by Elder Shoutys
Welcome to perimenopause!
Remember the I-know-I'm-dying panic of your first period? The end of your periods can induce the same kind of terror. Despite cursing your uterus every month since you started menstruating, when your periods go MIA, you'll suddenly want to buddy up with your womb, wrap a sisterly arm around it, watch Bridget Jones on repeat, eat chocolate, and cry for the loss of such a defining feature of womanhood. So how will you know you're on the rocky road of perimenopause?
1. There is random, unpredictable bleeding happening from a previously well-behaved vagina.
Your periods will play years of hide-and-seek with you. Had an eight-day period last week? Surprise! You're having another one next week. That lasts for two days. Or maybe five days. Who knows? It's uterus shedding roulette!
2. Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold.
Did someone turn the heat up in here? Why do you feel like you're trekking the Sahara? Wait, now you're in the wilds of Antarctica? What is wrong with all the people you live with? Were they born with ice in their veins?
You're bone tired all the time. You've catnapped eight times today, but it's 3 p.m. and you can't stop yawning. Who wants to go out after 9 p.m.? Not you!
4. Why is my hair coming out?
You brush your hair as always, but now great clumps of it come off on your brush like some horror movie outtake.
5. Why is my chin/eyebrow sprouting long wiry locks?
All the hair that's coming out from on top of your head has taken up residence in your eyebrows or on your chin. And it's not thin, light, or subtle. Is it waving at passersby? Is that a lit, neon sign pointing straight at it?
6. Gain 10 pounds while trying to lose weight.
You can go on the Paleo diet, Whole30, or the South Beach diet, but no matter how carefully you watch those calories, at least 10 pounds manage to creep onto the scale with you.
7. Why do my nipples hurt like I'm pregnant?
WTF is this? Why are your boobs so tender that you can barely put on a bra? Is this pregnancy or menopause? The signs can be deceptively similar.
8. Where did I put my car keys… glasses… wallet?
You could swear you left your keys on the kitchen counter, your glasses on your dresser, your wallet on the dining table. Somebody has clearly moved them. Wait... what are they doing in the freezer?
9. Sex: Yes! No! Yes? No?
One minute your fluctuating libido can't get enough and you're sexting with that special somebody in your life. The next minute you're in your flannel pajamas and socks, eating ice cream, and sexytimes are the furthest thing from your mind.
10. My ledger of fucks given has moved into the negative.
Remember when you used to care what other people thought about you, you used to smile when random people told you it looked prettier, you used to listen to strangers tell you irrelevant and uninteresting things about their day? Yeah, that doesn't happen so much anymore. And it's gloriously freeing.
11. Why have I woken up in a swimming pool built into my bed?
You may have gone to bed completely naked, thrown all the covers off the bed, and had the air conditioner cranked to Arctic winter lows, but you'll still wake up in a pool of your own sweat. Welcome to night sweats. They're not nearly as much fun as night moves.
12. I love you so much! I'll cut you, man!
One minute you're crying over a story in the newspaper, the next minute you're ready to commit bloody murder over a comment thread on social media. Mood swings: not just playground equipment or the domain of teenagers.
13. Being over 40 does not confer immunity to sperm. Whoops, I'm pregnant!
The signs and symptoms of perimenopause are uncannily similar to pregnancy. Remember point seven, above? It's easy to assume sore breasts, missed periods, and fatigue are the early stages of perimenopause. Late accidental pregnancies are more common than you imagine and there's really only one way to tell for sure. Suck up your courage and just pee on the stick.
14. "Trying to look up a friend… Felix… Felippe… Umm… It was Leif."
You forget your children's names, your friend's names, the name of the plumber you've called every single time the toilets got backed up in the last five years. You might even forget your own significant other's name when you're talking about them (NO I HAVE NOT DONE THAT. Yes I have).
15. What do these things all have in common: baking bread, brewing beer, and my vagina?
Yeast! You can expect periodic, repeated urinary tract infections for apparently no reason. It's not just your uterus that's trying to kill you. Your vagina isn't entirely sympathetic to your ageing either.
16. Argh! I want to poke my own eye out with a fork! Migraines, migraines, everywhere.
You may never have had a migraine in your life, or they may be your old familiar nemesis, but now you'll have them more often and more intensely.
17. When did I become Eeyore?
It feels like you're wading through treacle just to get through the day. Depression associated with menopause can be overwhelming for most people, but it can be crippling if you're already depressed.
18. Could you all just stay in the context I know you in, please?
Who's that woman waving at you at the gym? She's so familiar. She seems to know you. You've worked with Janis from Accounting for five years. You know exactly what she looks like, what color her favorite cardigan is, how she takes her coffee. But the second she leaves the context of the office, you cannot tell who she is.
19. Sleep? What's that?
Eight hours? Uninterrupted? Ha! You remember those days with fondness. Now you're either lying there staring at the ceiling until the wee hours, or waking four times in the night.
20. Dryness. Dryness everywhere.
No matter how much you moisturize, or how much water you drink, your skin, mouth, and vagina all still feel desiccated. Everything's Sahara-level dry now. Except when you jump/sneeze/cough. Or in the rainforest habitats under your boobs and in your bum crack.
21. BONUS: Acne.
Yeah, you read that right. Zits. On your nose, your chin, your forehead, your nipples. It's almost as bad as when you were a teen, with the added bonus of being so over it.
Elder Shoutys are the vociferous reprobates your mama warned you about in hushed tones. Aged like fine stilton, our blue-veined legs sprout hair like we just don’t care, but we can drop a beat and kick it with the best. We embrace our old like a comforting blanket on a cold winter’s day, or an icepack during a perimenopausal hot flash.