Warning: As noted in the title, this is a discussion about Those Female Lady Parts. So, fellas, if you get squeamish hearing the following words — ovary, period, menstruation, menopause, among others — do yourself a favor and skip this post.
I’ve mentioned before how The Husband and I have had a fair amount of shit shoveled onto our plates over the summer, so the insomnia that started a couple of months ago didn’t surprise me, except it usually consisted of me waking up uncomfortable and sweaty. On the one hand, I’m a hot-natured person. If I say I’m cold, Satan is down in Hell wearing a parka. However, we’ve had an unusually cool-ish summer, and despite sleeping with the ceiling fan running, I still couldn’t cool off.
Then I noticed abnormally emotional bouts with PMS. Someone could raise an eyebrow to me and I’d erupt into tears with, “WHY DO YOU HATE ME?” Monthly cramps came on as strongly as they did during my teenage years, and other odd medical anomalies popped up that made me wonder what the frak was going on.
So I did a search of my symptoms. Yes, I know, it’s like opening Pandora’s Box. A small bump on your finger could be a zit or leprosy. (Don’t pop it! You could lose that finger!) What I kept seeing was the term “perimenopause” — defined by the Mayo Clinic as “the time period during which a woman’s body makes its natural transition toward permanent infertility.” Really, Mayo Clinic? That’s what you want millions of women to read when they can already have an emotional breakdown with the slap of a feather?
Please excuse me while knit myself an afghan to curl up with as I watch Matlock reruns.
I also take issue with the Mayo Clinic’s use of “natural transition” — because these symptoms do not feel natural. Is it really natural to wake up in the middle of the night sweating under a ceiling fan or to suddenly start sobbing because someone asked me to pass the salt?
But, Carla, it can’t be menopause; you’re only 41! Yep, and my mom told me that she started having the same symptoms around the same age. By the time she was 46, her Monthly Visitor had stopped making its regular appearances.
In coming to terms with this phase, (I refuse to call it “The Change.” It’s a change inside the body, not a metamorphosis into some alien-looking creature.) I propose that Hollywood reverse the way it depicts menstruation and menopause. When a girl gets her first period in a TV show or movie, the other women get excited and exclaim, “Oh, you’re a woman now!” Please… My mother did no such thing. If anything, she offered sympathy for the decades of monthly ups and downs ahead of me.
I definitely didn’t feel like a woman when it showed up for the first time — about a month before my twelfth birthday, during my last bathroom trip before going out to wait on the school bus. I still remember standing in the bathroom and shedding the first of many, many, MANY hormonal tears to come. Unable to compose myself in time, I missed my ride, and my mom had to take me to school.
And why does Hollywood love to show a middle-aged woman thinking she’s pregnant only to discover that her missed period is a result of menopause? All that’s missing is the WOMP womp of a horn section. Yes, yes, we can no longer have children. We are as barren as the dessert. We are now permanently infertile. Our biological clocks are deader than Kenny from South Park, you bastards…
There’s also the version of crazy hormonal lady a la Fried Green Tomatoes‘ Evelyn and her alter ego, Towanda. Movies and TV love to portray menopausal women as out of their heads due to their hormones being out of whack, so we end up thinking we need a Ned Stark Internet Meme to warn people.
Eh, that’s too tame…
That’s more like it…
What movies and TV need to show are girls experiencing a bummer attitude about having to put up with the ups and downs that come with a monthly cycle. The times they’re caught off guard with their period starting and no feminine hygiene product in sight. The times they’re going to freak out over being late and worry that they’re pregnant. The cramps… Oh, those damn cramps…
However, women finding out they’re perimenopausal need to whoop that shit up. They are almost done with this monthly burden, and it is time to let the champagne flow. Yeah, yeah, they’re biological clocks are sputtering their last breaths, but that doesn’t mean they’ve got one foot in the grave. They’re not any less of a woman just because they don’t have to buy tampons.
I, for one, look forward to sending my Monthly Visitor on a permanent vacation. I will help her pack and drive that bitch to the airport myself. I’ve eased the bat-shit crazy symptoms by making sure I keep up with regular exercise, and the other women in my family never experienced over-the-top issues with this change. My mom said her “hot flashes” were more like periodic night sweats, so I’m hoping for an average transition.
But y’all pray for The Husband. Just in case Ned Stark is right.