Did that title just make you wither a little bit? Me, too. But, in all seriousness, as long as we’re alive and aging, menopause is going to happen. Even now, at 43, I’ve had some peri, peri, peri-menopause symptoms for a couple of years. These are the changes so small you might not even notice them, but they are the first tiny steps my body (and yours) are making towards the final re-homing of your reproductive energies.
“Re-homing of your reproductive energies??? WTF does that even mean, Joanna???” It means that, yes, your ability to conceive and birth children is on its way to shutting down, but your ability to create – which is the higher level function of the menstrual cycle anyway – is just going to live somewhere else. But we’ll talk about that in a sec. First! The signs of peri-menopause sneaking her way into your body…
1. Your PMS Symptoms are Changing
Most women, but not all (I get that), have somewhat predictable symptoms of PMS. They may be excruciating (as with endometriosis) or they may be your regular, old, run-of-the-mill symptoms, but when peri-menopause starts happening, you may see these symptoms change. Sometimes the symptoms themselves change- perhaps you never used to get headaches during PMS, but now you do. And sometimes when the symptoms occur changes- perhaps you used to get headaches at the start of your period, but now they come at the end. These are some of the tiny little changes that could mean you’re heading into peri-menopause.
2. Libido Changes
For some women, the onset of the Sex Surge is an indicator that peri-menopause may be coming along in a few years (my Sex Surge clients range from early 30s to mid 60s, though). For many other women the timing of their libido changes as they approach peri-menopause. For instance, many women find their libido may still go up close to ovulation, but now it also goes up closer to when her period should arrive. Some women skip the ovulation-induced libido bump all together and get a smaller libido nudge towards their period. However, it’s pretty likely that you will notice some changes in libido as peri-menopause works her way through your body.
3. Increased Sensitivity of Your Bullshit Detector
One of the ‘gifts’ that estrogen gives women is the ability to handle multiple lines of thinking and perspectives at once. As the estrogen leaves our brain chemistry, we get a bit more focused, clear, and tired of the bullshit we see around us. We may also feel angry as a part of this shift. If you notice that you’re feeling this way, you may be seeing the tiny shifts towards peri-menopause.
4. Weight Issues
As estrogen leaves our body, our body may change shape to something more ‘androgynous’- something mixed between a feminine looking body and a masculine looking body. We may also have a bit more difficulty losing weight than we used to, or we may more easily gain weight. (Now, I’m not here to be the body police- I don’t mind whatever shape you are in as long as your heart is healthy. But some of us are going to be very surprised at how our body changes due to being in peri-menopause, so I’m just sharing that here. The likelihood is that your body will change, so be aware.)
5. Shifting Cycle Length
If you have a fairly predictable menstrual cycle, you may start noticing that it shifts- just by a day or two- every once and again. This is peri-menopause starting to mess with your cycle; it may be slightly longer, it may be slightly shorter, it may have weird changes in blood intensity or pauses in places it didn’t before. Let me reassure you that this is natural and normal and not much to worry about, but just know it’s a sign of things to come.
As noted above, peri-menopause is the shutting down of your menstrual cycle, but it’s also the beginning of a life free of monthly bleeding. (Can I get a ‘hell, yes!’?) One of the things I really want you to know, though, is that while this change is a big one physically, it is also a big change psychologically. And I believe women have a choice to shut down with this change or to become something new, some new kind of creative and alive that pulls all her wisdom, experience, love, and clarity and makes the world, her world, a better place. We might lose our menstrual cycle during peri-menopause, but we have the choice to gain a lot of power, too. Peri-menopause is a doorway, and you get to pick where it takes you.