Let’s talk about the period

We spend most of our lives wondering where the period is…..when it’s going to come………………….and when it will go away. It’s less like a period and more like a question mark.

I never gave menopause much thought.  As for the period, I figured sometime in my 60s, it would simply disappear for good.  Presto Change-o! No big deal. The truth is, the thought of disposing of all my period paraphernalia sounded fantastic. I was undoubtedly going to be thrilled to get rid of those tampons.  I envisioned that the pads with wings – would fly right out of my bathroom window.

No one ever prepared me for perimenopause.  I was utterly shocked to discover that you can start experiencing perimenopause symptoms in your 40s. Perimenopause is the 8-10 years before you reach menopause. The average age of entering menopause is 51– not 60 something!

My mother was masterful at hiding her menopause journey from us.  Once, I saw her sweating profusely at a holiday dinner table. She blamed this on a hot oven and being in the kitchen all day. We all knew never to mention these sweat sessions ever again. She was a part of the “I am fine” conspiracy!  Yes, women are taught to always be “fine!

Once in passing, my mother mentioned that she had to leave her teaching job to care for her mother. She explained that my grandmother needed to have shock therapy for depression. I put the pieces of the puzzle together when I began my perimenopausal journey and experienced many emotional and physical symptoms that left me feeling like an alien had taken over my body. My grandmother was most likely experiencing depression from hormonal changes.

In those days, I learned that women were often treated with shock therapy for menopausal depression. Back then, there was a stigma associated with depression. It suddenly became crystal clear why my mom always pretended to be “fine” and never spoke about perimenopause, menopause, or post-menopause.

My heart breaks for my mother and grandmother as they did not receive the love and support they deserved as they progressed through their menopausal journies.

We must continue to break the taboo associated with perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause.

I envision myself flying around in a red cape, trying to save all the vaginas; educating women and those who love them on this subject has become my encore career and life’s mission.

I find myself helping hot-flashing women in line at the grocery store, car wash, airports, and airplanes. On one flight heading to the east coast, I was excited to be away from my desk and phone so I could spend five uninterrupted hours writing chapters for my free e-Book. The woman beside me was annoyed with the sound of my fingers hitting the keys on my laptop. As she fanned herself, she leaned over and asked if I would be typing the entire flight, as it was disturbing her.   I looked at her and thought she might be at the beginning (perimenopausal) or in the middle of her menopausal journey. During these transitions, you may find random things that had previously never bothered you now bug you.   I explained that I was trying to finish my book on menopause.  She was beyond excited to hear this. Instead of working on my book, I listened to her pour her perimenopausal heart and soul out to me.  She was experiencing many challenging new physical and emotional issues and had no idea what to do. I was happy we were seated next to each other.

On another trip, I was on my way to New York to do a series of menopause videos with the beautiful, award-winning Kim Cattrall from Sex in the City. I was rehearsing my script under my breath…. when I realized the man next to me was listening to every word I was trying to memorize.  I apologized and explained that I was heading to NYC to do a series of educational videos and needed to practice my lines,  He said, “No, please speak louder as I want to learn more about this.  My wife is not sleeping and has horrible night sweats and emotional ups and downs.  I want to learn how to help her.”

No matter where I am, I learn about women experiencing menopause issues…even while driving!  One day, I was heading to LA and accidentally came upon Playboy Radio. I was intrigued and found myself listening to the Tiffany Granite show.  While I was listening to her show, a man called in to find out how to help his marriage. He described his wife as the love of his life. However, he explained that their relationship had deteriorated to two people living together like roommates, not lovers.  He asked Tiffany if she knew about menopause as he wondered if this was the cause of his wife’s drastic physical and emotional changes.  That’s when I realized I should try to be a guest on Playboy Radio.

Of course, when I contacted Playboy Radio, they were appalled that I wanted to come on their radio channel and talk about menopause! They were adamant that their channel is devoted to sex – only. I educated the producer that some of their callers are trying to have a loving, healthy sex life with midlife women.  I further explained that when women are in perimenopause, menopause, or post-menopause, they can experience symptoms that can profoundly affect their sex lives.

I told him that Tiffany had advised the men calling to be patient and bring home flowers and candy. Being patient and loving is excellent advice.  However, I bluntly told the producer that even if a woman took the flowers out of the vase and poured the water into her vagina, it would not help her if she is experiencing a dry vagina.  He had never heard of this, nor did he understand that a dry vagina can cause sex to hurt. I told him there is help for this.  That is when he agreed to let me be on the show!  The producer was very clear that he only wanted me on the show for five minutes.

Tiffany asked me for help with her perimenopause symptoms as soon as the show started. I thought it was very brave of this playmate to admit she was experiencing perimenopause. We then went to break while they opened the phone lines to allow for questions.  During the break, the producer came on the phone and asked me if I could stay on the call for the rest of the one-hour show, as the phone lines were lit up like crazy.  Men were pulling off the side of the road with pen and paper, ready to take notes! For one hour,  I was a Playboy Phone Mate! I never shared that with my mom.  Some things are best unsaid.

Now, you can understand why I want to empower women to be prepared, to deal intelligently and in an informed manner with the issues that perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause present.

What are some symptoms of perimenopause?

You might begin experiencing irregular periods, brain fog, insomnia, hot flashes, or one day you wake up and find you are a member of the sisterhood of the shrinking pants, and/or you think your vagina has taken a trip to the Sahara Desert. (I am not talking about Las Vegas!) Your vagina is parched.

Perimenopause is often the most symptom-laden time. I created a Menopause Mondays® Symptom Chart with the most common symptoms. Download this free chart and start charting your symptoms. If you have marks on this chart, you should get thee to a Menopause Specialist. If you don’t have a specialist, read Menopause Mondays®: Tips on How to Find a Menopause Specialist.

How do you know if you are in menopause?

You are in menopause when you have not menstruated for 12 consecutive months.  You must start the clock over if you have intermittent bleeding or spotting along the way. It is always prudent to speak to your doctor about any irregular bleeding.   The average age of menopause is 51.

Some women enter menopause before the age of 40. This is called premature menopause. Menopause that occurs between the ages of 40-45 is called early menopause.  You might hear the words primary ovarian insufficiency (POI). POI is often confused with premature menopause.  But it is different. Women with POI may have irregular periods for years and even get pregnant.  Women with premature menopause stop having periods and can’t become pregnant.

There is no need to pretend you are “fine!”

You can educate yourself and become your own best health advocate! Sign up for my free trademarked Menopause Mondays® Hot News Flashes to stay updated on the latest menopause news.

To help prepare you, I commissioned Emmy award-winning songwriters Jack Dolgen & Rachel Bloom to create a music video that would help educate the sisterhood on perimenopause and the effects of perimenopause on your fertility/biological clock and prepare you for menopausal bliss. A singing uterus…what’s not to love? Laugh, learn, sing & dance!

My Motto:  Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN! 

Sign up for Menopause Mondays® HOT News Flashes 

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Download my free eBook: MENOPAUSE MONDAYS the Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause.

*EllenDolgen.com does not recommend, endorse, or make any representation about any tests, studies, practices, procedures, treatments, services, opinions, healthcare providers, physicians, or medical institutions that may be mentioned or referenced.

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