Monday, February 06, 2017

Peri-menopause. Let's talk about it!!

I am totally going through Peri-menopause! I can't believe it and I'm so happy to put my finger on it!

I'm 10 days late for my period and crossing my fingers that it just continues the whole year. But it got me wondering about menopause and when it starts and why don't we talk about it? (Besides hot flashes, I mean. It seems everyone talks about those.) I feel like when we're having lunch with friends someone would say, "Hey! Best news ever! I've stopped having my period!" And we could all congratulate and be super excited and have a better understanding of what to expect ourselves. Why does this not happen?!

It's going to take this new generation, I guess.  (Courtney's generation who comfortably went to the maturation program and talked all about their periods with their friends and turned "becoming a woman" into something that was "no big deal." As opposed to our generation where adults and people "in charge" told our moms they needed to make a big deal about how it's so beautiful to become a woman and take us to dinner to celebrate.

But really sitting there with your dad and mom talking about "becoming a woman" was just super awkward. Because no 12-year-old really thinks, "I'm a woman now! I'm so excited to bleed every month for the next 40 or 50 years! Cramps? Cool! Pads? Comfy! Tampons? Why not? Potentially break-through bleeding for all the world to see? It happens to everyone! Can't wait! And let's go to dinner with just my mom and my dad and talk all about it!"

So glad that in this new generation we can talk about periods in a much more normal way. "It sucks, but you'll get used to it and surprisingly it won't be any big deal. It's all good. No, you're definitely not a "woman" yet. Yes, you've started having your period, but rest assured, you are welcome to still be a kid."

So, let's talk about menopause.

What I learned from THE INTERNET is peri-menopause lasts approximately 4 years. When you start skipping periods, that's at the end of peri-menopause. (Haven't determined if that's the last 2 years, or the last year or what. The information is still VERY GENERAL people!!) When you've gone a whole year without your period, you're officially in menopause.

Other peri-menopause symptoms are sore breasts, vaginal dryness, lack of sex drive, waking at night, increased mood swings, weight gain without change in exercise or eating etc. etc.

Seriously? That's what you give us? Aren't those just the symptoms of being a woman?
  * Unexplained weight gain. (Umm ok. This applies to everybody at every stage of life.)
  * Mood swings. (How do they determine the difference between hormonal mood swings vs. raising teenagers making you crazy moodiness?).
  * Waking at night (I thought I was just in the habit since I was woken in the middle of the night for the past 21 years with children! Babies, Toddlers, Kindergartners, Teens coming home late.)
  * Sore breasts (I regularly assume this is because of many possibilities: have I gained weight? am I about to start my period? Pregnant? Phantom nursing feelings? (that's totally a real thing))
  * Lack of sex drive (exhausted? worried about your kids or family? bugged at your husband? Too busy? kids awake at all hours (i.e. no privacy), and again... exhausted?)
  * Not feeling well from hormonal imbalances. Looking back there have been long periods of time when I'm sitting quietly and I think, "I don't feel well. I really don't. I think this is what a doctor would call 'general malaise.'" Kind of like I was pregnant or something.

So. Peri-menopause sounds like something you look back on and say, "Oh! I was in peri-menopause! That's why I've felt crazy for the past FOUR years! I thought it was just part of being a woman/Mom/Mom of teenagers/woman needing a change!"

Some more specific information gathered from my research:

  * Shorter than normal menstrual cycles (apparently "Normal" ranges from 21 - 35 days. So again, not super specific.) But many, many years ago (maybe after Nicholas was born), I switched from 31 to 26 days.  Also only lasted 2 days. Sometimes 3. But I've been like that for so long, it's hard to say it indicates anything.

Well last year (on Pioneer Trek, which was fun), I was surprised at 21 days. 5 days early. And then again this year another time. And then a few months later 28 days. And now this month 35 days (let's keep it going!).

I've read that you'll skip your period a time or two and then have super heavy bleeding the next month. (This has happened to a couple of friends who suddenly had super heavy bleeding every month for a very long time and they ended up just getting hysterectomies because that's simply no way to live. Really, they were homebound. It was that bad.)

So, late menopause begins when you've entirely skipped a period -- 60 days without "flow." (Oh man, the word "flow" still makes me cringe. Let's create a new word, PLEASE!)

A "very large study" of women ages 40 - 55 showed they averaged about 3 years from irregular menstruation (early or late periods) to final menstruation. As for the timing from first skipped period to last period ever THERE IS NO INFORMATION! 50% of our PLANET goes through this and no one has taken a survey or documented? I might need to start a March so we can get accurate Menopause information.

There was a study of 324 woman... (SERIOUSLY?!  I could do a study of 324 woman in about 5 seconds by using the Relief Society directory. Or texting my friends. It sounds like what I'm going to have to do. I need older friends.) ...but anyway, this study, determined that "many" (no clarification of how many) experienced 6 months without periods and then started regular periods again for another 6 months.

Anyway, I'm game! One less is one less. I'll take it.  So I think I'm on the 3 year countdown. I really do. This is sort of like a revelation to me. And I'm also going to chalk up the super-losing-it-kind-of-a-breakdown experience last Spring to peri-menopause. Makes me feel much better.

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