Let us talk menopause (perimenopause) for a minute…

by Samantha Bacchus McLeod

…your vagina gets fat. Yes, it actually looks like third belly just tucked itself up in there.

Menopause turns your world upside down and inside out…for a while, but armed with information and understanding of our own bodies, we can right this terrible wrong.

Remember those striped beach balls in comic books? Well, it looks and feels like one of those just bounced right up off a comic book and ended up in your lower stomach. Now, it feels like the joke is on you.

The menopause can give rise to over 30 symptoms. Symptoms ranging from the widely recognised hot flush and sweats, to other symptoms such as nausea and anxiety.

Hot flashes are not random. Nope. It runs on a clock, I swear. Upon waking up there is a quick 1-minute hot flash that stretches for 60 loooong seconds.
At 10 pm there will be a couple in a row shooting through your body like quick shots of adrenaline, mind you without any excitement to come.
Except, if randomly during the day you get stressed for some reason then a hot flash will lightning-quick remind you to calm the fuck down.

There will be dark thoughts, mean thoughts, odd impulses, and even depression. Sometimes there will be utter confusion in why one even gets up in the morning.

There will be forgetfulness that will make you wonder if it is Alzheimer’s Disease.

There will be food issues, you will react weirdly to foods you have eaten your whole life. You will inflate with gases, you will go from svelte to “fat” in 60 seconds.

There will be insane saltiness on your palate at the most inopportune moments – like at a menu tasting in some high-end restaurant where the chef is watching your every bite.

You don’t suffer insomnia exactly, but you will be wide awake until about 2 am. This is annoying, especially when you truly love early morning city walks.

Menstruations will show up, or not, or it will last for weeks.

Emotion, oh woman. Yeah you will go along having a lovely vacay, or be in the middle of a perfectly innocent conversation, and suddenly explode like a dumbass over a comment or situation.

Listen up. It is not them…it is you. The question you really need to ask yourself is…What to do?

I am no expert, I mean expert status is when you have done something so many times that you are a pro, or you have studied something in science labs and classrooms and got a degree. Well, thank the heavens I ain’t no expert cause that sounds like hell. Can you imagine? Hello, I am a menopause expert, I have hot flashed for the past 20 years and am now recognised as one of the best in my field. Egads!

But hold up, it is your body and you will get the hang of it again. Understanding your body will help you stress less.

Sometimes, most times, it is not you going mad, feeling sad, wanting to quit everything and run away. It is the little bastards called hormones.

You can spend years ignoring the niggling worries, or you can cut the crap and cut to the chase. Step one, go see your doctor as soon as possible.

Record everything – jot down, clock times, keep track of every tiny thing you wonder about – for a month and then go see your doctor armed with this pertinent information. Ask them to check out all those random things that bother you…do I have cancer? Is it IBS? Am I going mad? Do they hate me? Do I hate Me? AM I dying?

Here are my top ten things to do:

Make an appointment with your doctor, Get off WebMD, immediately. While you are at it, stop going to Mayo Clinic too.

Gather up those notes, or at the least start recording them over the next few weeks, and make an appointment with your doctor.

Ask your doctor to check out every conceivable concern you have to put your mind at ease.

Follow through with all the testing. Follow through with all the lifestyle changes recommended.

Change your diet by going 90 percent sugar-free.

Find a workout you like and keep going until you learn to love it.

Reconnect with friends in your age group. Reconnect with friends who get you (cut ties with the ones who only need you to get them stuff, or only need you to be their scratching post). Also read this piece on Body Shaming.

Love yourself.

Lean into it.

Remember nothing about you, the real you, have really changed.
Your arms look good. Your skin is nice-ish. Your eyes are still beautiful, your lips, cheekbones, nose, limbs, all of it…still the same. You feel strong. You are still kind, and sweet most times. The hormones are bitches but that too shall pass.

Look at all your pretty clothes. Doesn’t that mani/pedi look good? A hot bubble bath when it is cold outside is still a thing to sink into and enjoy. Buy bigger panties and lots of them, nice pure cotton comfy ones. Embrace your new eating plan like it is an adventure (it is). Plan mini-vacays to break up the mundanity of menopause-life. Read more feel-good books. Start your memoirs, because now you feel like you have a heck of a lot more to say. Binge on visually gorgeous, intelligent, thought-provoking shows that inspire you to feel like a woman again, shows like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Rub the beach ball. Pat it lovingly. Like it, because that is a part of you babe. That is a few decades of life on this earth, that is you WOMAN and You. Are. Beautiful.

When you feel overwhelmed, lean into it and spread your arms wide and say it out loud…I am woman. Hear me roar!

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