Medically reviewed by Dr. Tamara Neuhaus MD
Are you spending more time looking for your keys than driving? Have you always cried this much when you watch TV? And when did waking up with soaking wet pajamas become normal? If you're feeling like your body has been gaslighting you, it actually maybe that you're entering perimenopause. For most women, this happens in their mid-forties. And the most common symptoms include mood swings, insomnia, forgetfulness, hot flashes/night sweats, loss of sex drive, and visible changes like thinning hair, weight gain, dry skin or acne. It would be amusing—and sometimes it is—if it weren't so disruptive to your everyday life.
Perimenopause may abruptly enter your life and demand your attention, or it could begin with subtle or sporadic changes that are trickier to detect. It's hard to notice incremental changes when you're right up close to something. This is why your partner doesn't notice your haircut, but the coworker you haven't seen for a week spots the difference immediately. You’re never not in your body, so it’s hard for you to get a perspective on how it's changing.
Even if you do notice your early symptoms, you may mistake them for extreme PMS or an existing medical condition. If your symptoms aren’t consistent, you may not realize that they’re pieces of a larger constellation of changes. One of the things we hear most often from our members is that they’re aware that their body is changing but don’t realize that their symptoms are all related to perimenopause.
And it's not always as easy as comparing notes with other women your age, because every woman’s perimenopause "cocktail" is unique. Yours might be mood swings and low libido with a splash of insomnia. Your best friend's might be vaginal dryness with a twist of incontinence. And your sister could be high on not-giving-a-rat's-ass-about-what-anyone-thinks (funny, no one talks about that delicious symptom). So what's a woman to do?
Unfortunately, there’s not a reliable perimenopause test. While you can have your hormone levels measured, the reading you get is for a specific moment in time. And the hallmark of perimenopause is erratic hormone levels. So depending on the day of your test, you may have an abundance of hormones in your system, or you could be running on fumes.
What we recommend at The Cusp is to really start paying attention to all of the physical and emotional changes that are happening. Changes in your mood, periods, skin, hair, sleep, digestion, body temperature, energy levels, sex drive, cognitive function. Track when they happen and how much they're impacting your day-to-day life. This is the best way to determine if you’re in perimenopause, and it’s exactly what we created The Cusp app for.
Then share what you've tracked, either with us or with your doctor, because 1.) you’ll gain a better understanding of what’s happening to you and what to expect, 2.) there are treatments for the things you're experiencing, and 3.) some of these symptoms can signal other health issues, so you may need to test for those to rule them out.
In the meantime, slap a Tile on your key ring, binge watch Comedy Central and crank up the bedroom AC. Here at The Cusp, we raise our own perimenopause cocktails and welcome you to what can be an occasionally wild, but also a uniquely empowering phase of life. And remember, you made it through puberty. You got this.
Our menopause specialists can create a personalized care plan to help you get the sleep you need to feel like yourself again. Learn more