According to WebMD, perimenopause is “the stage of a woman's reproductive life that begins several years before menopause, when the ovaries gradually begin to produce less estrogen. It usually starts in a woman's 40s, but can start in a woman's 30s or even earlier.”
I’m 45 and, according to my doctor, I’m there. He recently ran some blood tests to check my estrogen levels, but that exercise was totally unnecessary; I’d already self-diagnosed my new "condition" thanks to the Internet. WebMD says perimenopause may include some or all of the following symptoms:
- 1. Hot flashes
- 2. Breast tenderness
- 3. Worsening of premenstrual syndrome
- 4. Decreased libido (sex drive)
- 5. Fatigue
- 6. Irregular periods
- 7. Vaginal dryness; discomfort during sex
- 8. Urine leakage when coughing or sneezing
- 9. Urinary urgency (a pressing need to urinate more frequently)
- 10. Mood swings
- 11. Difficulty sleeping
Following my self-diagnosis, I also did a little self-analysis just to confirm my findings:
1. Hot Flashes
I can’t say I’ve officially had one yet, unless you count the time I was on a flight to New York and either a) we hit a flock of geese, b) something exploded in the luggage compartment under my seat or c) we lost an engine while the pilots checked their Facebook pages. In one single, terrifying minute, I felt a boom, the plane lurched, the engines and passengers screamed, and the young man next to me began to pray. My body felt like it was on fire. Looking back, it wasn’t as bad as a hot flash: it was only a near death experience.
2. Breast Tenderness
Guess I’ve been in perimenopause since I first got my period.
3. Worsening of Premenstrual Syndrome
Isn’t that like saying, “She’s getting extremely pregnant?” Seriously, PMS is what it is, so how can it worsen? Like, instead of jumping out of a moving car during a fight with my husband, is my PMS "worse" if I jump while I’m the one driving? Come on. This is serious medical business.
4. Decreased Libido (sex drive)
Insert joke about feeling this way since my first baby arrived, then mock the irony of my use of the word “insert”.
I’m too tired to even comment on that.
6. Irregular Periods
Ding ding ding ding ding! I’ve got this one for sure! However, shouldn’t it be cause for celebration rather than a signal of bad things to come????
7. Vaginal Dryness; Discomfort During Sex
Sorry, I can’t stop giggling about the V word. Does this childlike behavior go away (or at least become irregular) once I officially enter menopause?
8. Urine Leakage When Coughing or Sneezing
I’m confused. Only when coughing or sneezing???? What about a) sitting, b) preparing dinner, c) reading a text message in the carpool line or d) standing on a slatted, wooden deck on the 2nd floor of a summer rental in Michigan, laughing at a stupid joke with your in-laws while strangers sit below wondering why the hell it’s sprinkling on a perfectly sunny evening?
9. Urinary Urgency (a pressing need to urinate more frequently)
Yeah, this one's not a problem for me (yet). I’ve always been able to sleep through the night no matter what, so when this symptom hits, I think #5 ramps into overdrive and #10 turns into a cause for police intervention.
10. Mood Swings
I think I'm okay on this one. Do you ever stop to think about the word “swing”? It conjures a smooth, fluid transition from one place to another. However, if they'd listed Mood Quakes, Mood Stabs, Mood Slams or Mood Spasms, I’d be a big fat yes on #10.
11. Difficulty Sleeping
Are you kidding me? Sleep’s my only chance to stop thinking about riding this doom train toward menopause...
Thanks for reading. Have you experienced perimenopause? Are you already in menopause? Give it to me straight. How do I get through this without losing my mind? Most importantly, what does my husband need to know?
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