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Image / Editorial

The Menopause Diaries: Fake Periods leave me with cramps, bloating and PMT … but no period


by IMAGE
25th Nov 2020

Blue Letter M over a white background.

Helen Seymour is in Peri-Menopause, or at least she thinks she is. In her weekly column, we follow her journey towards the Menopause, learning as she does all about the big M.


Day One in the Big Brother House. That’s if Big Brother is Peri-Menopause and he’s called you into the Diary Room to tell you your period has finally arrived.

I WAS worried. I’d skipped two full cycles, and when you’re in Peri-Menopause you can skip cycles for several months at a time. I’m booked in to see Professor Studd soon. And what do I need for that visit? Other than a plane ticket and a travel card? A detailed set of bloods that’s what, with a Progesterone test that requires that you must state what day of your cycle you are on for an accurate result.

So, yes, I’m hugely relieved that there won’t be appointment re-bookings etc. The delay however, and my experience of it, is a good opportunity to talk about “Fake Periods”.

I have always been like clockwork with my period. You could literally set your watch by it. However, since that first burst of crazy hot flushes, my Peri-Menopause body has skipped two entire cycles, and yet during this time, I got what I can only describe as “Fake Periods”. I felt like I was ovulating. My breasts felt tender. I got PMT and sugar cravings. I put on a few pounds, which always happens to me the week before my period, and then they drop the minute it arrives. But with these fake periods, my weight went up and remained the same, despite pulling back on the calories and exercising like a mad woman.

Related: The Menopause Diaries: The dreaded dryness down under

THEN … the big Kahuna.

No period, but fake period pains. Like there really was a period happening. Two full cycles where my body went through the motions of ovulation, PMT, and then cramps and pains like I was actually having a period. So I Google “Fake Periods Menopause”. And of course, lots of things come up, the most helpful of which is a “QA” with Eileen Duward on the A.Vogel website. She says that as you’re approaching Menopause, you start to miss periods, or get very scant periods, but you will find that when your period is due you still get all the usual symptoms; PMT, bloating, cramping, food cravings and breast tenderness.

Eileen helpfully explains that this is quite natural because even though your hormone levels are falling, you will still get that monthly cycle. The problem is your hormones will not be high enough to trigger a bleed, but they will still be high enough to give you all the other common symptoms. And sometimes this cycle can actually last a couple of years after your periods have stopped for good.

Related: I’m hoping Carole Vorderman’s doctor will help with the Peri-Menopause headache

BOOM.

In your face Fox News. Fake periods are real. Eileen cautions, that with both Pre and Post Menopausal Fake Periods, if you are experiencing a lot of pain, if you are getting to the point where you have to take painkillers every day, it is really important to get this checked out by your Doctor.

There are other issues such as fibroids, or a prolapse, that can actually cause these problems as well, so it is really important to get that seen to.

My real period has arrived a week before my 50th Birthday. I travel to Kenmare with friends, eat all the food, drink all the drink, blow out the candles, and then I hotfoot it to Beaumont Hospital on Day 9, hoping alcohol won’t knock off the result of the Progesterone Blood Test.

This article was first published in August 2018.


Read more: Over half of Irish women are using ineffective contraception to prevent pregnancy, a new study shows

Read more: Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, details her pregnancy loss this past summer

Read more: Scottish politicians vote on universal access to period products today: here’s why it matters

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