Yes, seriously. Looking back, I remember a colleague in Arkansas who would suddenly run and open a window in the middle of winter, murmuring something about hot flashes. And my dear friend Denise has forever coined the phrase in our family, “Is it hot in here, or is it just me?” But when I entered perimenopause last year, I was not prepared for what followed! Why is this subject still taboo? People, let’s talk about menopause.

OK, I get it. This is awkward.

I posted a little video on Instagram which… yep. We go there.

Menopause isn’t a fun subject. To discuss middle age, we must face the fact that we are… aging. Yikes. We also have to say words like vagina. And isn’t the phrase, “night sweats” just creepy? Yep, straight out of a horror film. Not to mention, how can this even be a reality when I’m in my 40’s or even mid-30’s?!

We know what to expect when we start our period… we should also know what to expect when it ends.

Menopause start and finish

The Mayo Clinic defines perimenopause as “the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.” It seems we each enter perimenopause at a different age; I was 46 but some women notice changes as early as in their mid-30’s.

How did I know this was happening? I could feel something was different with my body, and proactively set up an appointment with my doctor. But I recognize that I have the luxury of booking an ad-hoc doctor’s appointment and have a cool doc who was willing to talk it through. If you aren’t in the same position, here’s what I learned:

  • In perimenopause, your estrogen is fluctuation. This means your cycle may become unpredictable.
  • You may experience menopause-like symptoms like hot flashes or sleep problems (check, check).
  • Settle in – this lasts a while. Cleveland Clinic suggests average duration is four years. Medically, you don’t exit peri and go full into menopause until you’ve gone 12 full months without a period.

Let’s help each other out.

By talking about our own experiences, we create space for others to do the same. Personally, I suddenly gained weight in my midsection (Hello, totally different body shape!) but didn’t experience many of the other symptoms. And when I shared this with a friend, she mentioned recent mood swings, then decided to go see her doctor. You see? Sometimes, we just need a nudge. Because as women, we can be known to put our own health last. We care for everyone else and grit our teeth as we “power through,” writing off discomfort and ignoring potentially concerning symptoms.

So this World Menopause Day, go get your health checked. Or reach out to someone you know is going through physical changes and send some love. Because our bodies are the greatest equalizer, aren’t they? We’re all human and we all go through it. May as well do it together, helping each other out, and drinking lots of wine along the way.

menopause wine glass | i'm still hot it just comes in flashes now

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Photo credit for menopause wordcloud