Jo's Tips For Perimenopause
We're a chatty, close knit bunch here at Cheeky HQ and you'll know that nothing is off limits.
We enjoy having open and honest conversations and take pride in talking about the things that people don't like to talk about.
The past few months have been an odd one for me.
The summer holidays are always a time of flux as I combine working from home with having the teens around and feeling guilt that I'm maybe not doing any of my jobs (working, parenting) at 100%.
Luckily we are a company of brilliant, bright women and I know we were all juggling to some extent.
But my juggling felt a little off, a little more pronounced than previous years.
It turns out my peri menopausal symptoms were getting the better of me. Things have definitely settled down since the start of September and the sense of quiet that has settled back in the house.
But I have also faced some of the things I was feeling - mentally and physically.
Facts - I'm 50 and have been on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for 2 years
I don't want to suffer through perimenopause and menopause. For me, this was the right treatment option to manage my hormone levels.
Some health checks and taking stock have set me back on the right path so I thought I'd take the opportunity to share how to help perimenopause:
- Be aware of your periods and any changes
- Be prepared for your periods and other secretions
- Take time for yourself
- Keep Cool
- Nice Distractions
- Speak up
- Take it Easy
- Eat a healthy diet
Yep, I know that might sound obvious but the sooner you are aware of what your menstrual cycles are doing and any accompanying mood swings, the sooner you'll be able to spot irregularities and do something about them.
My periods turned really heavy for a few years and I sought medical advice and a bit of intervention (Internal scan anyone!) and then left it for a while longer. Once I took action and decided to go down the HRT route, things definitely settled down.
This summer however, I noticed some new changes mainly in my mood and had a couple of irregular bleeds.
A quick chat with the GP and I was seeing a consultant and going back down the internal scan route which resulted in some blood tests and a hysteroscopy as it turns out I have a couple of fibroids, a couple of cysts and a few polyps.
It's so important to get anything that is "not normal for you" checked out.
Don't be shy, don't put it off, take the courage of your convictions to your GP and don't give up or be fobbed off.
I remember one of my first meetings with the GP where I said I was actually ok with the heavy bleeding as I had a ton of products to get me through.
Our period pants and pads have been brilliant for me and seen me through the bloodiest of times as well as allowing me to be prepared for the "have I just come on or is something else happening down there?"
I packed the pants and pads below for after my hysteroscopy as I knew I would bleed.
When I took the bag out after the procedure the lovely Nurse that had been sat with me (at the head end!) was impressed with our reusable bamboo pads and how comfy they are.
I only wish I had taken some of our cotton flannel wipes with too for the clean up.
Having to use disposable wipes was not great...I had forgotten how annoying they are to get out of the packet and when you want to clean up and go quickly and get your modesty back.
I love our pants for that daily protection and security and am often wearing our them just for the amount of discharge that seems to be coming out!
Vaginal dryness and discomfort is another sign of perimenopause and is sort of adding insult to injury if is accompanied by a drop in your sex drive too.
Our pants and pads are also great if you find yourself needing lube to relieve vaginal dryness.
Whether you are working full time, part time or flexibly and whether or not you have family commitments it's so important to take time for yourself.
Not always easy.
I had a discussion with a friend the other day. We both admitted that when the rest of the household are doing their own thing and we have space, we tend to wander around looking for things to do, or thinking that we should be making a list .
Stop! Get a hobby, read a book, do some regular exercise. Or go for a walk outdoors...see below re keeping cool and let your shoulders drop.
I love Sydney Cummings exercise classes online as she's so positive.
On that note, our Feeling Sporty are fab for any leaks during a burpee or tuck jump . Or...Be More Bev (one of our Warehouse Managers) and take up Gig Rowing which looks so much fun!
Another side effect of perimenopause is that I have basically spent the last couple of months complaining that my house is "Hotter than the sun".
Now it has been ridiculous levels of heat but my body still thinks that is happening. My fan is not going back in the loft during the winter! I know the family will want the heating nice and cosy and I'll be happily sat on the bed feeling cool and able to cope.
I (and Bev our Warehouse Manager) also find that a cool grey bamboo wipe - damp with cold water is a great way to keep your cool. Pop a couple in a wetbag and they are on hand for any moment you may need them.
I'm finding rewatching some Netflix classics brilliant for the soul! My current fave is Schitts Creek and I am falling in love with the family all over again (and Daniel Levy...)
My other tool to get by is podcasts. I know, I'm not inventing anything new here but I have my faves that I look forward to each week and they do help pass the time when hanging out the washing, doing the washing up or putting the 12 yr olds clothes away AGAIN. Kind of makes you feel like the chores aren't such a chore.
They are also fab company on a train journey and I do love laughing out load in my own world!
I'm listening to Dish, Parenting Hell, Alan Carr's Life's a beach and Brett Goldstiens Films to be buried with.
Give them a try and let us know if there are any others we're missing!
If you feel like you need to talk about the things you are feeling, needing, worrying about then I can guarantee that others do too.
Chat to your friends, family, partner, work friends and there will be someone ready to listen and even when you don't need advice, just saying stuff out loud will really help.
You might even realise that someone you didn't think of, is in the same boat as you.
Chatting in the warehouse last week, Emma (superstar order picker/packer) has been experiencing ankle and wrist pain recently which isn't going down well as just a month ago she was climbing Snowdon to celebrate her 50th.
And she also mentioned seriously itchy eyes like she wants to scratch her eyeballs out! Sounds painful and so annoying and Megan (Cheeky Marketing Exec) said - "oh wow, my mum has been experiencing that recently too". It's a symptom I didn't know of but one to add to the list!
If you're struggling with mood swings, take a look at cognitive behavioural therapy (cbt) which can really help manage these symptoms too.
I almost wrote "Be kind" as the header here but decided it's a little over used and whilst we would never be anything but kind to our friends and family, we're not always so kind to ourselves.
The up and down emotions and feelings I have had in recent months have at times frustrated me, angered me and baffled me and I wasn't always capable of being kind to myself. My mental health has certainly taken a battering.
What I was able to do was try and take a step back, recognise some of the feelings and either let them be or if I had the energy, do something about them.
Eating a healthy diet is always important for good health and to avoid diabetes and heart disease. But in perimenopause, this is also important as eating foods full of plant oestrogen can help manage your estrogen levels too.
Eating lots of fruit and vegetables and avoiding junk food can help, especially as weight gain at this time happens all too easily!
I really hoped that sharing my experience has helped. If so, please take a look at our other blogs that may be of interest.
Recommended Products for Perimenopause:
About the author: Jo van Huet is a mum of 2 and has been working with Helen, Cheeky founder, for over 20 years. She has been Head of Customer Journey at Cheeky Wipes for almost 8 years following a stint “helping out at some Baby shows” since 2008!
Jo has used all the products from our wipes on her kids (now 12 & 15) to our period pants and pads. She is passionate about making sure our customers are happy, informed and feel listened too when they get in touch. Her team pride themselves on providing relatable friendly advice and just LOVE to chat pee, poo and periods all day long!