Menopause is just one of those things you think will NOT really happen to you. Especially when you’re younger, it seems as elusive as illness or death. But if you live long enough, you will most certainly experience it sooner or later. And while women are eager to publicly discuss all the symptoms of say, pregnancy—no matter how private or unpleasant—few seem to be as ready to volunteer what they’re suffering as they go through menopause. As someone who is smack in the middle of menopause, I can tell you it’s quite the ride. And while every woman’s experience may be different, one thing is certain, and it´s that it brings changes, feelings and symptoms that you may not have expected.
For the benefit of all women who will follow or are already following in my footsteps, here are six things you probably didn’t know, or won’t know, about menopause until it hits you.
1. Menopause is not an “old lady thing”
Menopause can start as early as your 30s or as late as your 60s. The average age is in your 50s. Hereditary and health factors all influence the time in your life when you will experience menopause. But keep in mind that going through menopause, no matter what your age, is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s as natural an occurrence as puberty, pregnancy and labor.
2. Before menopause, there is perimenopause
So what is this, exactly? These are the years preceding actual menopause. Your body slowly produces less and less estrogen, your periods become irregular and some women start to experience hot flashes and mood swings. That sounds as vague and as familiar as PMS, right? Sure enough, the only person who can really tell you whether you are, in fact, perimenopausal is your OB-GYN.
3. You may miss your periods, but I mean really miss them
At 51, I haven’t had a period for almost 10 months. And I miss them. I miss having PMS, which brought with it increased libido and engorged breasts. I miss the relief I felt when I got my period, and even the excuse I had to lie in bed for half a day with a heating pad on my belly. I even miss buying tampons, although now I buy them for my teen. My menstrual cycles were something I could, well, count on.
Continue reading 6 Things you didn’t know about menopause.