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Could it be Perimenopause???

The short answer is maybe.

Perimenopause is a process that can last as little as 2 years or as long as 12 years (average 4 years), so you could be experiencing some subtle changes even if you have no symptoms. Or you might be fully in the thick of it and seeking a life raft!

There are so many questions and so much talk floating around the internet on Perimenopause. And I do not claim to know it all either.  It can be very confusing; knowing if you are in it, what it even is, how long it will last, how you are going to experience it and what you should do about it!

When most people are talking about "Menopause", they are actually describing the Perimenopause transition. Menopause marks the end of your menstrual cycles, and is diagnosed after you have gone 12 months without a period. Postmenopause is the phase after and can end up being a third of your life! It's crazy to me that we are taught so little about this important phase of life, because according to independent Nuffield Health Group, by 2050 it is estimated that approximately 200 million women in the US will have reached the average age of menopause.

Unfortunately there is no test for Perimenopause. Actually most Perimenopause savvy doctors and naturopaths will advise against testing hormones in relation to perimenopause because they fluctuate so much in this phase of life. It's also difficult to describe Perimenopause with only a checklist of symptoms, because, just like puberty and our fertile years of cycling; we all experience it differently depending on our genetics , overall health, life circumstances and awareness.

Of course there are common symptoms that I am sure you have heard about (or are experiencing as you read this); sore breasts, sleep disturbances, irritability, hot flashes, shorter cycles, longer cycles, fatigue, poor memory, night sweats, etc... These arise because our follicles are not as active and responsive as they once were - causing low or no progesterone, and eventually low estrogen. Depending on how subtle these symptoms are for you, it can be hard to know what to do about them. There is no trophy for "getting through" Perimenopause in the perfect way. There are no medals awarded for the way you choose to navigate this transition, And more importantly, there should be no judgement.

But Perimenopause is so much more than a bundle of physical symptoms to dread. Yes, this can be part of it, I will not deny that. However I see so much value in looking at Perimenopause, like everything else in life, through a Menstrual Cycle Awareness lens. It is a significant and important phase of life! When we can practice daily cycle awareness and respond to our needs, we can shift our view of perimenopause from the "struggle" we are sold, to the vital language of our many buried layers.

Does this sound like woo woo? I understand it might.... but this phase of life is deserving of investigation, attention, curiosity, and an appetite for evolution and change. These qualities are the same qualities needed during the premenstrum, PMS and Inner Autumn phase of the cycle. This is not an accident. Perimenopause is the Inner Autumn Phase of life. It requires you to face yourself. All the shadows. All the cracks. All the cobwebs. All the hidden treasures. Our self care needs are shifting at this time, our psychological development, our spirit. We gain new perspectives and consciousnesses even if they scare us. We crave the support of other women. We feel a fire in our bellies to guide the next generation. We question our inner wisdom a little less. We feel the urge to apologize a little less.

All this GOLD would certainly go unnoticed if we are distracted by ONLY focusing on our physical symptoms. What if we consider those physical symptoms as an invitation to go deeper. To sink in. To turn over rocks in the river.

Robert Frosts quote, "The only way out is through." often rings in my ear when I ponder these questions. And I aim to navigate my Perimenopause journey with an open heart and mind. I think about how my mum experienced Perimenopause, and how my Nana Josephine felt about her blood pausing. I want to honour them through my experience of this rite of passage. My Grandmother Ruth, died when she was 53, four years before I was born. Was she in Perimenopause when she died? Did she make it through before she left this earth? This helps me see that being able to go through Perimenopause is a gift. It's a privilege. A passage . A Red Moon Passage as author Bonnie Horrigan would call it.

My mind is often full of ideas and needs of wanting to gather with other women more to talk about Perimenopause. I feel this need more and more as I get older. This is no accident either. I feel excited about what is to come out of the Pretty River Red Tent in support of the Perimenopause transition.

I stand firm in the belief that we need to "do Perimenopause" together, in community, with other women. So I would add to Robert Frost's quote, "The only way out is through and together."

When we come into relationship with the Perimenopause transition, we can hold the physical, emotional and spiritual experiences with a more balanced grasp. We can create a toolkit and a plan for our individualized reality, and have the knowledge and awareness to pivot if we need to.

Perimenopause is said to be many things, but I will leave you with the thought that it is a rite of passage that has a lot to teach us if we are listening.


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