“I’m only 42, so I was shocked and really upset when a friend suggested I might be starting the menopause. I’ve been having some extreme mood swings over the past couple of months, but I put it down to anxiety about life as it is right now.
“I know I’ve had times when I’ve got really angry, but she says I’ve been shouting at people for little or no reason. I’ve just put that down to the fact I’m having trouble sleeping. I’ve also had times when I’ve burst into tears or simply wanted to be left alone, but I put it down to being pre-menstrual as I’ve always struggled a bit with period problems.
“When my friend pointed out that I’ve been like this continually for over three months now, it was a bit of a shock. Could she be right? Surely I am too young to be entering the menopause? I checked with my mum and she was in her mid-50s when she went through hers.”
“Whilst the majority of women start to go through menopause between age 45 and 55, it can start earlier – in some cases, much earlier. So, although you are only 42 and your mother was older when she had hers, that doesn’t automatically mean you’re not starting to show symptoms now. However, this is really a conversation to have with your GP.
“You mention mood swings, which are significant enough for your friend to make a comment. You don’t mention whether you’ve experienced any other possible signs and symptoms that may be related to menopause, such as irregular bleeding, urinary problems, vaginal dryness, hot flushes and sudden sweats – these can all be indicators.
“Sleep disturbances can also be an indicator of menopause – so whilst anxiety, as you say, could certainly be causing your sleeping difficulties, it’s worth bearing in mind that it could be linked to something else too.
“I suggest you arrange to see your doctor and discuss it all. They may want to do a blood test to check your hormone levels. If it turns out you are entering the menopause, please don’t panic. There are numerous treatments available to help manage the symptoms, as well as helpful lifestyle advice and complementary therapies.
“Although it’s been around a while, you might also find it helpful to read the book Is it Me, Or Is It Hot in Here? A Modern Woman’s Guide To The Menopause by Jenni Murray. It might be a little dated but I think it’s still one of the best books on menopause.
“Whatever happens, it sounds like it could be a good idea to talk to your GP anyway. There are also lots of things that can help with things like anxiety and sleep problems. You might consider counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which is a type of talking therapy that can help with low mood and anxiety.”
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