I'm 44 years old and, somehow, I've started peri-menopause already and y'all I hate it so much.
Me being me, though, I've amassed a pretty amazing team of tools to help mitigate the symptoms.
And none of them are pills! One is something worse, though.
The penis-owners reading this blog might be tempted to turn away, but let me remind you... if you deal with women in any context in your life, this is good information for you. It should be talked about just as much (IF NOT MORE) than we talk about men not being able to erections anymore.
The way menopause is depicted in the media feels very cliched. (to be fair, the same could be said for erectile dysfunction.)
The turning-grey lady comically has hot flashes and goes through great lengths to cool down. The "hubby" complains to his friend about how moody his wife's been lately and they have a good bitch session about their wives. But very little on how to deal with it as a woman... or a partner.
Granted, my memory is not the greatest and I don't, like, go out seeking menopause media, but I ain't afraid of it.
Now, the actual menopause?
If this ramp up is any indication of what's to come, I am very afraid of it.
Before I tell you about the changes thus far, I'll give you a baseline of why my period life has been like!
First off, I've been tracking my period in some form or another for over 20 years. Right now I use an app called Flo, but I don't love it. What I'm saying though, is that I've had my eyes on the stats of my period for a long time.
My period has always been very heavy. I get really puffy with water weight before it starts, which makes my boobs great for about a week... (but then they deflate afters and give me a sad). There's one day of terrible cramps and bout 5 days of heavy flow, that I've caught for the last (almost) 20 years with a menstrual cup. I rarely have breakthrough bleeding or spotting.
About 4 years ago I found out I have fibroids that aren't quite yet big enough to warrant being removed, but they also won't just take the works out in case "I want to have a baby in the future".
What it's like now:
I notice it in my brain first. I start being meaner to myself right about the time I'm done ovulating. The negative self-talk will start to creep in and after about a week it will spread out to include anyone around me.
Here's the thing though... with all my other brain things, I've figured out tools and tricks to dampen this meanness, if not eliminate it completely. The pre-menopause PMS bullshit is a different animal.
It's exactly like someone different has taken over my brain and I hate it. I feel myself thinking angry thoughts I don't even mean, imagining horrific terrible scenarios, and I know that bubbles over to the surface.
I'm trying really hard to be open and honest with my emotions lately, but these thoughts make it so hard, because I know they are not real. My brain doesn't mean them. It's just my hormones trying to trick me.
What is the evolutionary reason for this I wonder? To turn the penis off so that it goes off and finds another more nubile body to mate with? I am sure some science people can tell me.
Regardless, this is a pre-menopause/menopause symptom that should be talked about... and not as a joke. If you're partnered with a vulva-owner of my age and she says something out of turn or reacts bigger than you are used to, do me a favor.
Treat them with grace.
They are still trying to catch up to what their brain is doing. Don't respond to what appears to be anger or "crazy" (NEVER EVER CALL THEM THAT. EVER) with more anger. Be gentle with them. They might find themselves in a situation where they can't be gentle with themselves.
If they are anything like me, they are doing as much as they humanly can to keep this from affecting anyone other than themselves.
Okay, after my brain is no longer my own, the puffiness starts ramping up. And, y'all, I don't know if it's because I am smaller now so I notice it more, but I get puffier than ever. I can fluctuate up to 12 pounds during PMS nowadays.
Oh, but also at the same time, I get the night sweats.
Raise your hand if you know one of my all time least favorite human activities.
Sweating. I hate it. I avoid it at all costs, if possible.
So imagine my pure rage when it started happening when I was sleeping!??!?
There is not an anger face angry enough for my reaction the first few times it happened.
However, these night sweats did prompt me to do more research on cooling blankets. I ended up with this one (affiliate link) and it was a game-changer.
Of course, it didn't stop the night sweats, but now when I wake up in a sweat, I can appease the fire pretty significantly by moving my blanket around on my body to get to a cool spot. My favorite thing about this blanket is that it only warms up where it's touching a person. It's like flipping over to the cool side of the pillow, but with no flipping and it's a blanket.
The night sweats have started to bust up into my days now, I guess I'm in hot flash territory now. I have a strategically placed face fan that I can control with only my voice, as long as my Google home is participating. That helps a bit, but I still hate it.
The periods themselves are worse than ever. Some days I go through a cup in less than two hours, multiple times a day. Things are chunkier and, oh lord, are they crampier. I find myself needing a heating pad and using some THC and CDB pain relief cream and patches, which does help a bit. I don't like taking painkillers during my period, because I've noticed that tends to increase my flow and it already interrupts my day enough.
I have a pretty high pain tolerance, though, so needing anything at all has been a change.
A few months ago, a point was reached where I was willing to try anything.
I'd been pushed some ads on my social feeds that claimed to help with the menopause and peri-menopause symptoms for at least 6 months, so I ordered the sampler pack from Gem Nutrition.
When they arrived, I couldn't wait to try them. Whole food nutrition in a fluffy looking cube? Sounds great.
Then I tasted one and immediately cancelled my refill order.
They tasted terrible. There is no way I could eat one of these cubes every day.
Then the next day, I choked another one down, because there were there and I didn't want to waste them. And I did the same the next day and the next.
It took me, for real, about one hour to eat each one-by-one inch cube.
But at the end of a week of them, I noticed a difference in my brain. The racing thoughts had calmed, that mean voice was talking at normal, instead of full, volume.
I told myself, "next week is the PMS hell week, if these make a significant difference, we'll refill 'em"
Y'all. They made a MAJOR impact. MAJOR.
Night Sweats are DOWN by 90%.
I get about 50% LESS PUFFY!
My brain is being NICE TO ME. (It still tries to slip in a nega-thought, but I can karate chop it to the side mostly.)
It was the last item that pushed me over the finish line to order a refill. My peri-menopause brain was a rude bitch and I don't need that in my life.
I am about three months in on Cacao Daily Essential and I glady suffer through my "gross nutrition cubes" every morning. Each month gets better and now it only takes me about 15 minutes to eat one! (They might not even be gross for you... other people like them just fine.)
Here are some non-period benefits I've noticed:
My hair is getting thicker and grows so fast.
My nails are hard like diamonds.
My skin is cleaning up!
I sleep better!
They are $39 a month, but if you want to try them too, click this link to get $20 off. I'll get $20 off my next month, too, so I can keep this happy momentum going.
What's the ramp up to menopause been like for y'all?