Walking through the Fog of Perimenopause

By , SparkPeople Blogger
If you are old enough to remember the1970’s TV series All in the Family, then you may also remember one of the classic episodes of all time in which Edith goes through "The Change." As a teen, I can recall this episode and thinking how funny it was to see Archie demanding Edith to change right now, while Edith scurried back and forth between the dinner table and freezer undergoing a frenzy of emotions from anger to tears.

Now that I am edging ever so closer to my 50s (still 2 ½ years away) I am starting to relate to Edith Bunker, although I refuse to wear the dowdy housedresses that were so common back in the day. I am just beginning to feel the subtle, although more frequent changes in my body. I must now face the fact the change is coming; there is no putting a halt to it. However, thankfully, some days are definitely better than others and unlike a 30-minute sitcom, I have months or even years to make the transformation. While I know this is all a part of the life cycle, the emotional roller coaster I am on is driving me, and yes, everyone in my family nuts.

Although I can’t pinpoint the exact date I knew the change was coming, my first suspicion was when my sleep patterns became discombobulated last September. While I would be quite exhausted before going to bed, many nights I would find myself tossing and turning and struggling to stay asleep, which at the time I attributed to overtraining. But since I am no longer training at an intense level, the sleep disturbances are still there, which is one of the "typical" perimenopausal symptoms.

Earlier this week while I was having my hair colored and cut, I experienced what I believe was my first official hot flash. YIPPEE! As I sat in the chair chatting up a storm with my stylist I suddenly found my face and upper body flushed. My face turned beet red and I felt as though I was on fire. This all happened so unexpectedly. My stylist allowed me to go to the ladies room so I could splash some water on my face to help me cool down. Thankfully, it did the trick. But not even three hours later did I experience hot flash number two while browsing at my local bookstore. Now I am almost for certain the change is a coming.

Tonight while I was running, I had to face the realization that my life is changing whether I am ready or not. In some ways this is not a bad thing because I can at least put the blame for all my symptoms on to something that is not in my control. Now I know the foggy thinking, heart palpitations, and mood swings, all of which I attributed to stress, are all part of the process.

The hardest part of the journey is accepting the inevitable, especially when it comes to my thinking process. My thinking has been so foggy lately, although not every day, it is causing me to come up with new ways to handle life. If I do NOT keep an ongoing list, trust me, I am very likely to forget; this from someone who has been quite meticulous about order for most of her life and who has never forgotten a date to save my life.

While I know I cannot stop the change, I am doing all that I can to understand the process of this transformation. I have had to deal with lots of changes in my life, but this by far has been the most challenging, because I can’t STOP it. I am eating more soy-based products and I will continue to exercise, which is a big stress reliever for me. And I pray that I can have the patience with myself as my family has with me as I embark on the next chapter of my life. Bring it on!

Have you gone or are you going through the process or perimenopause or menopause? How did you cope? What measures did you take to lessen the symptoms? What emotions did you go through?

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YMWONG22 12/16/2020
Thank you for sharing Report
DEE107 7/25/2020
thanks Report
Have you gone or are you going through the process or perimenopause or menopause?
Yes. Since September 2018
How did you cope?
I tried OTC medicines first. They helped some but the mood swings were awful. Everything and everyone was a source of irritation at a "rip their face off" level.
What measures did you take to lessen the symptoms?
I exercised. I did it often enough to discover that 63 minutes of continuous exercise per day significantly reduced hot flashes but it did not help much with the mood swings. I talked to my doctor. He said it was best to let my body go through this natural process. After I called and explained my level of irritation, he called in a prescription. It helps with the mood swings. I changed my diet to low carb cutting out breads, pastas, etc. I focus on green veggies, protein, and healthy fats. T,he diet has helped the most with the hot flashes.
What emotions did you go through? All of them! Irritation, anger most. Report
I’m trying to determine if my symptoms are because of “the change” or due to my thyroid which I have been battling for last 5 years. They have a lot of the same symptoms but I am 49. Time will tell lol. Report
I was in peri- men for at least a decade & the sleep problems were originally thought to be SAD. Light therapy helped & I know now that my vit D may have been low too.
Otherwise I was lucky. My periods got lighter then stopped just about when I turned 60. Dr said that's why I still looked so young. Since then my hair is rapidly turning grey & my skin has developed light age spots but I have no wrinkles only sagging jowls. My memory is still pretty good except when overly stressed, or about things I don't care about. My sense of times past is more iffy....things seem like they were 10 or 12 years ago but just as easily it could've been 30 or 50! Somehow I'm about ten yrs behind unless I stop & really calculate. Maybe it's the actual importance of the memory emotionality not so much when it occurred.

The worst for me is the inability to sleep through 5he night, or readily fall back to sleep once awake like to use the toilet. For a koala, that's really sad 🐨 so I have to either stay in bed later or plan a nap. If on busy days that doesn't happen, my memory gets worse & I'm quite grumpy.

I was in peri- men for at least a decade & the sleep problems were originally thought to be SAD. Light therapy helped & I know now that my vit D may have been low too.
Otherwise I was lucky. My periods got lighter then stopped just about when I turned 60. Dr said that's why I still looked so young. Since then my hair is rapidly turning grey & my skin has developed light age spots but I have no wrinkles only sagging jowls. My memory is still pretty good except when overly stressed, or about things I don't care about. My sense of times past is more iffy....things seem like they were 10 or 12 years ago but just as easily it could've been 30 or 50! Somehow I'm about ten yrs behind unless I stop & really calculate. Maybe it's the actual importance of the memory emotionality not so much when it occurred.

The worst for me is the inability to sleep through 5he night, or readily fall back to sleep Report
I am now in menopause....I hate it!! Report
Great article, good need-to-know information, thanks! Report
This is terrible, and planning my wedding and trying to loose weight at all the same time. What was I thinking? Report
Great info! Thanks! Report
Hot flashes continue! Report
Thank you for the information. Report
I was fortunate in that I did not have the hot flashes just periods of time where I noticed I was slightly warmer than others. But the moods were harder to deal with. Just remember "this, too, shall pass." Report
Thank You for a great article. Report
I guess I'm one of the lucky ones. Other than irregular and increasingly rare periods since turning 52 three years ago (the last one was this past January), I've had no physical symptoms: No mood swings, "fogs", hot flashes, or weight gain (in fact, I had no trouble losing 71 pounds and keeping them off over the last year and 1/2.) I did have something of a midlife crisis starting a year ago, though, and I believe there's no question that it's related to these hormonal changes. Report
I'm 43, and have been going through pre menopause since the age of 42. I'm not overly concerned about the symptoms...however i am super excited about the change in my monthly....bi-monthly sometimes tri-monthly aunt flo!😉 Report
Menofog is real. Report
I am 49.5 and have been experiencing these things for the past 3-4 years. I keep hoping the "end" is near, but alas. . . . .
Exercise and keeping a balanced diet helps, oh, and LOTS of sticky notes ;0) Report
I started with flooding and then I was getting hot flashes, back aches and not able to sleep. I am doing better now with less stress and really watching my diet. I have not had hot flashes for a while but still have some trouble sleeping. I am glad it is getting better except trying to keep the weight off. Report
I want to thank Spark for this article and everyone who posted their experiences. I'm 40 and have been having peri symptoms for several yrs. Gyn told me the same thing -- I'm too young. And yet I have the fog, terrible mood swings, can't sleep, weight gain, and crazy periods. I was really starting to wonder if I was going crazy. I'm going to insist on a blood test from my doc. Thanks everyone! Report
I am so glad to have found this blog!! I'm 40 and have been having these symptoms for about 2 years. Dr finally did blood work and I am def perimenopausal. Thanks to your blog I don't feel so alone or like such a freak! Report
Very informational Report
I am now 46 years old, but have started feeling the subtle changes...tired all the time, but can't sleep, forgetfulness that just isn't even a joke anymore, depression, I felt like I was in a fog all the time--just couldn't even think clear for some reason. Nothing was helping, until a friend gave me Emerita Pro-Gest. It's a cream for perimenopause symptoms. I had a lot of doubt that a cream would help, but after reading about it on the web, both pros and cons, I decided to try it. OMG.........the fog was gone! I can sleep, I have energy to exercise again...I feel like ME. I don't say it will work for you, but it did work wonders for me! Report
I was peri for a couple of years then, at 47, the hot flashes started. I could heat a large room with them. I stopped drinking wine, caffeine and gave up chocolate for awhile and they went away. Periods continued sporadically until I was 50. Breezed through it compared to many. Just wanted to say: Ask your doctor to check your thyroid levels as many of the symptoms are similar to menopause and many women develop low thyroid function around the age of menopause. Report
I'm glad I found this blog. I've been dealing with anxiety and depression for about 4 years now. Seemed to just come out of the blue and scared the life out of me. Couldn't even go to the grocery store without having a panic attack. I was 42 yrs old. Eventually I went on an antidepressent and did CBT which was fantastic. Then about a year ago due to some life stressors my anxiety returned - it's always been with me for the past 4 years but muted and I haven't been on the meds that long so I coped. Anyway the point of this is about 6 months ago I started thinking why are my periods so different...could this be related somehow? I spot days before my period/every period is different/mood swings are so bad some days/insomnia/hot flushes. Spoke to my doctor and he's 'you're too young' for peri but everything I read seems to support that theory. I told him again about the spotting at my recent checkup and he saids sounds like your progesterone low. Well yeah! Something's up. There's no way that I could go from being super busy super productive to having to make lists for everything. Report
I am sure glad I found this article. Within two years I finished everything EXCEPT brain fog. The last 4 years the most frequent words out of my mouth are, " I don't remember". I hate it, and didn't know why.

At least I now know why I've been dealing with half my brain tied behind my back!

I had no idea that symptoms could last 10+years, I thot my two years was a long time, boy was I wrong. I saw my NP probably twice during the two years. One funny thing (now)but not then. After I thot I was done, I was on a family vacation and my period started. I was completely unprepared since it had stopped.I had no car and had to get a ride to a store, then everyone knew what had happened. I was really embarrassed, but the next (and subsequent) vacations I was prepared! Report
I am 50.. and havent had a period since march this year.... and at first that was my only symptom,, and I thought wooohooo! no periods at last!! I still get PMT, though now, instead of bleeding, my hair falls out, my nails break, I cant sleep, and I am on the verge of tears for 3-4 days....
Since then (March) I have also noticed
* that I cant tolerate any diary foods-- I feel like I am going to be sick--
* or any bread -- feel very bloated for hours after a sandwich --
* that even tho I go to the Gym 4-5 hours a week, and have done for 4 months and am careful of what I eat, I have only lost 5 kgs (12lbs)

I spoke to my Dr about all these symptoms,, she said,, "Well you have to expect this at your age".... End of discussion as far as she was concerned....
I am going to find another Dr. lol
I can't take any type of HRT's because my sister died of breast cancer..
I used to eat and drink soy instead of diary, but now, because of all I have read about soy, I am hesitant to eat or drink it..

So, I will see a new Dr, and see what happens then...
I am 45 going on 46 and I started having the hot flashes and night sweats a year ago. Over the last couple of months, I have noticed my emotions taking off and causing my husband many challenges. As a nurse, I don't believe that over the counter supplements are very effective as the amounts of herbs varies from pill to pill. I usually do eat healthy and I am very fit (per my recent health assessment to join a gym) but I still struggle with the sense of "not being myself." My doctor says HRT is only a last resort used when the symptoms cannot be managed but I hate to think of what I will be like if this continues to spiral in such an out of control way. I love the blogs and comments about perimenopause and menopause as they remind me that I am not alone. Report
I'm 46 and have had crazy mood swings, migraines, some night sweats, trouble sleeping, more painful periods, and the foggy brain for about 2 years.

I've run the gamut of birth control pills, anti-depressants, etc. Have had some relief, but I just deal with life one day at a time. Had to laugh this year when my doc told me (after I chatised him about not understanding what I'm going through), "I'm trying to help you here!"
I remember the menopausal fog, the sleepless nights and the hot flashes. When we are younger and start our periods, we know what our monthly discomforts will be and we know that they are cyclical and we deal with them for a few days. Menopause is different and it is different for every woman. There was no apparent cycle so we are left to fight the symptoms as they surprise us. I don't think as women we are adequately prepared and educated on this topic until it hits us and we must fend for ourselves.

At the onset of peri-menopause, I had the brain fog and it was rough because I had started a new job. I could not write down a 10-digit phone number and get it correct. I hated having a fuzzy brain!

Then the hot flashes started. Although I was fortunate enough not to have night sweats, my flashes did wake me up at night. I could have 3 or 4 sleepless nights in a row although I was exhausted. Add a little brain fog with that and it was terrible.

You get into menopause, the weight gain begins! I have always been able to keep my weight, but the usual cut backs in food consumption plus exercise did nothing and I gained 30+ pounds around my middle. I've never had weight there before and my self esteem began to plummet.

Like some of the other posts, I was going to tough it out. Didn't want to take pharmaceuticals. After much research, I found out about bio-identical hormones and started taking them. My doctor is excellent and specializes in baby boomer health issues. They take your blood and test it and prescribe what YOU need. It is monitored regularly (every 6 months) and your hormones are adjusted accordingly. I've been on bio-identical hormones for about 3.5 years and I highly recommend them!

Come to find out that your body can't lose weight effectively when your hormones are out of balance, so my weight came off. My efforts had to be very deliberate, and I thank Spark People for their food tracker that keeps me accountable. I exercise 3 times a week and have lost 50+ pounds. I am 55 and am 25 pounds lighter than I was in high school. My muscles are lean and I have very low body fat and am fitter than I've ever been in my life.

Sorry for such a long post, but menopause is a topic I tend to preach about since the change is near and dear to my heart. I've come out the other side of it fitter and healthier than I've ever been in my life, and am delighted that I can sleep again, use my brain again and look good in my clothes.

I believe we can make it through this if we know how. God bless you ladies who are dealing with this.

http://fitandfabulousblog.com Report
After 6 months of hot flashes (at 48), and sleep problems, I ended up with Mono (yup, at 48). Then 2 months of extreme fatigue (and no flashing yay!). Black cohosh, accupuncture, herbs, Dr.'s, didn't do a darn thing for me. Exercise (regularly, daily if possible, to sweating) has helped. I think Soy helps too. Simple things like drinking cold water and opening window when I feel one coming on too. I have a whole new level of compassion for women who just seemed irritable to me in the past. Now I want to hug them and go, right on sister, I'm with you. Report
Been experiencing symptoms for about a year now...I can have something to blame my grumpiness on! lol Report
I stopped having my period mid-thirties and I thought "Yeah!!!!" Then I started getting the hot flashes, night sweats, and all the other menopause symptoms and that was about 36. I had the blood work and the pap and found out I was in perimenopause. My doctor said that it was uncommon since my mother and her mother started menopause in their mid-50s. I've tried the pill, the creams, and the "pez" pills and nothing really worked and were more of a hassle then a cure. I'm 45 now and the flashes come and go but everything else is pretty good. I'm hoping I'm done with it all but knowing my luck, I'll have another go around with menopause (just because I went through peri so early). Report
I have found that yoga, exercise and reducing my caffeine intake has been very helpful in controlling my menopause symptoms. It certainly isn't an easy time in a woman's life but talking about it, going to the doctor and doing a research can help. Report
This is the first time I have heard of the brain fog or forgetfulness being associated....what a relief! I have that plus hot flashes, night sweats, period stops, heart racing, trouble sleeping, and I think moodiness (the fam would say yes, I say no...LOL). Anyway, exercise and low stress help a lot but I can't always maintain the balance. I am 45 and have been dealing with this for about 5 years....fun....

Now, that I think a bit more, I am not sure this was helpful....I learned I have YEARS more of this....argh! Report
Have you gone or are you going through the process or perimenopause or menopause?
For the past year I believe it is perimenopause.

How did you cope?
Taking a day at a time.
What measures did you take to lessen the symptoms?
The symptons at this time are manageable
What emotions did you go through? Weeping, brain fog and forgetfulness.

I'm 57 and have been suffering with all the "usual" symptoms for over 10 years. I suspect that I've always been borderline hypothyroid, but was only diagnosed 5 years ago. From my research, low thyroid exacerbates menopausal symptoms terribly. Soy is NOT good for anyone. It's the ratio between estrogen and progesterone that is the problem, not the lack of estrogen. I take natural thyroid glandular, pregnenolone and progest-E, along with vitamin D and digestive enzymes.

I also follow a pro-thyroid diet. High protein (80-120 g a day), lots of fruits and vegetables. No bread, no pasta, no seeds, nuts or beans except green beans. Make sure to cook broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach. These are all anti-thyroid in raw state. No soy, no whey protein (I use Great Lakes Gelatin for protein supplements). Caffeinated coffee (is helpful as long as you drink it with cream to allow the body to utilize the caffeine), no soda, occasional alcohol (a glass of wine a couple of times a month).

Doing this, plus exercising for an hour every day has allowed me to lose 32 pounds since last April, even with the low thyroid. I'm in the best shape I've ever been in and the lowest weight in my adult life. I still have the sleeplessness, and some hot flashes, but all in all, life is a great ride. There are so many that are not as fortunate as I am. Report
I'm 62 so have experienced most all of the symptoms. I skimmed here to be sure that the "hair loss" symptom was addressed. Luckily, I could use the computer and got lots of great info when I had questions...and they were free. I write, only because after losing 50 lbs in the last year, I'm getting the occasional "power surge". Very tolerable after having a fairly long peri-menopause. Report
I've been going thru it for over 10 years. Enough already! I used the "estrogen-only" patches, but developed breast cancer 2 yr. ago so the hot flashes came back as well as many other symptoms. The fogginess is one that I really, really hate because I also have fibro fog. After being intellectually "on the ball" all my life, giving up my brain has been really hard. Report
melatonin is an inexpensive over the counter health supplement that can help with the sleeping. Report
I'm 55 now and have been going through the change for 8 years! Enough already!! Many hot flashes and disturbed nights have gone by. And I can say that for me at least, soy did nothing to help! I've been a vegetarian for about 30 years, and have eaten more soy that the vast majority of people on the planet. Yet I suffered more hot flashes than most of my friends. I'm hoping I'm almost done changing! Report
I've been 2 years since my final period and I can sympathize with the poor sleeping patterns. I can't shut the brain off at night. The hot flashes are as common as breathing. I try to wear less polyester but they still happen. The poor memory is a burden right now. I have to write things down or I am confused.
I go for annual check ups and now I have to be vigilant about my blood pressure. Report
Been going through it for the past several years, not quite 50. I'm already very very heavy, and so the soy products (unless they are FERMENTED products, see the Donna Gates - Body Ecology Diet) do me no good, but make it all worse. I've always felt hot, so not really aware of it as being a "hot flash". Taking Kelp and Maca now as my big complaints (or the one my husband complains about) is total lack of interest in sex. My menstrual periods vary wildly, and the past 3 summers I basically won't have a period at all. This past summer I went 132 days before I had a cycle. I'm not interested in taking Premarin or similar substances because they are "natural" only if you like products made from horse pee... so am planning to go check out some bio-identical remedies soon as I can get in with a naturepath or similar medical training. Eating lots of fruits and veggies and very dark (75-90% cacao) chocolate, avoiding HFCS, avoiding bleached sugars, all seem to help me a lot, as does getting exercise... just that I don't "remember" and then get busy doing other things and don't exercise.. Report
After being in menopause for about 10 years feeling miserable, I finally realized why I was feeling this way. Silly me thought menopause was just about night sweats, which I never had much of but slowly I realized how it was making me miserable, with depression, memory loss, foggy headedness, and sex life...what sex life. I'd had enough, after doing research I started taking bio-identical hormones about a year ago. Within a few days I started feeling better. I had forgotten how it was to feel good. It's the best thing I ever did for myself. Report
The more weight I lose the better i feel, in terms of the perimenopausal symptoms Report
I had chemotherapy for breast cancer at age 48. Voila! Instant menopause - or so I thought. And it was wonderful. Not a hot flash, not a single symptom, other than the loss of periods. It lasted two full years. Then, out of the blue, at age 50, after two years of no periods, I got my period back, just like normal. Boy, am I bummed - because now I guess I'll have to go through the whole nine yards, and probably every single nasty symptom. Report
Oh yes....those are the symptoms! I am turning 51 this month. I started menopause early and thankfully I have "passed through" :) Exercise has helped tremendously! I personally chose to go through it without any hormone therapy....God bless my family!!! LOL I feel better now than I have in years. It's a "new season" for me now. If I had to name the one physical lifesaver for me it was exercise, spiritually it was my faith in Jesus Christ that I would get through it! Report