All about my perimenopause journey

Realising I was perimenopausal

I knew I wasn’t feeling like myself, but for a long time I was just putting it down to being tired with work and juggling family life. So many woman are already shattered from looking after kids and trying to be all things to all people, that it’s hard to know what’s ‘normal tired’ and what’s something more. The more articles I read on perimenopause and conversations I had with friends, the more I started to wonder if this is what it was.

I was feeling exhausted physically and emotionally, my cycle was all over the place, my skin, hair and nails had all changed. My skin had become dry, my hair was also dry and brittle and I was losing more than usual. My nails had been incredibly flaky and I could no longer grow them without them splitting. I was waking in the morning to a feeling in my fingers that felt thick and almost swollen, although they looked fine. I couldn’t clench my fist properly.

I also had a weird sensation where it felt like I had burnt my tongue. I now know that this ‘burning mouth’ feeling is quite a common symptom!

In the evenings I could barely keep my eyes open and my anxiety was through the roof! I was also gaining weight, particularly on my tummy and at quite an alarming rate, and it was really starting to get me down.

Keeping track

My cycle was going from anywhere from every two weeks to a window of six weeks, so I was trying to keep a note of it so that when I spoke to a doctor I could give them a clear pattern, or lack of pattern more to the point.

When I called my surgery I was fortunate to get a very understanding GP. She listened and didn’t dismiss me at all, even though I was, in a text book scenario, ‘younger than expected’. (I’m 43, most information suggests 45 as the window to start at). I hadn’t ruled out other causes though, and said we had a history of thyroid issues on my mum’s side. She also agreed that symptoms for this can cross over, so we did blood tests to rule out a thyroid issue.

As most people know, there is no clear test for perimenopause, but they can check FSH levels with a blood test, which is to do with your fertility. Mine came back showing a number not expected for my age. My doctor wanted to re-do the test a few weeks later, to see if it was consistent as they can be so changeable. The results were the same. That, along with the growing list of symptoms I was experiencing was enough for my doctor to prescribe HRT.

Looking back, I think a number of my symptoms have been there for quite a long time and I just ignored them. We are all very different and will have varying journeys but I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future they widen the age bracket for when peri menopause is likely to start.

Starting conversations

I’ve talked about it at length with many of my friends, as I think it’s incredibly important to discuss things like this. Sometimes it’s someone else’s story that can also be a lightbulb moment for you, and can help you to connect the dots. I realised I had more symptoms than I thought after talking to other women about this, things I didn’t even know were part of it. This subject is no longer taboo, it doesn’t have to be a secret.

Your friends and family may also have some brilliant tips for things that have helped them, like supplements or different types of HRT – or even alternatives to HRT. Not everyone wants to go down the same route, so it’s important to discuss and research what’s right for you.

Tips for navigating this life stage

I would say to start with your GP, this is easier said than done in some areas I know. But keep pushing and be clear about how you are feeling. Make notes so you don’t forget anything, that first ten minute appointment is gold so make sure you say everything you need to.

Do the research, read as much as you can to start understanding what is happening to you and your body.

Look at your health in all areas, what is your diet and lifestyle like. What sort of exercise are you doing, do you need to change it up? I have started to eat dinner earlier, go to bed earlier, eat more whole foods and avoid processed foods. Drink less alcohol. Prioritising sleep is a lot more important to me now. Rest when you need to, free time doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time you need to fill or give to someone else. Use it to refuel and refill that cup.

Talk about it with the people you trust. This is also important if you do decide to go down the HRT route, as it may change how you are feeling emotionally for example while your hormones adjust so your friends or family should be aware so they can flag any changes in you.

The QVC products I’ve been enjoying

I’ve been using the Mighty Green CBD Drops 2000mg, they help me a lot when I’m feeling anxious. I love Elasticizer from Philip Kingsley and it’s an absolute must-have. Previously I would occasionally use it, but now it’s a weekly treatment to help maintain the look and feel of my hair.

For multi-vitamins, I take Prime Fifty Multi-Nutrients and I also take Philip Kingsley PK4 Soya Protein Boost Supplements for my hair.

When it comes to body moisturiser I want something quick and easy, so Korres Hyaluronic Plumping Body Serum is great.

For my face I always turn to Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream, but I recommend upgrading to the Ultra Rich formula if you need an extra moisture boost.

For more stories, advice and interviews, head to the Menopause Your Way Stories hub. To browse and shop a curated edit of menopause products, visit the Menopause Your Way page on QVC.

The content of the QVC website is for information only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the QVC website.

We understand there’s a lot of information out there on the menopause. You can read through the NICE guidance on menopause management, as well as the NHS overview on the menopause.