UAE: All you need to know about Menopause and Perimenopause

Why it is important to shed light on this overlooked chapter of womanhood

By Geraldine Naidoo

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Published: Tue 21 May 2024, 6:49 PM

Here’s a startling revelation: In a room teeming with 50 well-accomplished women in business, only one hand raises when asked who understands menopause and perimenopause.

Amidst a sea of perplexed faces, a singular realisation emerges — this information is not merely ancillary; it is indispensable to every woman’s journey.


The enigmatic onset: A woman's journey

Picture this: A woman, vibrant, dynamic, in the prime of her life, suddenly finds herself teetering on the edge of her emotional precipice. She, who once embraced life’s vigour, now teeters on the cliffs of despondency. Her moments of joy are eclipsed by a baffling new normal: She grapples with erratic mood swings, inexplicable waves of anxiety, and a disconcerting sense of melancholy. Meanwhile, her partner tip-toes around her, bewildered, concerned, confused, annoyed: unable to decode the ever-shifting landscape of her psyche.


A deeper dive: Unravelling the mystery

Threading through this intricate and often overwhelming maze of emotions and bodily transformation, a potentially enigmatic conversation brews: Is this anxiety? Is this depression? Or is this perhaps the veiled onset of perimenopause?

Bridging the silence: Shining a light on perimenopause and menopause

From the onset of menstruation to the joys and challenges of pregnancy and childbirth, discussions about various phases of a woman’s life and milestones abound. Yet, amidst these dialogues, there remains a conspicuous silence when it comes to perimenopause and menopause.

While puberty and pregnancy are heralded as rites of passage, the nuances of perimenopause and menopause often languish in obscurity, shrouded in misconceptions and societal taboos. This dearth of discourse deprives society of vital knowledge and support, leaving women, and the men in their lives, adrift in a sea of uncertainty, confusion, misunderstanding and a lack of support and tolerance.

It is time to break the silence, to shed light on this overlooked chapter of womanhood, and to empower society with the understanding and guidance they deserve, as every woman embarks on this profound and naturally occurring journey of change.

Navigating the terrain: Simple definitions

Menopause is defined as the natural transition that heralds the end of a woman’s reproductive years, and is diagnosed when a woman has gone 12 months without a menstrual period.

Perimenopause is the transitional phase leading up to menopause, characterised by fluctuating hormone levels, including various symptoms (listed below). Perimenopause can last for several years, (10 years or more), before menopause is officially reached.

Unveiling the external manifestations: Witnessing perimenopause and menopause

In the tapestry of womanhood, perimenopause emerges as a poignant chapter, marked by profound physical and emotional transformation. The following common symptoms can vary in severity and duration from woman to woman, and may overlap or occur at different times throughout the perimenopausal and menopausal transition. It is important to note that not every woman will experience symptoms, and if you do experience severe symptoms, seek medical counsel urgently.

· Irregular periods: Both perimenopause and menopause cause changes in the menstrual cycle, including irregular periods that may be heavier or lighter, or skipped altogether.

· Hot flashes: Sudden feelings of warmth, flushing, and sweating.

· Night sweats: Episodes of excessive sweating during sleep.

· Mood swings: Irritability, misplaced emotions, reactivity, moodiness and seemingly unprovoked emotional ups and downs.

· Sleep disturbances: Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing poor-quality sleep is common.

· Overwhelm: A sense of uncertainty, upheaval and a loss of control akin to drowning.

· Fatigue: Feelings of tiredness, fatigue, and absolute exhaustion are common.

· Joint pain: Hormonal fluctuations can contribute to joint stiffness, pain, and discomfort, often resembling symptoms of arthritis.

· Gum problems: Changes in hormone levels can affect oral health, leading to gum sensitivity, bleeding, and an increased risk of periodontal disease

· Digestive issues: Bloating, indigestion, and changes in bowel habits.

· Hair loss or thinning: Hormonal changes can affect hair growth and texture, leading to increased shedding, thinning of the hair, or changes in hair quality.

· Olfactory changes: Some women may experience changes in sense of smell or increased sensitivity to odours, which can affect taste perception and overall well-being.

The diagnostic dilemma: Teasing apart perimenopausal symptoms and mood disorders

Distinguishing between perimenopausal symptoms and those of anxiety and depression is challenging due to symptomatic overlap, highlighting the importance of a multidisciplinary approach. Complex cases may require an integration of hormonal assessments, psychiatric evaluations, and cognitive assessments to differentiate between the intricate nuances concerning perimenopausal symptoms and mood disorders in order to facilitate targeted interventions.

The intricate dance of anxiety and perimenopause:

Studies underscore the profound relationship between anxiety and perimenopausal symptoms, with hallmark symptoms mentioned above amplifying the anxious undercurrents, and perpetuating a cycle of distress.

Transition with support

Traumatic life experiences exacerbate menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms, intensifying stored emotional distress and amplifying physical manifestations. Addressing and processing trauma as it manifests in the physical body, within a therapeutic setting with a trained professional, can be pivotal in mitigating these effects, and will encourage overall wellbeing and resilience.

The Partner's Perspective

For partners grappling with the fluctuations alongside their loved ones, empathy and understanding are paramount. Open, kind communication, and validation of their loved ones further supports the health of the relationship.

Empathy in Action

Furthermore, social support networks and prioritising self-care bolsters resilience, buffering against the ravages of stress.

In a world where knowledge is power, understanding the intricacies of menopause and perimenopause is akin to wielding a formidable tool in the arsenal of womanhood. As we unravel the enigma of anxiety, depression, and perimenopause, let us forge a path of understanding and compassion, illuminating the shadows with empathy and solidarity.

If you wish to live an anxiety-free menopause/perimenopause, visit drgeraldine.com.

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