I thought I had this monthly period thing all down pat. Spot on every 28 days, for 5 days. Heavy for the first few days and it petered out by the 5 day. The usual usage of alternating Ponstan with Nurofen for the stomach and leg pain first few days. No biggy.
Then I turned 40 and things started to go a bit haywire. My periods were a lot heavier and more painful. They don’t peter out anymore. They stop mid way, lulling me into a sense of believe it had been all done and dusted and then surprise! it’s back with a vengeance. Thank goodness for period undies.
I was having coffee with my best friend when we were talking about going to the Drs and she had been having issues with her periods too. I’m a month older than her, so I started wondering why we were having these issues.
After a chat to my own doctor, she informed me that what I, and my friend, were going through was perimenopause and completely normal.
To be honest, I had never heard of perimenopause and had to Google it when I got home.
Of course, like most women, I thought you had the “normal” monthly fun times until late 40s/early 50s and then you went through menopause.
In a world where menstruation is still a taboo subject, the transition between your reproductive years and menopause is even more mysterious. How many women actually know the ins and outs about this phase of life?
So what is perimenopause? Basically, it’s a change before THE change.
Well, on top of kids, maybe a partner, work, ageing parents – all the while trying to figure out how to find time for yourself, let alone catching up with friends. You start getting symptoms like fatigue, hot flushes, sleep disruption, and low libido, and that’s the joy of perimenopause for you.
Our perimenopausal experience can be pretty reliably predicted by our mother’s. Unfortunately, for reasons including stigma, sadness over losing fertility and “femaleness,” as well as the shame of being inside an ageing female body, women don’t often talk to anyone, much less their daughters. So many women have no idea what to expect and are gobsmacked by the sudden changes. My own mother had a hysterectomy in her late 30s, so she didn’t go through perimenopause and went straight onto HRT.
The average age of the onset of menopause is 51. But the perimenopausal process can anywhere from two to 10 years (and sometimes even longer), before that; most enter this fog sometime in their 40s, but many women may start noticing changes even earlier.
For some, perimenopause means irregular or heavy periods. Others experience “flooding,”, which is unfortunately exactly what it sounds like: Periods so heavy you regularly bleed through tampons and pads. Then there are some for whom perimenopause comes bearing migraine headaches (or making existing migraines worse).
PMS can get worse too. Hooly dooly, has that happened here. I’m such a moody cow the week before my period. Teary and upset at the drop of a hat, irritable/ annoyed easily and the worst munchies (give me ALL the food!).
Did you know about perimenopause and what it entails?