Magnolia2In May of 1998, I was 41 years old.  I had just graduated from college with an = accounting degree; I was embarking on a new career as a CPA, and exploring a budding and exciting romance with a handsome (and much younger) military officer.

After five long years of struggling through a prior divorce, attending college, and raising two young children by myself, I was ready for a change. But little did I know that the change to come would be far more than I had bargained for.

While I had noticed I had become more moody and prone to emotional outbursts in the previous years, it never occurred to me it was because I was entering perimenopause. Like many women who enter perimenopause in their early 40s, I had never heard of it. Yes, I knew one day I would become menopausal.  But, what I didn’t know is that I would first enter a transition period called “peri” menopause, which would take me on the hormone ride of my life.

It began with an unexpected, mid-cycle period.  Having never experienced anything but timely and consistent menstrual cycles my entire adult life, it certainly caught my attention.  But, with the arrival of my expected cycle two weeks later, I dismissed it as a fluke. What I didn’t know – again – was that the mid-cycle period also reset my ovulation cycle, which in turn, caused me to unexpectedly conceive my third child.  A marriage quickly followed, along with my daughter’s birth.

By the time I was 44 I had given up my accounting career to raise three young children, and was firmly in the perimenopause years.  Raging mood swings, depression, hot flashes and night sweats; erratic menstrual cycles, insomnia, and a host of other very confusing and overwhelming symptoms had taken over my life. Unfortunately, the dashing, young military officer, who was now my husband, had not the first clue how to help his new bride, and so I also found myself struggling alone with my symptoms.

Like many women, I went from physician to physician looking for help.  Also like many women, I was offered synthetic hormones, antidepressants, and birth control pills.  In desperation, I tried them all, but quickly abandoned them when they brought no relief.  I struggled for many years with my symptoms, and unfortunately, was never able to find the help that I desperately wanted and needed.

In my frustration, I also took to the Internet to try and understand what was happening, and what, if anything, I could do about it.  It was in those years that I realized just how few resources and reliable information is available to women going through perimenopause. What information I could find was often vague, confusing, and contradictory.

The traditional medical community offered only “medication and drugs,” and was often impatient and dismissive. There was certainly no shortage of charlatans and snake-oil salesmen either.  All claimed to have just the right potion and magic pill to alleviate all of my hormonal misery for just “$19.99 plus shipping.”

I’m proud to tell you I’ve come a long way since then.  For the past seven years, I have been researching and writing in earnest about perimenopause, and publishing my work online.  I became certified as a healthcare consumer advocate, and entered graduate school to earn my master’s and doctorate degrees in medical anthropology.

I am a passionate advocate for women going through perimenopause who, like me, want more than medication and drugs to help with their symptoms. I discovered bioidentical hormones as an alternative to synthetic drugs and birth control pills, and found a growing number of medical professionals like the physicians at Ageology, who are also passionate about helping women in perimenopause.

Perimenopause can be a difficult transition for many women.  If you’re one of them, rest assured, there are many available treatment options as alternatives to synthetic drugs and birth control pills. And remember, on the other side of the turbulent waters of perimenopause, are the quiet seas of menopause!

Magnolia Miller is a health writer and certified healthcare consumer advocate who blogs and writes regularly at The Perimenopause Blog and