When first faced with the inevitable experience of perimenopause, I did what I always do in the face of new experiences that may be trying – I read everything I could about it. In reading about it I learned that it was often a frustrating, confusing, and challenging time in a woman’s life; but, I also learned that there were some things that one can do to help make it more bearable. One of those things was eating soy which is said to reduce the frequency and magnitude of hot flashes – one of the most often referenced and unpredictable symptoms of perimenopause.
Luckily, I have long been a fan of Boca Burgers and eat them quite regularly. I was actually feeling pretty smug until recently about how clever I was eating soy and avoiding (for the most part) hot flashes. I have been in the throes of other perimenopausal symptoms for the past few years – with this past year being the most challenging. My friends at WebMD say that the average length of perimenopause is four years, but it can range for a few months to ten years. I was actually hoping that in regard to perimenopause I could be blissfully average. I thought that my established soy habits coupled with an appreciation of how to address all the lovely symptoms of perimenopause would be my ticket to a short perimenopause adventure. Au contraire…apparently my efforts are not having as dramatic an effect as I had hoped.
Lately, I have been experiencing the nightime version of hot flashes – sometimes referred to as night sweats. These things wake me up in the night and feel like my internal heat dial has been turned to high. While the experience is relatively short in duration, the immediate intensity is annoying to say the least. The frequency of these nightime charrings has increased over the past few weeks. No doubt the heat we have had recently has not helped, but I suffer no illusions that the root of the problem lies there. The thermostat is definitely internal and dialed-up to its maximum.
The other night as I was roused from a particularly pleasant dream featuring Matthew McConaughey by yet another unfortunately timed hot flash – I had a moment. In my moment it occured to me that women who are going through perimenopause really need to get a bigger pass from society in regard to the symptoms they suffer. They can’t sleep, they can’t think, their emotions run amok, they start forgetting things, they have aches and pains, they bloat, and they internally combust without notice. Someone should sound the alarm – HOLY HOT FLASH BATMAN! THAT WOMAN IS PERIMENOPAUSAL! It should cause folks to be afraid for the woman’s well-being and in some circumstances their own.
This is serious stuff and society as a whole should recognize that perimenopausal women are in serious distress. All this “change of life” baloney needs to go. A change of life is moving to a new city, eating differently, exercising more, etc. Perimenopause is not a change of life…it is an all-out assault on a woman’s mental and physical well-being! This calls for some serious assistance, not just a pat on the head and an assurance that it is a natural part of life.
If men went through perimenopause (as opposed to only experiencing it secondhand – which is nothing comparatively), it would be a completely different situation. It would be at the forefront of medical research and there would be some little pill (other than the blue ones) to help address the symptoms and make the whole perimenopause experience more bearable.
Not that I am bitter or anything, but I am feeling a tad hot at the moment. I think most women try and play down the whole perimenopause thing because it has to do with aging and affects the way they view themselves as women. I say – hell no! I am not climbing under a rock or hiding in a corner…I am not going to just suffer quietly waiting for it to pass. I am going to stand up and share my personal heat and encourage other women to do the same. If you think this planet has global warming now, wait until women everywhere refuse to suffer their hot flashes in quiet, sweaty isolation.
Perimenopause may be an inevitable part of aging for women, but it is not one that needs to be suffered with a misguided sense of shame. The collective symptoms of perimenopause are life-altering (see them here) and women should be given latitude, understanding, and access to as many remedies as possible. We should have a national spokesperson who stands in support of women going through perimenopause…someone like Matthew McConaughey. After all, he has heated up women for years – long before they arrived at hot flashes – it just seems right.
If only I was the boss of the world…what a magical, wacky place it would be – before, during, and after hot flashes.
Day one thousand and ninety-six of the new forty – obla di obla da