when women and pre-teens go through the “big change”

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In this file photo, women laugh as they stroll through Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain with their dogs. In this file photo, women laugh as they stroll through Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain with their dogs. Dr Shevon Joseph, medical director and consulting physician at Azalea Health Services, says that regular exercise, at least three times a week, is a great way to help relieve perimenopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

For some time now, even before the pandemic, the mood at home has changed. While the love, fun and laughs are always there, not a day goes by without a scream match between me and my pre-teen son, mostly for the smallest of things.

I go crazy when he stands in front of the open fridge and watches God knows what for God knows how long. Or when I feel it before he walks into the room and I have to remind him that taking a shower is something people do every day, sometimes more than once. This deodorant is useless if it is not used and the ketchup is not an accompaniment but a condiment. And don’t talk about when I constantly have to be on her back to finish and hand in her homework on time.

He, in turn, gets mad at me if I watch him, interrupt him when he’s in the middle of a game or if I have the nerve to wake him up for school. We both still seem to be in the mood. Turns out we’re both going through our respective “big changes” at the same time – him going through puberty and me going perimenopause.

“Perimenopause is characterized by irregular menstrual cycles and marked hormonal fluctuations, often accompanied by hot flashes, sleep disturbances, decreased energy levels, mood swings … This has an impact. about the daily activities and personal relationships of many women, “said Dr Shevon Joseph, medical director and consultant physician at Azalea Health, a Woodbrook-based clinic that provides gynecological health care and health education for women. Scenarios that I know quite well. Because there are nights when I would wake up in an air-conditioned room with my clothes soaked in sweat. Or in the morning, I would wake up several hours before dawn and couldn’t fall back to sleep, which made me nervous and altered my mood for the day long before it even started.

Add that to what the nhs.uk says about pre-teen and adolescent development: “Hormone surges, combined with bodily changes, the struggle to find an identity, pressures from friends and a sense of developing independence, mean that adolescence is a confusing time. time for your child. This can mean that they, for example, become distant, want more time alone or with friends, feel misunderstood, reject your attempts to talk or show affection, appear sullen and cranky, ”and you have an idea of ​​what’s going on with me right now. . And for women, like me, who have chosen to have children later in life, I imagine the same goes for them and their teenagers, male or female.

According to Dr. Joseph, the menopausal transition, or perimenopause, begins on average four years before the last menstrual period. “Twelve months of amenorrhea (no period) is considered to represent clinical menopause. The average age of onset of menopause is 51 years old, with 95% of women going through menopause between 45 and 55 years old.

She said that menopause occurs as a result of complete or almost complete depletion of the follicle pool in the ovaries. Ovarian follicles are small bags inside a woman’s ovaries that contain eggs and secrete hormones that govern the menstrual cycle.

“As the follicles are depleted, this leads to a significant decrease in the levels of estrogen hormones that cause the symptoms of menopause,” some of which do not bode well for mothers and their teens in a home together during a pandemic.

“The current pandemic has certainly had an impact on the mental health of most individuals. Financial uncertainty, change in employment status, family illness or death, new formats in school curricula and adverse world events are just a few of the factors that need to be considered. Combined with the effects of hormonal fluctuations, women in perimenopause and menopause may be more prone to experience more exaggerated emotional distress at this stage, ”said Dr. Joseph.

For over a year, the boy and I were stuck together in a house for 24 hours almost every day. We have good days and bad days, and then there are days where “difficult” is a sweet description. Working from home is nothing new to me, as I have been doing it for several years. But, this is my first experience of working from home while living with a pandemic. So having to also lead a child through SEA prep and then through the first training on the online school when the effects of our two hormones often force us to be locked in a battle for supremacy didn’t. bring out the best in me. Having to work, wash, cook, clean, supervise chores and deal with a brooding and opinionated 12-year-old can sometimes be too much to cope with in one day, and there are times when I throw in the towel angrily and seek solace in a bottle of fermented grape juice or a cocktail made with potato or agave.

“It is important to identify when these difficulties become significant enough to disrupt activities of daily living and interpersonal relationships,” advised Dr Joseph.

She promotes professional mental health counseling and therapy for women who need coping mechanisms and to identify underlying pre-existing mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression that may be worsened during perimenopause and menopause. Plus, she said, exercising regularly, at least three times a week, is a great way to help relieve symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.

“Consider meditation and yoga. “

Eating a healthy diet with reduced intake of highly processed foods, salt and sugar, she said, can also help improve symptoms.

“Herbal supplements and medications can be effective in reducing not all symptoms, but some… Hormone replacement therapy (topical or oral medications) can be helpful in some cases. Hormone replacement therapy should only be used when clinically indicated and under the direction of a healthcare practitioner with close monitoring of use due to the potential for unwanted side effects.

And when it comes to my future teenager, as his behavior sometimes puts me in a nervous breakdown, I understand and reluctantly accept that at his age, it is his “job” to push me. to the limit as he seeks to find his own identity and develop his independence. He’ll never be able to understand the biological changes I’m going through, but I vaguely remember being a preteen a lifetime ago. And whatever happens, I have to make sure he knows that no matter how much we fight, I will always be his refuge and he will never be too old to jump in my bed at night to cuddle me and talk about everything. he wants, as long as he showered first.



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