Hint: You don't need a blood test.
One of the biggest points of confusion I see in Perimenopausal women who are dealing with heavy bleeding, mood swings, tender breasts, skin issues, insomnia, bloating, joint pain, headaches and more is:
Does [insert symptom] mean I'm in perimenopause?
OR - they will go to their doctor with a list of symptoms only to be told they are too young to be in perimenopause.
OR - their doctor will order a blood test to determine if they are in perimenopause (or menopause) and when their estrogen or FSH levels don't match a number on an old chart somewhere they are told no - you can't be in perimenopause.
Let's get the facts straight.
According to the North American Menopause Society,
The gradual transition between the reproductive years and menopause (the cessation of menstrual periods) is called perimenopause (literally meaning “around menopause”). It is generally a transition that is many years long and can be associated with shorter menstrual intervals, irregular menses, night sweats, and other symptoms.
Perimenopause is not a disease or condition that needs to be diagnosed. Every woman will go through this transition.
Blood tests are not helpful in determining whether you are in perimenopause or not because the nature of perimenopause is hormonal fluctuation, one blood test cannot possibly show the fluctuations over a week or a month, so be wary of someone using this as a sole measure for determining if you are in perimenopause.
There ARE reasons blood tests can provide helpful information. For example: tracking your hormone levels over time; or testing other markers for identifying conditions that might mimic perimenopause like insulin resistance, or thyroid problems. Blood test data may also give some information that may guide us towards beneficial supplements. But in terms of determining perimenopause, blood tests only give you a snapshot of your hormone levels on that particular day.
So if blood tests won't tell me, how DO I know?
Though the timing of when your body will start this natural transition is different for everyone, most women start experiencing changes or symptoms in their early to mid 40s. The more you do to take care of your hormone health, the fewer and more mild your symptoms will be.
As I said earlier, perimenopause is a transition phase marked by hormone fluctuations.
Our progesterone typically drops first, leaving an excess of estrogen. Symptoms of low progesterone or high estrogen could be:
Eventually our estrogen also drops where we may experience:
Brain fog /Memory Problems
Hot flashes / Night sweats
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and you are over 40, your body is letting you know you are in the transition of perimenopause and its time to take action and balance your hormones.
Despite what your friends have told you, or what you've heard on the internet, you are NOT meant to suffer with these symptoms. Our bodies are designed to thrive when we give them the nutrients they need and adopt nurturing habits that allow our bodies to come to balance and generate energy and vitality.
I teach my clients to develop a deep awareness and connection to their bodies so they can make adjustments to their diet or routines in order to give their bodies what they need BEFORE the imbalance gets disruptive to their lives. This is how to THRIVE in peri/post menopause.
Interested in learning more about working with me? Click HERE.
*If you are under 40, and have symptoms similar to those in perimenopause, you may have POI (premature ovarian insufficiency). This would be determined by a doctor specializing in hormone balance.
*Gynecologists are NOT all trained in hormone balance as this is not part of their standard training. It is worth looking around for a doctor (MD or ND) who has taken additional training in hormone balance.