes, horrible mood swings, crazy thoughts, sleep deprived, so tired I couldn’t stay awake, crying for no reason, weight fluctuation of 10 lbs, ect. ect.) I tried hormones and they put me over the edge. Progesterone for me was the culprit it made me insane. So I decided to just go cold turkey. I still have hot flashes and my gyno says that’s impossible, I stopped my periods at 57. Well it’s not impossible because I’m living it. So much better now. Loving life, feeling stable and trying not to sweat the small stuff. I’m on the other side now so everyday is a blessing. You will get through this, stay positive and don’t make any important decisions for the next 5 years (that’s kinda of a joke, but nothing rash you know). Much love.

  26. Lieve
    22 June 2022 / 6:23 pm

    Hi Catherine, recognized all your symptoms: night sweats, weight gain (10 kg after being slim all my life), depression, injury upon injury… HRT really only helped with the night sweats. I”ve asked for testosterone patches bcs of low libido and my gynaecologist prescribed …a lubricant 🙁 I feel ugly and depressed bcs of the extra kilos and being too unfit to do sth about it. Did not like my job before and positively hate it now . So I totally get why your low mood does not go away that easily. Am still hoping this too shall pass…

  27. Dianne
    22 June 2022 / 5:48 pm

    Omg!! Thank you for sharing. I’m 57 & been on HRT (klicovance) for 5 years. It’s helped with the anxiety & taken edge off night sweats but I still had issues – itchy skin, swelling legs & weight gain. I had a blood test & have an under active thyroid now under control with tablets. Still got the weight though. Take care x

  28. Heather
    22 June 2022 / 5:09 pm

    I went through menopause a few years ago and I can relate. I never had night sweats and only had a couple hot flashes, but the weight gain was BAD. I also suffered horribly from insomnia, which probably fueled the weight gain and general lethargy as well. I had “frozen shoulder” twice, on each shoulder, and all kinds of crazy foot pain. I also went to the doctor looking for answers but I too was healthy. The good news is now that my periods have been gone for a few years the problems have for the most part disappeared. I’ll probably never be as slim I’d like but I have lost a lot of the weight I gained. I sleep well most of the time. Energy is ok. So there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

  29. Danielle
    22 June 2022 / 5:06 pm

    Dear Catherine

    I’m sorry to hear how awful you feel. I completely understand – been there, done that. My menopause was brought on suddenly by cancer treatment and I can honestly say, even taking out all the cancer s**t, it was the worst 5 years of my life. Horrendous day and night sweats – tick. 3 stone weight gain in a year – tick. Brain fog/depression/lack of focus/confidence/direction – tick. …..I could go on!

    I am also self-employed so understand how you are feeling. Pilates instructor who ached so much and was so tired she had to stop doing it for 12 months.

    2 things – it might be worth getting a private thyroid test ( though I appreciate there is a cost involved). Apparently, what general medicine deems to be normal is not always the case and more than one test needs to be done to assess over time. Chemotherapy actually gave me hyperthyroidism and the resultant drugs have now made my thyroid sluggish .

    And secondly, know that it will get better ❤. I now feel heaps better, more stable, happier. I couldn’t take HRT but I understand it may be a case of trying several.

    I do hope that you get the answers you need very soon – sending big hugs. x

  30. 22 June 2022 / 4:11 pm

    I’m not quite there yet…but I have noticed things changing, like my hair falls out at a higher rate (luckily I’ve got LOADS of it!), and my skin isn’t as good as it was. The wrinkles are starting to set in too. As for night sweats, I’ve had a few mild ones, and occasionally feel down. The one thing lately that has affected me though is lethargy. But I’m putting that down to having Covid in May. Have you had Covid, Catherine? I did wonder if some of your symptoms might be related to that? I do hope you can get it all under control, and that you start to feel better really quickly. It sounds bloody awful!
    Big hugs
    Suzy xx

  31. Jullie
    22 June 2022 / 4:08 pm

    Thank you for sharing and sorry to hear how bad things are at the moment, I hope you get some resolution soon.

    At 52 I am through perimenopause and squarely in menopause territory. I have had some of the symptoms usually described but on the whole have got off quite lightly.

    One thing I did suffer from is persistent cystitis type symptoms (along with vaginal dryness). I was a little bit nervous about taking an oral HRT having been on the contraceptive pill for more than 20 years. Instead my GP prescribed me a vaginal suppository (vagifem) which I use once or twice a week and which has addressed the cystitis. For reference I am in Canada.

  32. Caroline Roberts
    22 June 2022 / 3:30 pm

    I absolutely understand how you’re feeling. I’ve had a mare of a perimenopause. What may be helpful re medication is that patches don’t work for everyone. I was on sandrena gel and tried patches and symptoms came back horribly. So I’m on a really really high dose of oestrogen plus testosterone (latter I get privately) and eat a huge amount of protein, about 100-120g a day. Without all of these, I am a wreck. Sending so much love xxx

    • Michelle
      22 June 2022 / 7:23 pm

      Hi Caroline – what is the extra protein for? Always curious about how diet affects health. Thanks!

      • Caroline Roberts
        9 July 2022 / 8:32 am

        The decline in estrogen from menopause is linked to decreased muscle mass and bone strength. Therefore you need to eat more protein. It can also support weight loss goals as protein makes you fuller for longer. I’ve had to adjust my diet in menopause.

  33. Heide V
    22 June 2022 / 3:29 pm

    I am so sorry to hear how tough things have been for you, praying by now you have some answers and solutions! I don’t know that this is anything, but it’s worth a shot to mention, at any rate….years ago my health was in shambles, and it turned out the root of all my physical issues at the time was Candida. Undiagnosed for many years, and quite common, it can pack a serious punch. Sharing that in hopes that you get answers <3

  34. Biba
    22 June 2022 / 3:25 pm

    Hi Catherine,

    Yes all of those things (and much more) can definitely be perimenopause unfortunately. I went through years of unnecessary tests and procedures that found nothing, before I finally realised I needed HRT. Neurologist, MRI’s, Gastroenterologist, scopes, Urologist etc. It was a living nightmare. It’s possible you’re still not feeling that great on HRT because it’s the wrong preparation or dose for you. 5 years on I’m still tweaking my regimes but I wouldn’t give it up for anything. Avoid synthetic progestins (like in your patch) at all costs if you can. They are often to blame for mood issues (and sometimes weight gain). It’s what my GP gave me first too. Utrogestan is the gold standard now for the progesterone component of HRT and to a lesser extent the Mirena coil, if that’s acceptable to you. Mirena allows you to experience the positive aspects of estrogen without the progesterone symptoms so many people experience. I choose to stick with Utrogestan (which is also wonderful for sleep), because I don’t want a coil. I use a combination of Estradot patches and/or Oestrogel depending on availability. I had a frozen shoulder while on a patch until I increased my estrogen dose and it went away as did all my joint aches. You could also look into testosterone (often only available through gynaecologist) for energy issues but it will only be prescribed if you stress low libido. I’m under the care of an NHS gynaecologist with menopause specialty and if you request that from your GP they can’t refuse you. I hope you find something that suits you and makes you feel better x

  35. 22 June 2022 / 3:23 pm

    I’m very sorry you feel this way. I’m 55 and have hot flashes since 6 years. A few months ago I had enough of it, abs also enough of my depression and asked for hormone pills. My GP is a woman my age. They helped for the hot flashes, but my body was killing me with pain. So now I stopped for 3 days and hoping that the pain will go away. I also asked for a medical psychologic therapist. With all the problems that you have, I would try that too. Wishing you all the luck.

  36. 22 June 2022 / 3:20 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear this has flattened you, Catherine. I got off comparatively easy with menopause 10 years ago, but a friend had a similar experience to yours. I figured things were bad as I’ve missed seeing your regular posts. Very glad you’re chasing down all the possible medical things – this huge range of issues makes me think of autoimmune diseases, etc., but hoping your NHS can sort it all out (without bankrupting you, as would happen over here…) I am sending you the very best of hopes, prayers, good karma (choose as many as necessary) and all that jazz. In the meantime, kudos for going back to your wellness retreat – doing all the right stuff!
    Cheers,
    Mary Katherine

  37. Paule
    22 June 2022 / 3:15 pm

    Hi, I am fan of your blog for some time. Thanks a lot of sharing. I am feeling that im transitioning to perimenopause since my last pregnancy. I experience very similar shivering from cold before falling asleep and waking up in sweat. I found that very low carb approach helped me. Did you every try keto diet? It has reduced nightly sweats for me significantly and helped to stop the weight gain.

  38. 22 June 2022 / 3:14 pm

    You’re not alone. No one told us it was going to be as bad as it is. I’m 74 now and in my late 40s I started with the severe hot flashes, lack of sleep, and weight gain of 20 lbs. after weighing pretty much the same my entire adult life. Had thorough medical and naturopathic workups. Seven years on HRT took care of the sweats and sleeping issues but the 20 lbs never did and never will go away. And, the good news? It’s not a one or two-year process. Symptoms can last 20 years. No one told me that!!! A recent article in The Guardian about Cheryl Sandberg having the same problems won’t change what you’re going through but will reassure you that it’s just life. I packed in working at 57 because I was burned out and couldn’t keep up any more. Be kind to yourself.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jun/10/sheryl-sandberg-isnt-the-first-woman-to-realise-that-work-in-your-50s-is-no-walk-in-the-park?CMP=fb_gu&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook&fbclid=IwAR1ysOzuQ8RzXZ8v1w8qzWF0TVzsTZLzIfGwtPhEP3rAZLMXNbbkYbCab4I#Echobox=1654860619

  39. Bernice
    22 June 2022 / 3:14 pm

    Homeopathy is beautiful for working on female hormones, both for mind & body.

  40. 22 June 2022 / 3:01 pm

    Thank you for writing this with such honesty! Absolutely farking resonates, HARD! I’ve had the bloods too to rule out thyroid etc. Nothing. Wasn’t offered patches. Was given prozac which makes me feel ‘better’ but I’m not sure it’s the answer. One thing I do know, it’s a super frightening time of life. So reading something like this lessens that fear by knowing, if anything, we’re not alone xx

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