The New Tent

 

In April 2019 I sent out a Love Letter describing my experience of the early days of perimenopause. I received so many replies to that letter I wanted to gather them together so we can all benefit from the stories that were shared. We’re not alone! I will add to this page as more stories come in and more resources are found.

Susannah xo

BOOKS

Menopause: The Answers by Dr Rosemary Leonard
Natural Solutions to Menopause by Dr Marilyn Glenville
New Menopausal Years: The Wise Woman Way by Susun Weed
Passage to Power by Leslie Kenton
The Hormone Cure by Dr Sara Gottfried
The Seven Sacred Rites of Menopause by Kristi Meisenbach Boylan
The Wisdom of Menopause by Dr Christianne Northrup
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You by Dr John Lee

Flash Count Diary: A New Story About Menopause by Darcey Steinke
No Stopping Us Now: The Adventures of Older Women in American History by Gail Collins
Tantric Sex and Menopause by Diana Richardson and Janet McGeever
The Slow Moon Climbs: The Science, History and Meaning of Menopause by Susan Mattern
Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing As We Age by Mary Pipher
Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Yoni Shakti by Uma Dinsmore-Tuli

WEB

The Secret Power of Menopause
Where are all the books about menopause?
Move into the heart: What I know about perimenopause by Carrie-Anne Moss
Jane Hardwicke Collings
Red School

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Thank you, Susannah. Thank you for starting the conversation as I also wonder why more women don’t talk about the middle space. I’m 48 and, if anything, my period is now consistently inconsistent!

Somedays this stage feels like I’m perpetually holding my breath and waiting for the journey to be over. To arrive in menopause, step through the veil into the club of no periods, to get through it. I mean, really, I’ve been having my period of 38 years… how is it possible I can continue? But I know there will be an empty space, empty feeling when I don’t have a period anymore. I will have, under no volition of my own, changed and will never be able to go back.

I’m simultaneously telling myself to enjoy the journey, love my body in the here and now, take a breath and let. it. go. Let go of the stranglehold I have on trying to control my body. Find the humor in adult acne and boobs that hurt for weeks #iwanttosleepinmybra

In my house we refer to “being in the tent,” a nod to The Red Tent book and oh, how I’ve longed for a real tent some periods. But I feel like I need a new tent, one were we can sit when our periods are 3 weeks late or don’t come at all. I’m on the same (what feels like an invisible) journey with you, Susannah, with love, heart, and a seat in the new tent.

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I am fortunate to be among those who went through menopause with no adverse effects, much like my menstrual cycle was never complicated by cramps or, to my knowledge, mood swings. I was regular as clockwork as well and that’s how I knew the three times I was pregnant, immediately. That being said, I would NEVER downplay anyone else’s symptoms or feelings. Everyone is different and for you to be so open is refreshing and wonderful for those who are going through similar things. Thank you!

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I just wanted to reply and say WELL BLOODY DONE for your email. I’m 44 and starting experiencing some symptoms of the perimenopause a couple of years ago and it scared and terrified me. Just like you, the thought of becoming that dried up old woman I had in my head was unbearable. Since then I’ve had what I think are hot flushes (because who knows until you have something to compare too!) woefully hit & miss periods and a LOT of pain in my joints, all of which I believe can be put down to ’the change!’ I”m 44 and not ready to consider myself old, indeed I never considered myself old until theses symptoms and I’m not going down that easy so to read your email MADE MY DAY! It does need talking about, sharing, crying on shoulders and whooping it up over a Prosecco or fruit juice so bravo!!! I will be trying to follow in your footsteps too and do my little bit to share my experiences on social.

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I’m two years younger than you, and I’ve experienced the same things over the last year. I turned 44 last weekend, and I miss looking forward to my birthdays. I dread them now. I think I’ve had a few hot flashes last year and the year before – one hit me the day after my birthday, when I was sleeping, then last May, my period was two weeks late. Then I got sick (a parasite that was in the news, most likely), and my period hit again during that second week, but I was okay with it, because that one was on time, essentially, and I thought my body had sorted itself out. Then I had a few days tacked onto later ones, and an extra period at the beginning of December, before it went missing for a couple of months. :( I hate this, and am relieved by others also not wanting to experience this – I’ve felt like a poor example of a woman, for not being ready, and not dealing with it in what’s considered to be an appropriate manner (just accepting it, I guess – it’s too soon!). It’s come back a little bit, over the last two months, and I almost had a normal period a couple of weeks ago. No hot flashes (touch wood – those I think I experienced, were white hot and went right up my back).

I wonder why the actresses don’t talk about it, too. I guess because it would remind the higher ups of how old they are, when they do their best to look young. Halle Berry still talks about cramps, and she’s nine years older than me. I don’t know how it’s possible, unless she’s using something like progesterone, which I’ve recently been tempted to try, because I’ve lost so much hair due to stress, illness, and most likely this, too. But I’m not experiencing certain things right now, so I don’t know if I should try it yet. Nobody told me that it would start when we were this young. I expected things in my fifties and sixties – but I’ve also been dreading this for the past decade – since I was 34. Because of certain things in my life, but also because of how women are treated as we age. :( And the fact that I was single – perpetually single. It seems like those who accepted it, welcomed it, were happily married, had children, and were tired and ready to be relieved of their periods. I’m not.

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I’m 47 and am recovering from a hysterectomy as my womb was falling out. Pelvic organ prolapse is another women’s health subject that nobody talks about and I feel that if I’d known more after the birth of my first child I could have helped myself more. Us women need to share more and support each other more. Apparently I’ll still have pms as I still have my ovaries  but it will be harder to tell if it’s pms or general grumpiness without bleeding to track my cycle!

I hope your transition goes reasonably smoothly.

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I’ve already gone through the change – and while mine was “easy” in some regards (no hot flashes, night sweats, or crankiness), I remember buying pregnancy tests for late periods (and freaking out about the thought of being a mom again at almost 50 – and yes, I researched if it was even possible – it is). When I would get my period, I was so relieved.

But then it all stopped. No more. While I’m thrilled to not have to deal with that any longer, I’ve been left with two things I never had to struggle with before: an extra layer of fat around my belly and debilitating insomnia.

I’ve always been slim and a great sleeper – but now? It’s a different world. And god forbid if we talk about it! But we must. Because there are others out there that NEED to know that they are not alone. That it’s all natural and part of the change. I like to think of menopause as puberty gone backwards. Same hormonal stuff, different symptoms – but new levels of wisdom and intuition to access.

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Thank you for a heartfelt letter about periods. At 56 I still find it difficult to say that word out loud. How very sad. Now I don’t have them and I am going through menopause and still can’t even talk to my Husband about it and can not say the word to him even. I’ve been poorly of late with a recurring UTI and it now appears it may be lack of oestrogen due to menopause so I’m being treated for that now. I can’t tell my Husband of 30 plus years!

So yes thank you and for the invite for us to use your letter to open up about something private. I’ve began writing to my Mother I’ve never known as an adult as she walked out when I was a child. I instigated this and it is a journey I am on since doing your courses and reading your book; they have motivated me. I haven’t told my Husband this either! What a sorry and sad place to be not sharing intimacy and privacy. So yes your letter arrived at a good time for me. Thank you.

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I too have now gone through menopause and love I celebrate it. There is such a freedom of not having periods, I love it. I noticed with horror yesterday though, my skin on upper inner arms is crepey and saggy.  It hit me hard, aging is happening and there is nothing I can do……except live life to the fullest while I can.

Hence walking the Camino in October and then following a month in France to celebrate turning 60 in November.

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My experience with perimenopause started like you described – just little differences here and there. Then a skipped period a couple times one year. Then a few normal. Then nothing. No moodiness, hot flashes, or other “usual” symptoms. I think there’s a lot of women who slip relatively seamlessly into menopause, but what we hear about are the ugly symptoms and difficult times.

My mother’s generation barely talked about anything “personal” and that’s too bad. My mother’s experience was completely different because nobody warned her or educated her. So I’m glad it’s not such a “big deal” anymore to talk about it. It’s a bodily function for goodness sake!! Talking about farting and constipation is more acceptable in “polite” society than talking about your period and what happens when your body changes from child-bearing to non child-bearing.

Part of the whole experience – whether you want children or not – is mental and emotional, knowing that you’ve reached an age where your body says you shouldn’t be having children. That’s a choice your body/nature makes, not because you wake up one day and say ok, I’m done ever wanting kids now. Plants bear fruit (children to carry on in their place) and then die or wither or go dormant. So there’s this little voice in the back of your head wondering if you’re about to wither up and die because your child-bearing days have passed. But we’re not plants. We’re wonderful spiritual beings having a human experience and that experience continues. It just changes. Like learning to walk changed everything. Like leaving home and living on your own changed everything. Like starting your own business changed everything. A new chapter to write.

And did I mention so much cheaper to not have a period? No worry about getting pregnant? (Well…. after you’ve been without a period for a year – then no worry.) I wish for you an easy transition physically and emotionally. And thank you for being open about your experiences.

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Oh my goodness!! I also had my period 10 days late this month and took 3 pregnancy tests then after reading this began to wonder if I might also be experiencing premenopausal symptoms (I am 40). Thank you for sharing. I think women are actually quite ripe to talk about (and learn about) this subject. Bring it on!

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I hear you Susannah. I’m 43 but with chronic Lyme have been skipping periods and experiencing hot flashes occasionally for about a year. I have never wanted children so I don’t feel that regret, but I have missed the feeling of release and cleansing the cycle has brought whenever I miss. If you haven’t looked into it, I highly recommend this resource: New Menopausal Years: Alternative Approaches for Women 30-90 (Wise Woman Herbal)

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Oh thank you for writing about this, we so need to be talking about peri-menopause more. And more than just from a clinical perspective. We need to discuss the emotional and spiritual perspective too.

I am 48 years old and have been dealing with many of the physical symptoms of perimenopause for the the last 4 or 5 years. Hot flashes, mood swings (and not little ones but more like hurricanes), cramps like I used to get when I started my periods. Than about two years ago I started to be late, 10 days one month, 20 the next, on time the next. Then I started going 60 days without a period, a couple of times I even went 120 days. Which brought on so many new physical symptoms, just as heart burn, sleeplessness, increased anxiety, breast tenderness. When all of this started to change I felt like I was losing my essence, the who of who I was. Plus being tired and hot all of the time left me little of my normal mojo.

I am supporting myself through this life transitions with weekly acupuncture, slowing down, pacing myself, prioritizing sleep, eating intuitively (no more dieting and the stress it causes in my body), daily movement preferably outside, and so many other things.

One thing that has helped me to change my perspective about this change, to embrace the power of it and the power of being of women, it to look at the wisdom of Chinese medicine and how they see perimenopause and the menopause as a good thing. It is known as a women’s second spring. This is the time in her life where her life energy is directed inward not outward and she literally has a second spring, a second blossoming. So in a way the discomfort and feeling like I am being turned inside out as I transition is kind of a rebirth.

So the real question is what am I going to do with my new blossoming? How am I going to live? I can feel these deep changes inside how I approach life, a lot less striving and proving and so much more enjoying, savoring. And for me so much more creative output, since I am not spending so much of my energy outside of myself. I have so much more for myself. Saying No is getting so much easier too. I can’t wait to see what happens when my body finally is done with menstruating and I fully enter menopause. I am no longer scared of this unknown space I am entering that has been vilified but rather I am now more curious about what is next for me. I feel excitement. Sure I can’t work 14 to16 hour days any more but the sweetness I am experiencing is so worth it. Plus I get to sleep more and who doesn’t like that! It is like I have waited my whole like to finally feel comfortable in my body and my soul. If that makes any sense?  I still have a long way to go, my last two cycles were right on time. So I am trying to hold it loosely watch this process with curiosity and wonder, trust my intuition to guide me to the next right thing for me.

And the whole concept of the second spring is what changed my perspective.

When my period started last time I was a bit disappointed, as I like who I am becoming now. I like embracing my second spring, a time in my life for me. So let’s keep talking.

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Thank you!!! I once knew someone who briefly touched on her own experiences with reproductive health, and when I shared mine she reacted with disgust. We really ought to normalize talking about these issues because it’s just a part of life. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s totally worth talking about.

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I just read your newsletter – and I felt very moved by you and by your words about menopause. I agree with you – menopause and perimenopause are little talked about… a deep gash in our culture that does not acknowledge the feminine or female experience.

I know from my own experience that the menopause decade+++ heralds an exceptional time in our lives.

At the beginning of my menopause, at age 50 I fell head-over-heels in love with my best friend, a woman who I’m now married to. Alongside this earthquake of identity morphing I felt a profound surge in my connection to life, to choosing my own life path, to my own creativity…and more…it was not easy. I felt thrown out of the nest of my own self image, my youth, my fertility and my cultural/social identity. Where we need change -menopause will take us. The grief/loss/rage also spiralled round to places that could not be healed until they returned to me through the menopause cycle – my teenage hood, my desperately poor relationship to my body, perpetual sexual acting out with men. Everything that hormones rule got scrambled. And when those hormones started to leave my system I felt the body memory of the chaotic creative surge of teenage-hood and behind that the even earlier body memory of prepubescence. I found a dimension of my authentic girlhood that had been lost in all the hormone-shitstorm that menstruation had unleashed!

Menopause has brought me a chance to see with older, softer, wiser eyes and heal what I couldn’t heal while I was too sharp, too pointed and chaotic. I laugh a lot more, find myself peeing my pants at odd moments and really not caring – the sense of being looked at lessens, the sense of being the looker and a participant in life increases. Fertility takes root in other places…

I feel a strange weird longing to return to the earlier state of peri-menopause you describe so beautifully, knowing that you will be going through a wild extraordinary journey that will bring you profound insights, kindnesses, angers and irritations that will humble and enrich you.

I’m looking forward to reading your travels as you make your incredible journey.

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I suppose I’ve entered perimenopause. And funnily enough, the topic of peri/menopause came up in my current online class (of women). Definitely a topic that is deserving of attention. I imagine there are months of strangeness and adjustment ahead of me… I get what you were saying about the being out of control bit. We women sure are amazing, aren’t we?

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Thank you for this – I love it! I’ve felt the same way – no one speaks of peri-menopause or menopause, sadly. Last month I missed my period completely for the first time and things just didn’t feel right in me. I’m 52, so the time is here, but like you, it’s felt like it’s a ways away. In any case, I’m grateful for your thoughts and feelings in my inbox!

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About the things we don’t talk about.
I lived with my menstrual cycle 55 years.
Longer than with both husbands combined.
And yes, getting out was as hard as divorce (first husband) and death (second husband).
With much the same issues – who am I now? what will my life be now? what am I surrendering/grieving as I close this chapter?
I’m also struggling with “permission” to do my life my way, to think what I think, and say what I want.

Finally decided that God/life have made me who I am. That is all the permission I need to be myself, to do myself.

As they say: you go, girl!

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This is the first time I felt compelled to email and say thank you for talking about this!

Soon I will turn 40, and I’ve begun to really notice how western culture avoids conversations about aging, unless it’s Viagra for men and diapers for seniors. It seems, from both a consumerism point of view and on personal levels that health issues after 40 are only spoken of in very narrow terms, rather than in a way that encompasses our entire experience, emotionally, physically and otherwise.

So, I am grateful you decided to speak of how things change and its impact on you on multiple levels.

We are nuanced as humans. I appreciate the people who shine a light on, and dance in, the nuance.

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Lovely, I have friends waiting for their period to stop at last!.. so…I have been there and for me it wasn’t a big deal….the problem is usually what it comes with…like hot flashes etc…but even that is different for every woman. So…I hope you go through that in a smooth way. It will not change the person or woman you are really, it will be like any other changes we go through over life and growing up. You are beautiful and wonderful period or not period. I know that.

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Thank you thank you thank you thank you.

I’m 51, in the middle of a 2 week period – feeling tired low and emotional. (Very).

No one talks about it you’re quite right, other than those who say they don’t know what the fuss is about.

I’m struggling massively with depression and tiredness and fibroids etc etc. But it’s an invisible thing – and I’m so angry that my GP has no information and I’m struggling alone.

Without internet support I think I’d just give up! Thank you wholeheartedly for raising this.

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Thank you for sharing :-) i have started this same conversation in Colorado. Menopause needs to be normalized, supported and embraced.

I am 44 and symptoms have begun and i am embracing this journey. And it is hard!

Crones Unite!

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I can totally relate to your words about the loss of control over the changes in my body. I just turned 54 and over the last year or two I’ve noticed my body “doing its own thing”.  I’ve experienced weight gain around the middle, muscle/strength loss and more buildup of ripple-y fat under my skin (ugh!!)

I haven’t exactly helped it much by regular exercise but it has caught me off guard because before that wasn’t a problem.

What really has hit home is that I’m aging and I can see it now. My face has changed and I’m now the older woman. It escapes me right now who said this but it is so true: getting older is not for sissies! Lol

I also think about my mother who lived to 88 and how she must have felt with all the aches and pains and health issues she had. It definitely gives me pause when I think about getting older. But I am an optimist so I’ll keep shifting and changing as I need to to accommodate the changes life brings. Ironically, I do feel happier than I did as a young woman or even in my 40s with the crazy business lifestyle I had then. And the other thing that I’ve realized over the years is how we still feel like that 20 or 30 or 40 year old self inside and we just get more attuned to self as we go along.

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I love your honesty and openness! I am 54 and have spent a decade dealing with peri-into-menopause and it’s tough on so many levels. I live in US (Texas) and stumbled upon a You Tube channel called Menopause Taylor. She is a retired OB/GYN from Houston. She’s also written a book on menopause you can find in her video descriptions that is fabulous. She puts out a video every Tuesday and has 144 so far. It’s important to watch them in order. She doesn’t press one way over another on how to deal with what happens. She just gives facts and options and tells you to decide.

“Your menopause your way” is her catch phrase.

I’ve been an RN for over 30 years and was absolutely stunned by how much I learned from her. Things I always thought I knew or understood but did not. She’s eccentric and her personal style in real life is to dress in Victorian age clothing but that doesn’t bother me a whit. I hope you  find as much benefit from watching  her as I have. She’s  given me so much hope, guidance and I no longer feel like I’m reeling from all the changes we women go through.

I couldn’t agree more – we need to work to normalize the conversation around menopause

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Loved this! It inspired me to write to you. I’m currently working on a one woman show about perimenopause and menopause. It’s been a tough journey and one I’m still navigating somewhat blindly. This is no joke. Now I know what’s meant by the saying, aging isn’t for punks.

In addition to all you touched on, I’m also exploring the unrealistic expectations that people (men & women alike) place on actresses. Frankly, it’s infuriating and no one can live up to that. We’re people too! Not every actress feels comfortable speaking about something so personal in a public forum which opens us up to harsh unforgiving criticism. Or being told she’s being whiny and overreacting. And just like everyone else in the world, we can be prone to hearing and taking in the judgments because we’re judging ourselves. It also impacts our ability to earn future work. It’s alright for Gwyneth Paltrow to speak up because she is really no longer making her living as an actor (if she ever did) and has a multimillion dollar company to support her financially. Basically, she’s hella rich. Good for her but not all of us are so lucky. So there’s financial risk involved as well as emotional.

Instead of demanding or expecting a famous person to help you feel better about your life and experience be revealing their personal struggle, why don’t you reveal your own? It’s really not our responsibility to give you a voice. Do it yourself.  I don’t mean to harp but having to be an aspirational figure (that’s worth someone spending money on to watch) and then also talk about your personal life on a sensitive issue is an unreasonable burden. And what if an actress looks much younger than she actually is and by result have a wider range of roles available and talking about her age and menopause negatively impacts that? Great if an actress doesn’t care or is rich & famous already but there are thousands of us rich or not, who may not feel comfortable or secure career-wise that. Because men are still running the show. I’m having to face my own insecurities regarding that and let me assure you, it ain’t easy.

Congrats on facing and embracing the change your body is going through. I totally get it. But don’t criticize other women for not speaking up. You do it (as you’ve begun to) and encourage your readers to as well. Recognize it’s a cultural shaming and silencing. Empathy and compassion is what is required here, for ourselves and other women too. Including famous and not so famous actresses.

Thanks for letting me know that there is a burgeoning audience for this work. It can be hard to tell sometimes. Maybe this is something women can once again rally around each other.

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That was a breath of fresh air. Thank you for talking about all of that! As another woman who is going through menopause without many of the issues (so far) let me assure you that you should indeed talk about everything you need to. Not sure why that woman had to tell you to keep a lid on it; perhaps she felt anyone mentioning it would bring it on her? Too many people can’t hold their own counsel but must try to regulate everything around them including the words of those they are reading – and that’s a really sad thing. I think there’s a connection there with women having been under the thumb of patriarchy for so long.

Since I had the Essure procedure done in 2012 before I was perimenopausal (much to the disgust of my female OBGYN who clearly thought I should just wait it out and must be just wanting to have sex with my husband more – she was damn right on that regard) the things I have felt in my body, I figured were due more to being overweight and that procedure than being perimenopausal. Also I took and continue to take all the supplements I could to hopefully quell the symptoms.

What I’d love to hear? Stories from people like me who never had kids (one abortion in college), and entering menopause. For those of us who follow a metaphysical path, how do we relate to the mother feminine in this regard? I never wanted kids and didn’t feel right bringing a life into this world because it was expected of me. But now, that this part of my life force is ending? I, too, feel the change, and I’m wondering how to connect to that inner fierceness and step through to my next best me.

Sorry for writing a tome; your words engendered this response in me and I felt compelled to reply.

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I’m also 46 and completely get what you’re saying about the future event now being here.

I’m glad you’re talking about it (thank you). I have had times when I’ve looked around and thought I can’t be the only one going through this stage of life.

For me, so far so good. I’m also taking supplements and doing Pilates and haven’t yet had big cycle changes. But they’re coming.

My mum also said she breezed through perimenopause but I have a feeling she was so disconnected from her body and had no circle of women to call on that she didn’t notice the changes.

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I just wanted to say that as I really appreciated reading your raw and real thoughts on menopause. I know that sounds lame but as a 30 year old woman there have been so many things about fertility that haven’t been appropriate to discuss and therefore trying to find solid unbiased but personal/real information about what to expect is so difficult – so we go through these stages alone, for no reason!

I’m so glad to see brave women like yourself forging a new path saying it’s okay to talk about this stuff; we need more information, more acceptance and more awareness.

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soooo i just turned 50 last august, and along with that came the knowledge of hooking up with this amazing gyno woman near my town i moved to … i learned that ya don’t have to have any problems with peri/menopause in order to have a gyno in your back pocket perhaps helping with hormones, migraines, brain fog and much much more…

i am lucky, i don’t have many symptoms (yet) except brain fog and zero memory, but the odd migraine …

this rockstar gyno shares with groups she talks to (have heard her speak a few times now … she is a funny, wise ass, swearing badass turning the medical system on its tail for women & menopause and the suffering they endure!) to share with our friends, talk about our symptoms, and keep sharing sharing sharing cuz she says by not sharing we aren’t helping anyone, and the medical system is built around patriarchy (hell yeah it is) so nobody is listening to us so we must find our peers, our gynos, health care practitioners etc who are there to help us!

phew, sorry i could blab on and on and on … but the long and the short of it is i now share with ALL my gfs what my gyno has shared with me, and one of my friends who had a female gyno who refused to give my friend surgery (that she needed for 8 yrs of pain) and a male gyno gave it to her finally … so there are wonderful men out there advocating for us too … but the main point is talk to all your people and keep sharing sharing sharing …

2 things:

1) i have a female dr friend and she told me she learned NOTHING about menopause in medical school. #sad!

2) i now say “sorry mentalpause” to all kinds of people now, older men, younger men, older women, younger women every time i forget something or can’t manage to multitask …. i say it to educate THEM more than i do it to actually say sorry … cuz as one of my female friends ( 10 yrs older than me ) shared with me “going thru menopause is like becoming a man, you can’t multitask anymore, so just enjoy only having to focus on one thing at a time now” hahahahah

so much to share but i just want you to know you are not alone, do NOT let any health care practitioner NOT hear your concerns and worse NOT help you … find someone who listens and IS ope to helping you on your journey … be it hormones, or surgery or anything that you think will help you get thru this time.

i learned that by sharing, every single one of my gf’s had a story to share, and usually much much worse than mine … i think it is empowering them to speak and demand to be listened to … hence writing you!

lets all get talking and sharing the hard stuff and the good stuff (it’s not all bad) about perimenopause and menopause!

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Hello Fellow Perimenopausal Being,

Yes it is a big deal and yes it is odd being out of control. I never know when the next period it coming. It is like some weird orbit of some distant comet that occasionally decides to loop the earth. (However unlike Halley’s comet no-one gets out of bed an ungodly hours to watch me with a telescope – I hope)

It feels like a big joke sometimes. I had no period for a year and planned my menopausal Crowning the Crone party. I bought beautiful Ginko earrings and invited my bestest ladies to cheer me on through this rite of passage. On exactly the anniversary of my last bleed, the eve of my party it showed up again. Well I am only 45 and I thought a tad young. Not a period since then and I’m lucky as the worst of the symptoms are over. I think.

It has been a huge blessing in some ways and I feel incredibly liberated from this seasaw of emotions. It has brought huge healing dreams which have resolved traumas, acceptance of myself and my relationships with my family, and while there is a bone tiredness at times, most of the time I feel I am stepping into greater strength. I have got over being awkward about being shy and scared to do stuff. I created a weekly class called Pussy Power and it is for women to talk about sex, hormones, periods, rage, patriarchy and being authentic. I could never have done this before the trial by fire (hot flushes).

I really recommend Yoni Shakti by Uma Dinsmore-Tuli. It is a fabulous BIBLE of yoga practices for women through all phases of life. Plus Red School – an online school but they have regular workshops. I found the Menarche online course really helpful to navigate perimenopause. But really my body has been the greatest teacher. All those crazy symptoms are a barometer to stop and listen.

Stepping into the void takes courage, but something will seep into that void eventually. What do you want it to be? (I love that you filled the actual void in your house with a meditation space). Go you!

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I think it’s wonderful that you are talking about this. I turned 50 last August and also thought I was prepared for changes, but last fall my usually-regular period just stopped. Nothing for three months. It really freaked me out!!! I was so happy when it came back again!! And then this last cycle, I was a week late, and again very happy to see it. I realized I’m not quite ready to be a woman who is in menopause–I still feel like I’m in my 30s (and sometimes I feel like I’m in my teens, lol). But it’s here nevertheless, and I am trying to make peace with it. It helps to have other women who are also experiencing this talk about it openly!

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You always know exactly what to say! I too am 46, and as a physician (not currently practicing clinical medicine), I believe perimenopause is highly under discussed in terms of its impact and importance. There seems to be more focus on menopause and management, which is past the point of the rollercoaster-like hormones of perimenopause! My periods during perimenopause interfere with my usual activities but I know the options are limited given I started getting menstrual migraines in my late 30’s. The only solace is knowing “it too shall pass”, but in the midst of this experience, it doesn’t seem soon enough! It’s refreshing to hear your perspective, and of course, in such a beautifully delivered way!

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Gah, and doctors are no help and confuse the issue even more. Oh, no, they say, your test results say you aren’t in perimenopause. Ignoring any other possible symptoms, I suppose skipping a whole month followed by an on time cycle that lasts a whole month is nothing.

And there is a lot of info on the net but, in a way, it’s too much or too contradictory? Or not enough? So yes, we need more openness and more dialog and more accurate (even if diverse) info.

Honestly I’m confused. Am I or am I not in perimenopause. And what should I do about it!

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I’m 55, and in full swing with menopause.
On and off periods for the past 5 years. (sorry) ;)
Hot flashes.
Mood swings.
Cravings.
Questions.
Frustrations.

And yes – even surrender.

From what I know of you (online), you’ll be just fine thru menopause. You’ll know exactly what you need to do (or not do) for yourself. You’ll be gentle with yourself, as you are with others. You’ll write. You’ll have hot baths. You’ll read.

It’s a pain in the ass, but we’ll be ok.

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THANK YOU for writing about perimenopause! I’m 43 and was late with my period for the first time this month. My husband had a vasectomy 6 years ago, but I immediately went into a panic spiral about being pregnant. I finally went to my gynecologist, and she pointed out various symptoms I’ve been experiencing for over a year (!) that indicate I’m in perimenopause.

And you’re right — no one talks about it. I just knew that menopause would happen, I’d maybe get some hot flashes, and that would be it. No one around me ever talked about what leads up to menopause. And now I want to talk about it with everyone — to hear experiences, and to prepare those younger than I am.

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Ohhhhh Susannah! I was about your age when I started the menopause adventure. I was also in a hugely stressful job which I think helped to start things a bit earlier than they would have naturally! Things had been fairly simple according to my mothers experience so I thought mine would be the same way. NOT SO! I struggled! Huge mood swings—lots of weeping seemingly for no reason at all. All my husband had to do was look at me and away I went! My doctor gave me something to help and I took it gratefully. All this occurred years before people were actively looking for more natural approaches. Of course at this point I would have tried anything to hang onto my sanity! Of course I got through it as we all do. I too love being a woman. However, I must admit it seems a bit unfair that we have to bleed monthly for years; be ripped apart just to bring a new life into the world and then–or a final touch–be driven somewhat mad as we go into the last phases when we get to relinquish all the bloody and painful stuff. Whew!

I can’t think of any helpful advice to give you except that you will eventually get through it and on the other side, things are still interesting. You can still be beautiful—not like at 20 or even 40, but still beautiful in the ways that matter. My hair is white (I started that part in my late teens), I am heavier than I would like to be. My skin is still not too wrinkled amazingly enough. I like myself. It is all okay. I turned 76 last December. My heart turned 25. That might be the secret…

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i am turning 53 by the end of the month and i deal with that topic for 8 years now. it was hard in the beginning because i was in a difficult personal situation when my body turned wild. during a 10-day-stay in the hospital getting a myoma removed, i started to read christiane northrup’s book and i immediately knew that my life would never be the same. not because my body wouldn’t allow my mental control but because i read about the chances that lie in that period of life. i struggled quite a long time with heat flushes, sleepless nights and mood ups and downs. but when i read that book i found out that this period of time shows us what doesn’t belong to us. and every time a flush overwhelmed me, i knew that something wrong was happening. it took quite some time to realize that, and at the end i decided to separate from my partner for 18 years, try a hormonal gel which can be applied on the skin and which i can use whenever it gets bad feeling heated up. since then i am turning into a wild woman who just follow her instincts, relying on her belly (which i never was) what helped me also was reading “women who run with the wolves” because it tells a lot about the patterns of society which are on women. highly recommended if you haven’t read it already!

i agree that a lot of women don’t talk about menopause but it’s just because of that pattern, because they think they stop being women. and that isn’t the case at all. just the opposite! you will become a great wild and wise woman, stay strong and vulnerable!

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I’m grateful for your openness about perimenopause. I suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome and have had wonky hormone cycles since having my daughter at 22, so wonky is normal. I don’t know how much that impacts my experience, but perimenopause is kicking my ass.

It blew up on me about 1.5 years ago.  My short term memory is a mess, like I can’t cook without a timer. But also I live so much in the present I forget things like wanting to phone my adult children when they’re available and I struggle with maintaining connection with pieces of writing that aren’t finished (I worry I’m no longer capable of writing a book, my biggest life dream).  I live by post-it notes and my phone calendar. Perimenopause also crashed with my Fibromyalgia to give me the worst pain flares I’ve known at every cycle and sometimes ovulation (strangely lunar eclipses are the worst). But my greatest struggle is with the mental health piece. Perimenopause brings me anxiety, depression, and cyclical nihilism. The nihilism is the most disturbing because I have always found deep meaning in life. Now I feel like that crucial piece of me is missing and it’s affecting my relationships and my creative life.

Fortunately there is a supplement my naturopath recommended called DIM, made from cruciferous veggies like broccoli, that helps with estrogen regulation, and while it hasn’t stopped the pain flares, it has mellowed out my hormonal symptoms. I have no PMS symptoms at all, no more heating up at night, and my moods aren’t nearly as intense. It also helps my daughter with her PCOS symptoms. Might be useful to others.