What in the Peri-Menopause is This?
By: Meaghan Lefkowitz
Ah, my new favorite subject. Not that it’s new to me. Actually, when it was new to me, it was definitely NOT my favorite.
Let’s look back to 2019: just moved out to the burbs with my family, just getting into the groove, meeting new people, starting a new job and BAM! Cystic acne, where’d you come from? WHAMMO! Let’s start fights with everyone in my family for no reason! SPLAT! Wanna cry in the closet all day? Here ya go!
My therapist wasn’t trained in this. None of my friends were experiencing this. My OBGYN said I was too young for anything hormonal to be happening (I was 42) and shushed me out the door, faster than she could put her speculum away. I spent almost a full year in agony, trying to figure this all out (yeah, that’s right. We went into 2020 with this nonsense). I researched and researched and then finally reached out to a psychiatric nurse practitioner friend in Austin. She confirmed my suspicions: it was perimenopause.
She suggested I find a new OBGYN and demand help. With her advice, a dermatologist, and finally finding an OBGYN that would listen to me, I got what I needed.
My set of ailments is a tiny sample of what’s available too. There are so many different conflicting and confusing symptoms related to hormonal imbalances and perimenopause that it may make you bonkers! Hot flashes, cold, spells, headaches, loss of focus, clumsiness, ringing in your ears, hair growth, body odor, states of mania, states of depression, states of anxiety, states of meh, paranoia, tactile hallucinations, increased libido, decreased libido, complete and total exhaustion, elevated energy levels, acne weight gain, weight loss, spotting, missing periods, weeks-long periods. Not here to instill fear or anything but if you’re just not feeling “right” and it’s causing distress in your daily life, chances are you need to talk to someone.
Why did it take so long for me to get relief? Why did I have to make so much effort on something that half the population will more than likely go through in their lifetime? It is mind-boggling that after all that society has progressed, why is it still taboo to talk about tampons, PMS, breastfeeding, birth, miscarriage, and the so-called dreaded end of a woman’s entire existence: MENOPAUSE?
I have two teen daughters and yeah, it’s exactly how you’d expect it to be. Luckily, we’ve moved through it pretty well (ha!) and it’s starting to even out for them, which is really good for them and the rest of the house. I hated seeing them struggle and not truly understand what was going on. I’d try to tell them, but of course they wouldn’t listen because ration does not go well with PMS. And dads are no help in these situations because society has told them it’s a “woman thing”, just ignore it, buy them ice cream, but please God DO NOT TALK ABOUT IT!!!! Why not? I mean, I’m not suggesting David run up to Zoe and say “hey! You feeling hormonal? Let’s talk about your feelings”. What I’m saying is: let’s have the conversations.
Humans are born with hormones, and we die with them. For women, our hormones begin to change and affect our physical, mental, and emotional states pretty early on (we’re talking 2nd grade sometimes!). They get all screwy every month so we can have our periods (unless we have unbalanced hormones which affect over 20% of teen girls and they have to get on birth control to even it out). And then they don’t level out until we’re in our 20s. Wanna have a baby? Hormones are here! Then we have postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) options, if you dare! It’s up and down until peri menopause (which can start as early as your mid 30s), and then good ol menopause. Where society has deemed you no longer a woman. Thanks for the run around, nature!
This all sounds absolutely terrifying but it doesn’t have to be. Easy access to education and healthcare, having the conversations with each other, our husbands, and even our sons, can take us out of the dark ages on this subject. The transitions we encounter are natural and beautiful and make us who we are! And the coolest thing of all, is there are so many different kinds of relief. It doesn’t have to be pharmacological or hormone replacement. Supplements, lifestyle change, holistic mental health therapy, diet, YOGA, can all ease the yoyo of hormones we’ve been gifted to be these badass creatures. Experience, embrace, and embody this existence. And give yourself empathy because this is bananas.