Understanding "Not Feeling Like Myself" in Perimenopause: Insights from the Women Living Better Survey

Understanding "Not Feeling Like Myself" in Perimenopause: Insights from the Women Living Better Survey

Entering perimenopause can be a challenging phase. One of the most exciting parts of women's healthcare these days is that more women scientists and researchers are getting funding and green lights to do really important nuanced study into perimenopause and menopause. 


Perimenopause is marked by a myriad of physical, emotional, and psychological changes. So many of these challenges don't have symptomology or understanding and are so easily dismissed by health care professionals, women themselves even question if it is a symptom or just a weird feeling that persists. Among these principle feelings that can be easily dismissed as nothing, or would be ignored when forming a diagnosis of perimenopause is an extremely commonly reported experience of "not feeling like myself" (NFLM).

As it is a really common, yet totally dismissed symptom of just not feeling like yourself, women who have had these kinds of conversations with a healthcare practitioner in the past can be easily gaslit, dismissed, ignored or laughed at (as many first hand accounts can prove). So the recent PubMed study conducted by Coslov, Richardson and Woods, titled,  ""Not feeling like myself" in perimenopause - what does it mean?" whereby the authors used observations from the Women Living Better survey they conducted on perimenopausal woman, is such an important step in identifying and symptomologising this nebulous and easily dismissed symptom of perimenopause.

The study delves into the meaning of this phrase by examining its relationship with various 61 symptoms reported by women on the path to menopause. By exploring this relationship, they aimed to shed light on the underlying factors contributing to NFLM and its implications for perimenopause care.

Key Findings of the study: 
The study surveyed participants on the frequency of experiencing NFLM over the past three months, along with their ratings of bother associated with 61 symptoms commonly associated with perimenopause. Here are the key findings:

1. Prevalence of NFLM: A significant proportion of participants (63.3%) reported experiencing NFLM 50% of the time or more over the previous three months, highlighting the pervasive nature of this phenomenon among women transitioning into perimenopause.

2. Correlation with Symptoms: Several individual symptoms exhibited strong correlations with NFLM, indicating their potential role in contributing to this subjective experience. These symptoms included fatigue, feeling overwhelmed or less able to cope, low feelings, anxiety, irritability, difficulty concentrating, decision-making challenges, internal restlessness, forgetfulness, tearfulness, and increased worrying.

3. Predictors of NFLM: A two-stage regression analysis identified predictors of NFLM, revealing that lower levels of education and higher overall stress ratings were significant factors in the first stage. In the second stage, specific symptom groups emerged as significant predictors, including anxiety/vigilance, fatigue/pain, brain fog, sexual symptoms, and volatile mood symptoms.

Implications for Perimenopause Care:
Understanding the symptoms associated with NFLM is crucial for healthcare providers in delivering comprehensive and effective perimenopause care. By recognizing these symptoms, providers can offer more accurate expectations to women navigating this phase of life and tailor interventions to address their individual needs. Moreover, identifying predictors of NFLM, such as education level and stress levels, enables healthcare professionals to implement targeted strategies for symptom management and support.

In summary, "not feeling like myself" is a common experience reported by women during perimenopause, with significant correlations observed with various physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms. By elucidating the factors contributing to NFLM and its associated symptomatology, this study provides valuable insights for healthcare providers in optimizing perimenopause care. Recognizing the nuanced manifestations of NFLM and addressing its underlying contributors can empower women to navigate this transitional phase with greater understanding and support.


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