Menopause, Overture #2 or “I’m a Menopause Mentor.”

26th May 2013

Menopause Mentor. That’s me. To anyone whose mother never spoke of female bodily functions, or died too young, or who doesn’t have an older female friend with whom they can talk about this….. here I am. Sharing my experiences, thoughts, actions related to menopause. Because as momentous a change as puberty deserves the same attention!

First, let’s take a step back and visit the Land of Perimenopause. Yes, that’s a thing. And nobody—but nobody— talks about this stuff! There I was, 38 years old wondering what terrible disease I might have that made me wake up at night with the sheets soaking wet with sweat.

I did what everyone has done since the advent of the internet: I looked it up online. The case couldn’t be made for tuberculosis, so perimenopause seemed a decent match. Even my primary care doctor at that time seemed to be clueless — he said, “You’re too young for that.” And dismissed any further conversation. The information I’d found said that perimenopausal symptoms start in a woman’s 40s but in some women as early as their mid-30s. Take THAT, doc!

What does perimenopause really mean? No surprise that it means your body is transitioning, hormone factories (your ovaries) winding down to a permanent halt. The range of symptoms is a varied as women are in shape and size. Many symptoms, often. Some, rarely. Few. None. Hot flashes, sleep disruption, vaginal dryness — OH MY!

Then I looked up the average age for menopause. It was 50. And I thought, “Great. Just great. I have 12 years of this ahead of me.” I started joking with friends that it was a good thing I slept alone because I could at least move over to the dry side of the bed after a sweat-soaking hot flash.

If you don’t have a Menopause Mentor, as I didn’t, take comfort in the knowledge that this didn’t last very long for me, and might not for you, either. And I can’t find evidence that if perimenopause begins this early for you, then it means you won’t be “in” menopause until after the average age (50) as was the case for me. More on this later!

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