Friday, February 21, 2020

Perimenopause Update: I started counting

A daily planner page with the note "period day 1" at the top
It started with a missed period about two years ago.  I wasn't having sex with anyone at the time, so pregnancy wasn't a possibility.  I'd had a pretty horrible year dealing with a deep round of depression, anxiety, and was under a lot of financial stress. I chalked it up to that and moved on.

Then it happened again. And I knew.

Still, I googled it:  What are the signs of perimenopause?

Missed periods...mood swings...weight gain...bloating...pimples...hot flashes...

And you can expect this all to start happening roughly around the same time as it did for your mother or other uterus bearing biologically close relatives.

I texted my mother.

"When did you start experiencing the symptoms of perimenopause?"

"In my late 40s I think."

Confirmed.

The process of perimenopause really is a lot like puberty in reverse.  For me this has meant hormone fluctuation induced mood swings. Bloating.  More bloating.  Along with an embarrassing amount of gas. I have wondered if my GHG impact has increased due to the increase in gaseous emissions that regularly burst forth from my body.

I had to face and process my own internalized ageism. I remembered all those thoughts I had growing up about how I would be the one who didn't bemoan middle age. That I would LOVE my body and handle aging with the utmost grace. A thought that, when I found myself crying in the shower for the third time in a week, just made me think I was not only failing myself but any young person who might be going through this experience in the future.

It has meant periods that appear out of the blue two weeks after my prior one ended.  And let me tell you about flooding, where the number of hours that it is predicted a pad will last becomes utterly meaningless. As I'm changing the utterly laughable "10 hour" blood-soaked pad for the third time that day, I ask myself if I should be concerned that my body can push out this much blood and I'm not fainting.

Just as suddenly it stops.  I stock the bathroom shelves with super-maxi-12-hour blood diapers only to have my next three periods be barely a whisper. 

I have had cramps like I've not felt since I was 15 and would lay in bed with a heating pad hugged to my belly.  And the pimples - ugh.  Honestly having breakouts at 48 is not something I want to be dealing with.

So, is it any wonder that last week when I noted that, according to my calendar, I'd not had a period since December, I felt a little bit hopeful?

Menopause occurs when you have not had a period for 12 months.  I was nearly at three.  That's a quarter of the way there!  I'd heard from others about the hopeful counts...

"I went 11 months and then...BOOM! Bloody underwear when I woke up this morning."

"363 days and it came back."

I knew from my research that statistically menopause would likely occur at about the same time as when my mother experienced it.  For her this was 50, which is still two years away for me. But maybe, just maybe I'd be different?

I should not have been surprised when this morning I got up to pee and discovered that the countdown clock needed to be reset.  I sighed, grabbed a pad from the shelf, and went about my morning routine.

I made a note in my planner.  Period - Day 1.



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