My Perimenopause – Today

I thought as I’m a couple of weeks into my 50th year of life (my fancy way of saying I turned 49 at the beginning of February) that I’d update my blog on my perimenopause journey and how I’m feeling.

I’m feeling pretty darn good.

Sure, I have some symptoms, but less intensely so compared to before I worked with my healthcare team to address them. I also think my attitude has shifted. I feel a bit more groovy about the experience as a whole.

By the way, I plan on writing a separate piece on why I think that is and the impact it has had on my perimenopausal experience. Stay tuned!

For the last 6 months, I’ve had only a handful of night sweats and 2 migraines. My brain fog has mostly lifted and my memory, while not awesome, with some little organizational hacks serving me better than it did in 2018 and 2019.

Mirena IUD

I’ve had my Mirena IUD for 2 and 1/2 years. After 6 months of constant spotting, my periods appeared every 3 months for a year and then at 6 months. That last one was in June 2019. I don’t know if I’m still ovulating. Sometimes the Mirena can suppress ovulation (in the first year it is likely suppressing it, but unlikely in subsequent years of use). I think I’m ovulating because of noticeable ovulatory discharge once a month and some PMS symptoms later on (breast swelling and tenderness, bloating, cravings, and irritability). I want to get a Digital Basal Thermometer so I can start tracking by temperature for ovulation.

Speaking of tracking, I highly recommend tracking symptoms for perimenopause. Human memories are quite faulty and having some accurate data can help us and our health professional notice trends. I’ve tried most of the Apps and notebook methods. I’m planning on a blog post with reviews of what I’ve tried.

Sure, not having a period has been a good thing. No more painful weeks of extra-long and heavy bleeds, endometrial build-up, and worries of abnormal cell growth.

The Levonorgestrel (a kind of progestin) can help bring some hormonal counterbalance to early perimenopause’s estrogen dominance.

But, I do also miss having a period. It was an obvious sign of my monthly cycle and I felt reassured when my period started. No surprise given how many years I used my cycle to monitor pregnancy avoidance.

Now without my period, I feel like a month without the moon. Yeah, I went there even though the moon-menstrual connection has been shown to be a myth. I like the symbolism.

In terms of the night sweats (which Levonorgestrel has been shown to diminish), I definitely experienced a reduction to only a few a month.

Bottom line, I’m glad that with Mirena I get that progestin boost without having to think about it.

Effexor

I’ve been taking a low dose of Effexor (SNRI) for a year and a half to help with my brain fog, night sweats, and migraines. I’ve been really happy with how clear-headed I’ve felt. I do sleep through the night and have fewer night sweats, but I don’t enjoy the vivid wild dreams I have because of the medication. I find them mentally and emotionally draining. I wake up with a sense of emotional and mental busyness that distracts me. It also gives me what I can best describe as les frissons— inner body trembles. They feel weird.

Mini Fridge

Before Christmas, I bought myself a mini-fridge to keep mini icepacks next to my bed. I’ve only had to use them twice since then thanks to the Mirena and Effexor. Still, I’m glad I have a low energy non-invasive way to manage a hot flush or night sweat if and when I have them.

So, that is where I’m at. I have heard of people using the Mirena even after menopause which I need to learn about. I think I’d like to spend a year or so without it once I have it removed in 2 years to see how I feel. Same thing with me stopping to take the Effexor. I want to have some sort of baseline for my mind and body and go from there. In any case, I’m optimistic that I will figure out what is right for me and hope by me sharing my perimenopause journey you have more support to make your own choices.

Resources

Mirena for use in peri- and postmenopause

Effexor for easing hot flashes

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