What is perimenopause?
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If you’d told my 30-year-old self that one day I’d be grateful for an official diagnosis of perimenopause, I would have said, “Get outta town.” But that’s exactly how I feel: grateful. Elated even.
After a year wondering what was wrong with me and spending hours hobbling together my own research and wasting time talking with doctors who quickly dismissed my questions about perimenopause, I finally have a diagnosis. And from a perimenopause expert, no less.
I have perimenopause and I’m proud. I think? In addition to the aforementioned gratitude and glee, I have mixed emotions. Peri is annoying — but less so now that I’ve begun taking progesterone. On the plus side, I feel empowered, grown up, confident, and more in control of my health and well-being.
How did I finally get a diagnosis for perimenopause — plus, a prescription for hormones? It comes down to sharing my story on the Internet. After announcing my problems on Facebook, I heard from Erika Hobbs, a Chicago Sun-Times reporter. Erika contacted me for a quote in her story, Perimenopause is real — and something women should discuss with their physicians. I was so excited that somebody cared that I ranted for a good 15 minutes. “I don’t understand why it’s so hard to find help and relief for perimenopause,” I said. Thankfully, she listened intently, and said, “Have you heard of Dr. Streicher?” “No,” I said, “But tell me more.”
Dr. Lauren Streicher is the medical director of the Northwestern Medicine Center for Sexual Medicine and Menopause in Chicago and author of Sex Rx-Hormones, Health, and Your Best Sex Ever and The Essential Guide to Hysterectomy. I made an appointment right quick, and was so delighted to learn that there was an entire office of specialists ready to help we women in our prime.
Dr. Streicher’s office is merely an hour drive from where I live in the Chicago suburbs — so why did it take so long to find her team of perimenopause specialists? Unfortunately, even with the internet, it can take time to find the help you need. Which is one of the main reasons why I started Jumble & Flow.
I’d wasted too much time Googling terms like “perimenopause doctor” and “doctors who specialize in perimenopause,” only to feel unsure of who to trust. I’ve learned that relying on your local OB/Gyn to cover All The Lady Problems is not a surefire solution.
Dr. Traci A. Kurtzer, MD, a member of Dr. Streicher’s group at Northwestern Medical, says that OBs who specialize in pregnancy and delivery are not your best bet. (I know, duh.) Instead, invest your energy into finding a doctor who specializes in women’s sexual health post-delivery.
At this point in history, we have to become our own health strategists in order to find the specialists and resources we need to treat perimenopause.
If you live in North America, Dr. Kurtzer recommends searching the North American Menopause Society site for doctors who treat menopause. Keep in mind that NAMS serves as a starting point, and does not endorse or recommend these doctors. Also keep in mind that the website design and functionality is a bit outdated and that you’ll need to follow the instructions in order to produce results.
So the important question is: Have you found a fantastic perimenopause doctor? If yes, share your recommendations in Comments below or email email@example.com.
New to perimenopause? Read our empowering guide to everything you need to know about this under-understood phase of life.
Amy Cuevas Schroeder is the cofounder and Chief Content Officer of Jumble & Flow, the new lifestyle brand that empowers women to thrive in midlife. She started her first business, Venus Zine, in her dorm room at Michigan State University, and later sold the company. She now lives in the Chicago area, and is raising twin girls with her husband, Martin, a social worker. By day, Amy works for Fable.co, founded by Padmasree Warrior. She also has worked as a content leader for Etsy, Minted, and Abstract.
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Adventures in Perimenopause, essays by women in perimenopause and menopause
In My Prime: interviews with women thriving in midlife
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