The Perimenopause 411: The Secret Truths We’re Too Afraid to Share

Ever wondered why menopause gets all of the spotlight and attention? Perimenopause, that hormone-shifting phase that women go through during middle-age, is like the little stepsister who everyone forgets about.

And yet, understanding this “oh-so-enjoyable” menopausal precursor is so important!

Before menopause strikes, women end up going through a ten (or more) year period where their hormones begin to fluctuate, periods get closer together, and their bodies and brains go through some uncomfortable changes. Sounds like a delight, now doesn’t it? It’s like puberty, only at an older age and worse, because you can’t get away with sassing your parents and blaming it on being a naïve teenager (Remember those days?).

So, whether you’ve already hit this “phase of life” (Don’t you just love that phrase?) or are tiptoeing around it, here are a few truths that you may already be noticing but don’t really feel like you can share or ask about. Let’s dive into the “hush, hush” pool of perimenopause, shall we?

Your Peeing Habits Become Embarrassing

Yes, you read that right. Whether you end up ducking into the bathroom ten to fifteen times a day, fear going to a store where you don’t have the bathroom locations memorized, or end up peeing yourself when you sneeze, you know the drill. Perimenopause does some weird things to your bladder.

You either end up having to pee far more frequently than usual – even drinking something little, like a small cup of water, can send you on a poddy search party – and it messes with your pelvic muscles too. Be prepared to do that “leg lock” panic maneuver when you sneeze, cough, or laugh too hard, lest you end up having to change your undies once again!

The Rage Will Consume You

If you’ve never had a good ol’ fashioned mood swing, this one will surprise you. There’s nothing quite like going from zero to sixty on the “rage-o-meter.” One minute you’ll be fine, the next, you’ll be slightly irritated, and then after that?

Your rage may just jump off the charts! Small things, like wondering where your husband is at 2am when you thought he’d be in bed (and you find him innocently sitting in front of the computer playing a video game or something) will be enough to make you see red.

The irritability and following rage-fest are due to your hormone fluctuations, especially your dropping estrogen levels. But don’t worry, you're not alone. Others are in the same boat with you - they’re just not talking about it.

Anxiety Overload

Every woman who’s never experienced anxiety before is in for a real treat when perimenopause hits. That panicky feeling that leaves you unsure of everything, jumping at loud noises, and worrying incessantly is called anxiety. Why does perimenopause do this to you?

Well, your levels of that lovely hormone – estrogen – begin to drop, throwing off the neurotransmitters in your brain, particularly serotonin. The end result? Anxiety (and also depression,) especially when you factor in the fact that hot flashes will prevent you from sleeping well, which also messes with your brain chemistry.

Oh, the joys of perimenopause!

Hot Flashes? WHAT?

Wait, yes, we did just mention those! Hot flashes, which entail the “oh-so-special” overwhelming feeling of heat in your upper body, particularly your face, are not just associated with full-on menopause.

They can actually sneak up on you in the middle of perimenopause, leading you to strip off clothing layers in the middle of the grocery store or run out into the cold of winter without a coat on. These heat culprits might make you feel as though you’re going crazy, but trust us, you’re not – it’s just your hormones playing evil tricks on you.

And that’s the 411 on perimenopause – in a nutshell. Doesn’t it sound like a dream vacation? While all these little truths may have your head reeling, the good news is that the women all around you are swimming in the same hormonal sea of uncertainty you are.

So, don’t fret. The best thing to do is break the “Shhhhh cycle,” and share your experiences with your lovely lady circle, so you can all pee, sweat, and laugh together!