You know darn well that if menopause and perimenopause happened to men, they would have figured out a magic pill by now. So why aren’t we figuring things out for ourselves? I think it’s because we’re not talking about it. Also, it’s because women are strong and can handle hard things.
Menopause is our bodies’ reverse mirror image of puberty, and you remember how well that went for us women the first time around.
Honestly, if menopause were simply the cessation of my period and the beginning of my non-reproductive years, I would herald this sh*t with welcoming arms the way I do all other aspects of getting older, wiser and more awesome – but alas, there’s a bit more to it than that.
Menopause is quite literally a morass of mystery. It can be defined as the first year of not having your period for a full year – but anytime the experts are defining something using a negative, you’re generally in trouble.
Menopause typically happens after age 45. The thing is, just like we never know when our period is going to come for the first time as young women – we also have no clue when our period is going to come for the LAST time. Tough facts time: we don’t even know we’re in menopause until we’ve gone whole a year without having a period!
Instead, what we get is this hellish, interminable in-between stage known as perimenopause which basically means that your period is going to end at some point and meanwhile there’s weird hormonal stuff going on in your body. Symptoms may or may not include being irritable, hot and sweaty, moody, unable to get a good night’s sleep to save your life, and a whole host of other possibly related annoyances. Oh, and it can last for YEARS.
Maybe this is why no one talks about it – because it’s frustrating, there’s no clear solution and it’s all so ambiguous and mysterious. Like, am I moody and irritated because of perimenopausal hormonal crap going on in my body, or because our entire government is a gigantic dumpster fire?
Honestly, I don’t even know why I’m complaining because I’m actually having a fairly good perimenopause as these things go. I’m having far fewer periods, which I like, plus the laundry list of possible symptoms has been keeping to a dull roar. My main complaint is interrupted sleep and extreme hotness/sweatiness at night – but typically I just get up, put on a clean, dry t-shirt and try to avoid falling down the rabbit hole of looking at my phone. I eventually make it back to sleep.
Waking up every night between 1 and 3 am is certainly annoying, but it’s not the end of the world and I’ve been handling it okay. Turns out I don’t need as much sleep as I thought I did – possibly because I’ve amassed so many tattoos by this point in my life that I’m basically immortal.
Also, sometime this year I inadvertently figured out that being on Whole 30 – or at least avoiding white flour and sugar – can cut back on my bizarro-world perimenopausal symptoms and actually allow me to get back to sleeping through the night. So that’s a big win!
In general, I am doing my best to see this perimenopausal time as a positive thing. It’s like a wakeup call from life that it’s time to ramp up the self care. I’m refocusing on all the things that make my physical body feel good and healthy and strong – like eating clean, walking or exercising, massage, stretching or doing yoga, taking extra good care of my skin and hair and teeth, and so on.
I’m also recommitting to all the things that make my heart, spirit, mind and soul feel good and healthy – like eating chocolate, spending time with friends, traveling, doing things that scare me and taking in as many sunrises and sunsets as I can in gorgeous, living color. The best part is that doing all of these things makes me feel good in general, plus they ALSO help me deal with the symptoms of perimenopause. So, it’s a win/win.
What has been your experience with perimenopause or menopause – and how have you been dealing with the symptoms and mystery of it all? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below or over on Facebook. Also, I found this great article about perimenopause after publishing this blog post, and it’s definitely worth a read.