At the age 49, Catherine Shevloff started experiencing perimenopausal symptoms, noticing a string of changes in her skin, body and how she felt. Having found it difficult to navigate the chasm between an online plethora of conflicting information and a dearth of options from her GP, she contacted MPlus for advice. Here, she shares her menopause experience to date.
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What have been your first signs of perimenopause and how have they come about?
My first signs of perimenopause have been erratic periods. I now go six months at a stretch without one. Then I will get one out of the blue and I noticed my last one was extremely light. This is the main thing that alerted me to a change in what’s normal for me. At around the same time I developed a very stiff shoulder. This was diagnosed as capsulitis - the doctor tells me this is common in menopausal women.
How has perimenopause impacted your physical wellbeing?
My physical wellbeing has generally felt out of sync. Usually there’s a rhythm to the month - i.e. I feel good at the ovulation stage, feel a bit blue with PMT in the days leading up to my period etc. Having no periods or one every blue moon, I have lost all sense of my normal pattern. This, coupled with a very stiff shoulder, made me feel like my body was trying to communicate with me; it wasn’t happy.
In particular, I noticed the following:
- Thinning hair around the face
- Dry hair, dull
- Very dry skin
- Redness on cheeks
- Skin doesn’t spring back, losing plumpness
- Everything to do with eyes, dark circles/puffy/wrinkles/
- A reduction in muscle tone
- Weaker nails
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How has perimenopause impacted your mental wellbeing?
From a mental health point of view I’ve felt older - like I’m walking into a new season. It’s made me evaluate the stage of life that I’m at. I suffer with brain fog far more than I used to as well. This is another contributor to feeling like I’m dropping lots of balls. This stage of life is also when I’m raising teenagers. It's hard to pinpoint what is linked to my perimenopause and what's linked to the chaos of life.
How do you feel in yourself about menopause?
Like things are changing and I’m a beat behind, trying to catch up. I feel people like Davina are raising the conversation surrounding this subject and I’m increasingly aware of how I feel. I also know that my mum had a particularly bad menopause, which makes me more aware of things.
<H2> Have you seen a doctor and were they helpful?
Yes, I’ve visited my GP and that was for a routine blood test to see if I had in fact started the perimenopause. At the time of the test, three years ago, it was negative, saying that my hormones appeared normal.
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Do you have an idea of how you would like to manage your menopause
I’d like to manage my menopause with multiple aims. I’d like to try everything before going back to the GP. I’d also like to manage things by learning more about this massive change in a woman’s life. I want to have a preventative, targeted approach to my symptoms so that 10 years from now my skin, hair and nails are strong and vibrant. My mum had a particularly awful time during the menopause; I’d like to give myself the best chance so I emerge the other side looking and feeling empowered, not withered!
Are your family supportive?
Yes my family is supportive but they know even less than me, so I guess they need to understand as well in order to allow/ make adjustments.
Do you find online information helpful and what do you feel is missing from the conversation?
Yes, online information is usually useful and it’s a subject that's getting more and more air time. What’s missing? The recognition that it’s a massive stage, where our bodies have to go through so much. That and my own symptoms led me to explore the benefits of supplements, particularly collagen. Once I did the research I became blinded by the number of variables.
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What have you found helpful so far?
I’m looking after myself well: I enjoy a balanced and varied diet, I’m exercising three times a week and keeping my weight down, and I do a little self-care (as much as kids/work allow).
Exercise has helped me so much. It keeps me feeling supple and elevates my mood. I also find talking to my friends of similar age useful too. I’d like to learn more from my mum’s experience though.
Is there anything you're anxious about/looking forward to!?
I’m only just at the beginning of this journey and I wonder what hot flushes will be like as I blush very easily anyway and I’m warm blooded - I imagine I’m going to be on fire. I also hope it won’t impact my mental health causing depression.
Catherine is currently trying the MPLus Motivating Morning and Relaxing Night face and body skincare collections as well as our Menopause Collagen Face Cream, Menopause Collagen Eyes Gel, the Menopause Hair Loss Shampoo, Menopause Dry Hair Loss Conditioner, our Motivating Morning Moisturising Mousse and our Comforting Night Moisturising Mousse.
Explore the best skincare for menopause with MPlus.