Perimenopause Primer

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Perimenopause Primer, Ellen Dolgen, The Three Tomatoes

MYTH: Menopause happens when you’re old.


Perimenopause typically begins somewhere between your late 30’s and late 40’s – when you’re young, vibrant and BUSY! Surprised? You bet. Many women are shocked and blindsided when they start experiencing perimenopause symptoms. They just aren’t prepared for the perimenopause and menopause storm to begin. (I like to call it PM&M for short.)

So, what to do when you start experiencing PM&M? Here’s a quick primer on the symptoms, so you’ll be ready for all the fun!

First, let’s clarify the difference between perimenopause and menopause. Perimenopause is the 6-10 year symptom-laden time in your life before you reach menopause. Menopause, on the other hand, does not occur until you’ve been period-free for 12 consecutive months. The average age for this is 51 years young.

The perimenopause experience is different for everyone. There are about 34 symptoms of PM&M. Many women breeze right through PM&M with relatively few symptoms (lucky gals!). Others suffer tremendously with symptoms like sleeplessness, memory loss, extreme emotional highs and lows, anxiety, depression, and hot flashes, just to name a few. Oh joy!

The most important thing to remember is this: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There are over 50 million women in menopause in North America, and when you add all of the women in perimenopause, their husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, children, brothers, sisters, and co-workers—just about everyone has a little PM&M in their life.

So, be prepared! As with any medical condition or health issue, it’s important to keep track of your symptoms. In my book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness, I’ve created the Shmirshky Daily Symptoms Chart to make this easy for you. Charting your PM&M symptoms is a great reference for your doctor or specialist to refer to when they are trying to help you feel better. Charting makes their job easier and helps you understand your body quicker!

Here’s another little tip: Show this chart to your loved ones and the people you spend your life with. Once they see all the symptoms listed, it will help them better understand what you’re going through. We all need support in our live; no one can go it alone. It’s up to you to reach out for the help and support you deserve. You too can find hormone happiness! Remember: Reaching out is IN. Suffering in silence is OUT.


  • For health advocate and menopause expert Ellen Dolgen, menopause education is a mission. Spurred by her own experience struggling with the symptoms of menopause, Dolgen has devoted the last ten years of her life to helping other women during this often difficult time. As a result of the overwhelming response from her burgeoning audiences and followers’ requests for empowering information they could trust, and her Menopause MondaysTM Blog was born. Together with her son, Jack, she created a FREE eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause, a comprehensive guide to all things menopause—the symptoms, the treatments, and the long-range effects on a woman’s health. Dolgen shares the expertise of numerous specialists to replace confusion and embarrassment with medically sound solutions, presented in an entertaining and informative way. There you will find detailed descriptions and treatments for the symptoms you or your loved one may experience, from hot flashes and mood swings to mental fogginess and loss of libido, and lots more in between. Visit Ellen at: Get her free e-Book:

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