I want to tell you this now, so that you can file it away in the back part of your brain and access it later when you need it. “Oh yeah,” you’ll think. “I remember reading this somewhere.” Note to your future self: that somewhere was on Iowa City Moms.
I’m sure you’ve all heard of menopause, which is defined as 12 months after a woman gets her last period. That’s it. It’s really just one day.
And if you’re like me, any information you have passively gleaned from mass media is that menopause looks like an older woman fanning herself and having unreasonable mood swings, often played for laughs.
What we need to talk about today is perimenopause, a word which is apparently so unknown that my phone puts a red squiggly line under it. Because while menopause is a defined time (that “12 months after your last period” stuff) and usually happens to a woman in her 40s or 50s, perimenopause can begin as much as ten years before that time.
That means that if your periods are going to stop when you are 46, you might experience symptoms when you are 36.
I’m sorry to tell you, but I thought someone ought to let you know. Otherwise you might not know where to start when you realize you can’t sleep for no apparent reason, or you are waking up sweaty.
Here are a few symptoms of perimenopause, with a nice scientific article with even more information.
- Irregular periods
- Hot flashes or night sweats
- Mood changes
- Changes in sexual function
- Weird changes to your breasts (swelling, hypersensitivity)—that one isn’t on the Mayo clinic page, but it’s reported by a friend of mine
I’ve also heard stories of women getting a rogue period even after they’re sure they are through with menopause.
Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll ever be confident enough to wear white pants.
Isn’t being a woman fun? From the mood swings that can begin even before puberty, to the effects of loss of estrogen later in life. So much to look forward to! Maybe you can do so from the end of your very own dock.