Lesson #1: The change before the change is a thing
.Less discussed than the loss of periods is the sudden onset of insanely heavy periods Overlooked Lessons From Menopause Everyone Must To Know —the deluge before the drought. “I like to say my bathroom is the set of CSI: Perimenopause,” says Julie, from Chicago. “Sometimes I have to stay home and just sit on towels. If there were consistency, at least you could plan. There is no consistency. Superheavy flow, then nothing but spotting. Then, in lieu of PMS, 2½ weeks of breast soreness a month akin to pregnancy symptoms. Oh, joy.”
Lesson #2: Focus on the vestibule.
We whisper among ourselves about vaginal dryness, but not just for the obvious reason of, you know, ouch. We also feel guilty because our partners see it as a sign that we’re not interested. Which makes sense, because throughout our younger lives, dryness meant just that. But then things change, and you may want to make love just as much, or more. But your cooch is sending the wrong signals.
Lesson #3: You will gain weight in very unexpected places.Weight gain, of course, is the almost-universal fallout of menopause, mostly because your body is using fewer calories than it used to, and most of us aren’t cutting back and/or stepping up the exercise. “My new book is going to be titled Eat Less, Weigh More,” says Nancy Levine, a management consultant in San Francisco. Less predictable is where you gain weight. “One day I was shopping and found a dress I loved, and the salesgirl whispered to me that she would hold it for 2 days because it was going on sale,” says the writer Lisa DePaulo. “I came back in 2 days, tried it back on just to accessorize, and it wouldn’t zip up. She looked at me and said, ‘You’re in perimenopause.’ I thought that was ridiculous—I was only in my mid-40s—but I went and took the blood test at my doctor’s and she was right. That’s the thing no one tells you: that your BACK will expand.” (Balance your hormones and lose up to 15 pounds in just 3 weeks with The Hormone Reset Diet!)
Lesson #4: You’ll feel like a cliché, but that’s the least of it.
Hot flashes are the most common symptom of menopause. About 75% of women experience sudden, brief increases in their body temperature—which, in one of many cruel twists, are both worsened by lack of sleep and can cause problems sleeping. “I didn’t have night sweats,” says Lisa Leonard Adler, an art gallery owner in San Diego. “I had every-20-minutes, looked-like-I-took-a-shower sweats.” If we were all just minding our own business,
can almost instantly end the flashes and improve mood swings, as I gratefully discovered. But unfortunately for the not-insignificant population of women who have been treated for breast cancer, HT is usually off limits. “I went through chemical, then surgical menopause—Lupron, then a complete hysterectomy—after breast cancer treatment,” notes Lisa Greim, an online content strategist in Arvada, CO. “Even plant-based remedies like black cohosh were off limits.
Lesson #5: Can’t…stop…scratching.But maybe the change that bothers us most—if not physically, then mentally—is the change in our skin. As estrogen levels wane with age, you get skin that’s thinner, more wrinkled, and saggier. It’s normal, but it sucks. Moreover, the hormonal roller coaster of perimenopause means that one symptom impinges on another, so women find themselves playing dermal Whack-A-Mole.