For me the worst part about peri-menopause is the menstrual cycle roller coaster. One month I think I should take out stock in tampons. Then three months later I'm throwing all my tampons away because I tell myself its over! Not sure what mother nature was thinking? To go 3-4 months without a period, which gets your hopes up... then BAM to bring it back, like the flood gates from hell have opened, is pure evil! I read in a More magazine once that peri-menopause is like puberty in reverse. So I guess Instead of gearing up and making you feel all weird inside as your body prepares to carry children. It is now sputtering like an old clunker on it's last leg as it tries to wind down. The thought of dealing with a sputtering menstrual cycle makes me cringe! Especially when the Today Show on NBC just announced that peri-menopause/menopause can last up to 14 years.
That report just brings out the Foghorn Leghorn in me... remember that big bird from Looney Tunes? "What's that! I say, what's that their talking about 14 YEARS?" "Hey BOY tell me... I say, I say, tell me they must be joking boy!" Oh but it gets better. The extra years in a recent study fell on women of color and hispanics. Caramba I'm Both! My head was spinning when I was listening to the report. I'm getting a bad feeling about this. You know I was one of the one in a million to get the chicken pox twice. I really don't want to be a one in a million to have a period until I'm 70. So lets break this down.
Premature menopause is anything before 40 years of age. Peri-menopause is between 40-55 on average. Menopause is when a woman is free of her menstrual period for one complete year the average age is about 51. Finally post-menopause, which is basically another name for almost HOME FREE. Is when you are done with the bloody nightmare of the sputtering period but could still have night sweats, vaginal dryness and other symptoms. Below is a graph so you can kind of figure out where you are when you look under Principal Criteria and Menstrual Cycle on the graph. Changes in your flow could mean the end of the reproductive stage, you may still not be in peri-menopause yet. Go ahead and scream sweetie... I'm with you the word variable in the diagram causes major frustration. Variable could mean y-e-a-r-s.
Let's get back to focusing on what we can't change, abnormal periods during midlife. This is something you need to stay on top of because there are Different Types of Irregular Periods and for the most part it's just part of the winding down process. If you ever are questioning vaginal bleeding between periods or heavy vaginal bleeding go get it checked out immediately. It can be something minor like stress but don't second guess it or self diagnose. Go get any type of questionable vaginal bleeding checked out immediately. I guess my final thoughts are to hold onto those tampons until you hit the 365 day mark. (My year will probably be a leap year 366 days) I know someone who went 7 months then restarted so relax and go with the flow... this journey may take awhile. "Bloody Hell! I say, I say, Bloody Hell!"
Keep looking forward so you don't miss what God puts in front of ya!
Matuschka's Midlife... Telling it like it is...
*Graph above from Stages of Reproductive Aging Workshop STRAW+10