Grief & Grieving

The Changing Season Called Perimenopause

by Magnolia on January 10, 2016

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Update:  This post was originally written in 2008, and migrated to The Perimenopause Blog in 2009.  It has been updated and edited.  

So, here we are into May and I don’t know about you, but I’m still waiting for spring.  In the Deep South where I originally hail from, I’m certain  they are enjoying very mild and spring like temperatures.  However, here in the North we’re still trying to figure out if it’s winter we want or spring.

Personally, I love winter and wouldn’t mind snow 9 months out of the year (must the symptoms of perimenopause speaking with those hot flashes and night sweats, huh?), but I also wouldn’t mind a few weeks of spring, early summer temperatures.

Yet, we are still not quite there yet.

So, as I look at the forecasts nearly daily to see if we will have warm temperatures or cool, I can’t help but think of the years that I first began my adventure into perimenopause, it was much like this time of the year – turbulent.

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There were ups and downs, and times when I blew through my life with the emotional force of a Cat-5 hurricane. It was not only unpleasant for me, but extremely difficult for my family as well. Though the physical changes were challenging and sent me running to the nearest doctor and herbalist for relief, I must say the bigger and more difficult changes were those that I went through psychologically.

Truth be told, no one prepares you for those types of changes.  It’s also not an exaggeration to say that it is very much like teenage years.  Very volatile and very much a time of trying to figure out who you are – again.  Except, this time you’re redefining what you have worked so hard to define those first 40-plus years of your life.

Yes, it’s that big.  And for many, that difficult. I’m embarrassed to say this, because now that I’m beyond it, it seems so silly.  But the truth is, as a young woman I defined myself by my sexuality and my ability to produce children.

I mean, let’s face it, when you are a young girl approaching adolescence, all you can think about is when you will get your period, and the first time you’re going to have sex.  Ok, maybe you didn’t, but I did. And I don’t think I’m too terribly alone in this.

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The onset of menses signals womanhood in the minds of young girls and every young girl wants to be a woman. She wants to be beautiful and desired. This doesn’t change as one gets older. We are still that little girl in heart who wants (and maybe even needs) to be beautiful and desired. So, perhaps this is why many of us struggle so when we begin perimenopause on our way to actual menopause. 

If we have spent a lifetime defining ourselves through our fertility and sexuality, then it only stands reason that when it changes, so does your self-image.  I’m not altogether sure this is a bad thing……you know, defining yourself through your fertility and sexuality.  Maybe it’s quite natural.  And so it’s also quite natural to begin a new definition when this part of you changes.

It doesn’t make it any less traumatic however, for many of us anyway.  And I grieved in the truest sense of the word. In fact, grief in perimenopause is a very common and surprising symptom for women.

It took many years and lots of herbal supplements to me to get through those times.  But, I can say now with a certainty, that I am feeling much better about life and who I am. Though I’m still not too fond of those darn hairs that keep cropping up above my lip!

I would say that the lessening of estrogen and the emergence of testosterone in my body is proving to be a good thing.  And oh yeah,  ladies, great news: loss of libido in perimenopause is not a permanent thing.

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Yeah, there’s some rocking and rolling there for awhile as those hormones are trying to find a new place to live, and the changing most definitely affects your libido.  But, it’s not permanent. In fact, the biggest secret out there is that women in their fifties and older are still highly sexual creatures.  But, if you are already menopausal, this is likely not news to you.

And to those of you behind me that have yet to enter this tumultuous time, or perhaps you already have…….take heart. There is something better on the other side.  The calmer, less turbulent waters of menopause.  And if you can be so lucky and blessed – grandchildren!

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