Perimenopause or Not? How to Know
Welcome to this episode of The Determined Mom Show. I have the wonderful Kathy Fritz here, and she is a board-certified master hormone coach.
It’s very exciting to have you, and this is a very interesting and perplexing, puzzling, and confusing topic that we’re gonna talk about today, and that is perimenopause or not, and how you can know if that is really what is going on with your body.
How did you get started in hormone coaching?
My background is in education, I was a high school English teacher that I would be forever. Then I had my kids, and I know you can relate to this. Suddenly you wanna change your schedule a little so you can do homework. I know you did something similar in your own business.
I switched to virtual teaching before it was the cool, trendy thing to do. That was great for about seven years. And then in the midst of all of that, I was having my hormonal imbalances. I was in my late thirties and nobody was talking about the possibility that my hormones were already shifting in per menopause.
Because believe it or not, perimenopause can start as early as 35. We think of it as this thing that happens when we are older and then we get to 38, 42. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, so we’ll get to that in a little bit.
So my doctor, trained in the medicine that she went to school for, said to me, “Okay, you can have the pill that’ll help, that’ll clear up all this stuff “. And it just didn’t sit well.
So I did my research and I found out why it didn’t sit well, because the pill turns off communication between your brain and your ovaries. I think there needs to be more communication here, not less. Long story short, my research discovered lots of different ways that I could support my hormones, and support my body as it headed toward midlife.
And something about educators, and you may know this, when we find out something and we see a need for teaching it, we’re all over that. So I started my business more from that place of an educator and just wanted to teach as many women as possible about their bodies. I got certified as a health coach and that was great and I thought I was rocking it.
And then I got certified as a master health coach and the difference I learned was between teaching and coaching, those are two different approaches. And I can get more into that in a minute. And then the last kind of piece of my puzzle was I got board certified over the summer and that.
I thought I had dealt with all of my imposter syndrome issues, but getting board certified showed me that I still had a little bit lingering there, and now being board certified, it’s gone. Like I know I’m good at my job.
I know I get women to get the results they want. I thought I had dealt with all of my imposter syndrome issues, but getting board certified showed me that I still had a little bit lingering there, and now being board certified, it’s gone. Like I know I’m good at my job. I know I get women to get the results they want.
I was so surprised because I didn’t think I had any more imposter syndrome. And then it was only after I got that board certification.
I think people do try to tell us about it. Once you’re a mom, you’ll understand, you’re not gonna change that much. And you don’t change at your core, but your priorities change.
There’s an additional layer of responsibility because we have all those options. You have to explore what’s gonna work. I didn’t. Expect to become a virtual teacher. That certainly was not why I got my master’s in teaching.
But that’s what worked, that’s what worked for me and my family. And then, when that stopped working, my interest was pulling me elsewhere, starting a business. You had told my 23-year-old self that I would never leave the classroom and start my own business.
What are some of the signs of perimenopause? How can we say it is perimenopause?
I think a lot of women try to like, use their age as the thing that would make them decide. And as I said earlier, that’s not at all an indicator.
The first thing I want you, and your listeners to know is that symptoms predate period changes. Our hormones start shifting before our period starts shifting. It’s just like when we’re going through puberty.
I have a 13-year-old, she hasn’t gotten her period yet, and believe me, she’s riding that hormonal roller coaster every month just without a bleed, So in the same way in perimenopause, we’re starting to ride a new hormonal roller coaster.
And so we’re gonna have symptoms and our periods are not necessarily going to reflect those hormonal changes. So the symptoms vary widely, woman to woman, and month to month. The common symptoms we hear about are hot flashes and insomnia.
Weight gain is starting to be talked about more. Like you’re like, wait a second. Like I thought I had a deodorant that worked well for me.
And all of a sudden you’re like, I smell all the time. So that can be a hormonal symptom.
And one of those good ways is switching up your natural geo. Another kind of less common thing is hair loss here, and then hair growth, in places you don’t want it. All of a sudden you’re like that’s a coarse hair on my neck. That’s hormonal hair. You’re having gobs of hair coming out just when you run your fingers through your hair.
For those of your listeners who have gone through a pregnancy, there’s a very common shedding that happens after the pregnancy. You know that hormones can make you lose your hair. Brittle nails are another Strange hormonal symptom.
Hot mouth, like burning mouth. Burning tongue. And here’s the thing. Not everybody has super symptomatic perimenopause. Those women you are lucky and you are not. You don’t need my services. But a lot of women are maybe not super.
Every month there are perimenopausal symptoms, but some months seem worse than others. Or, every month seems wow, like this is not fun. Those are the women that I end up working with. In my work, I always find that certain. Things are cyclical. Like I had a lot of women struggling with hair loss earlier in the spring.
I have a lot of PMDD clients right now, so PMDD is like PMs to this degree that is super life interruptive. Like your moodiness is out of control. It’s really difficult. And so right now I just seem to have more of those clients.
It changed again there. It seems seasonal, almost like where people are drawn to work with me. So that’s an overuse of perimenopause or not? If you are noticing month to month that you’re having these experiences and if you are unhappy, if you do not like the symptoms, if you believe that your body’s trying to tell you something, follow that intuition.
If you are unhappy and you’re having symptoms regularly, and even if those symptoms are varying month to month, then there are things that you can do to help your body naturally balance your hormones.
Do you do a lot of tracking?
I again follow my client’s lead. For some clients, tracking makes a lot of sense. Like my PMDD clients, they tend to track because they really wanna understand when my tough symptoms start. And then what tools am I gonna employ before and during that really difficult time?
So in that situation, yes, they’re gonna track, other clients might track for a little bit, maybe they’re trying to see if they have a food sensitivity or maybe they’re curious. How much is my period? Changing month to month. Is it consistently at 26 days now instead of 28?
So when they want data, then they will track it. I leave that up to them. We certainly can have a conversation about it. But it’s always from a place of curiosity and on my part, what is it you wanna learn about your body, and is tracking the best way to do it?
Those two stories do not always level out. They’re not always telling the same story. So doctors are interested in the testing story. What does your urine say? What does your blood say? I’m interested in your symptom story.
If you want to do hormone testing, Go right ahead and it can certainly give you more information about what’s going on in your body. I wouldn’t say to do it, but it’s not part of what I do. And it’s pretty much never covered by insurance because it’s preventative.
But the symptomatic story. It’s the thing that matters to me and my clients usually because it doesn’t matter what their blood or their urine is saying they’re having this experience and that’s what they need help with.
Now I don’t want this to come across like I’m, being mean about doctors. I love partnering with doctors. Because they had great medical training. They know way more. Certain aspects of a woman’s body than I do. I like to partner with them because they want their patients to get relief too.
I don’t, I have never read anything about this, but if I were just to use my like, educated guess since perimenopause can start at 35 the hormonal, the sex hormonal shift that exists during perimenopause is slowly but surely, your progesterone is decreasing throughout perimenopause, and your estrogen is doing this kind of up and down months to month until it also starts to decrease.
So then at the end of perimenopause, once you’ve hit menopause, your progesterone and your estrogen are pretty. So that can, that process can start as early as 35. So I’m guessing that they assigned an advanced maternal age to anything over 35, recognizing that this sex hormone change can start as early as 35.
A lot of thyroid issues get triggered by pregnancy, and that all has to do with this brain recalibration. Perimenopause is another brain recalibration time. What’s interesting to me about this is that perimenopause is a window of opportunity.
During this window of opportunity, we get to make choices about how we fuel our bodies, move our bodies, and treat our bodies that are gonna impact our longevity, that is gonna impact the quality of our golden years. So that’s another reason, like this is where the educator me comes out.
This information is essential to get to women in their late thirties, or early forties because your window of opportunity is from your Paris during perimenopause. Once you hit menopause, which is 12 months, be between your most recent bleed.
When it’s been 12 months since you’ve had a bleed, then you, that is your menopause day. After that, your post. A lot of times people will call, use the word menopausal to refer to that, but just technically menopause is one day.
And in the work you’re doing, the marketing and Google Business and all of that stuff, there’s a narrative there that, as a woman, I am finding myself pushing up against. And your podcast and your client work are helping me change that narrative. And so I’m trying to do the same with this, all this midlife stuff.
I think it’s important to celebrate when we have these kinds of big moments in our lives as women menopause to me is a time where I get to, I’ll get to shed. One identity and embrace another one.
Menopause is a time of wisdom. It’s a time of being able to guide others and embracing yours. Success. And I, and that doesn’t have to be financial. I feel like too often the words success and financial are married to each other.
But success can look like a lot of different things. Maybe it’s that all your kids are out of your house. Maybe it’s that you didn’t choose to have kids, and now because you’re in menopause, you can do all the traveling you wanted to do without worrying about when are I getting your period, how much do I have to bring, product wise and, medication wise so I don’t, be crampy or whatever. I think there’s a lot to celebrate there.
Where can everyone get more information about working with you about what you do and how you can help us figure out if it is perimenopause or not?
Head over to my website, Kathy fritz coaching.com and write on that. Page, I have four surprising ways to produce your hot flashes, insomnia, and waistline. So that is an awesome free resource that I have and you can certainly poke around on that website. I’m also going to be launching a membership shortly.
I recommend that anyone listening who is curious about getting that free download will be in. And that way when that membership rolls out, you can hop right in. If you are struggling though I recommend you just set up a call with me. We’ll meet, we’ll talk, I’ll hear all about what’s going on and we’ll go from there.