By Siobhan O’Neill White
When I was 12 my Mam told me about periods we also learned about periods in school – albeit in the most unhelpful and shameful way, like it was some horrible secret girls should never talk about! When I was pregnant, I read loads of books about pregnancy, birth and being a parent. When I had a miscarriage, I got support from my Mam who had been through a miscarriage herself and advice from www.miscarriage.ie So why is it, when I hit my 40’s, no-one told me about Menopause, or her evil little sister, perimenopause? My periods were erratic, my mood was all over the place, I had trouble sleeping and my hips ached. I was anxious and fearful but didn’t know why. I got into my car one day and couldn’t remember how to drive. I sat there for a full 5 minutes with no clue how to start my car. It’s called Brain Fog apparently! I had tests for arthritis, a brain scan, CT scans – all manner of tests to see what was going on but no answers. And then a miracle happened when Davina McCall made a show about menopause. All I knew about menopause was that women got hot flushes and their periods stopped in their 50’s. Oh how ignorant I was! I had never even heard of perimenopause. It was a huge relief to know I was not alone and that every woman goes through this. Finally, armed with information, I had my hormones tested and was put on HRT. Its early days but already my sleep is better and my joints are not aching as much. In addition to HRT, I use the Balance App (a free app for women dealing with perimenopause & menopause) which is full of advice and support. I have also found the supplements from Better Body Co. helpful with bloating, which is a common problem for women dealing with perimenopause and menopause. For anyone who wants to find out more or get support for perimenopause or menopause, find chat and advice on the Balance App. I would highly recommend checking out the Menopause Documentary on the RTE player and the Davina McCall documentaries on Channel 4 on Demand. I would also recommend having your partner and children watch these documentaries with you because the more we speak openly about perimenopause & menopause, the better it will be for women who are affected and their families.