Entering Menopause? Surprise! Here’s What’s Actually Happening ‘Down There’

Puberty came late for me. 

As I talked about here, I was 16 before it slammed into me seemingly overnight. 

Do not feel bad for me — I was not in a hurry. In fact, I was thrilled to be what my gynecologist referred to as a “late bloomer.”

The reason my OB/GYN said this was because my mom, convinced there was something wrong with my body, dragged me to the doctor at 15. 

She grilled that poor man, asking if I’d arrested my bodily development with years of gymnastics, dance or tennis, sure that I had stunted my puberty with rigorous sport. 

He assured her I was healthy, just one of those “late bloomers.” 

I wanted to keep it that way — my friends had shared horror stories about their periods, and I was more than happy to live my life without that *gestures around my down there* mess. 

But all good things must come to an end, and much to my dismay, the dreaded menstrual cycle entered my life, ruining my Bloomies ‘Saturday’ undies and my favorite pair of white Esprit shorts. 

And every month since, it’s been coming back without fail — until last year. 

I am perimenopausal and all the complaining I did? I regret it, because this is not fun, would not recommend, 0/10 stars, I’d like to go back to complaining about my regular monthly visitor. 


What Is Perimenopause? 

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “Perimenopause is the transitional time around menopause. Menopause is when a woman’s periods stop.

“It’s marked by changes in the menstrual cycle, along with other physical and emotional symptoms. This time can last 2 to 10 years.”

2 to 10 years?? I hate it!!

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The_Perimenopause_Experience (@the_perimenopause_experience)

And during this time, which could be up to 10 years, your body:

  • Releases eggs less regularly

  • Produces less estrogen and other hormones

  • Becomes less fertile

  • Has shorter and more irregular menstrual cycles

This is all true because it is currently happening to me. Although I cannot feel my egg shortage or my shrinking fertility, I can vouch for wildly irregular periods. 

Before this change kicked in, my periods were so regular you could set a watch by them — maybe a day early, but never late and never a surprise. 

Not anymore! Now my period shows up twice in 2 weeks — granted, it’s light and only sticks around for a few days — but it counts. 


View this post on Instagram













A post shared by Perimenopause Sisterhood (@ohhelloperry)

Sometimes it doesn’t come at all! And even though perimenopause means you’re less fertile because of an egg shortage, it still scares the shit out of me pregnancy scare-wise. 

Then the rational side of my brain kicks in and laughs at my irrational side for imagining I could be pregnant because I’m now less fertile. And then I cry! Because of hormones! It’s a roller coaster and I barf on roller coasters. 

What Causes Perimenopause?

Why is this happening to me? 

Well, perimenopause is “a natural process caused when your ovaries gradually stop working.”

Ovulation will become fleeting and then completely stop, as your menstrual cycle gets longer and becomes irregular before your final period.

If that sounds ominous to you, you’re not alone — and there’s no allotted time period here either! Your body is just doing this shit on its own schedule and you’re at the mercy of your uterus. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Perimenopause Sisterhood (@ohhelloperry)

The changing levels of hormones in the body are responsible for this horseshit — when estrogen is higher, you may have symptoms like you experience with PMS. 

But when estrogen is lower, you might have hot flashes or night sweats, all mixed in with a normal period cycle here and there. 

You never know, it’s a free-for-all down yonder — like a party you do not want to attend but attendance is mandatory. 

Symptoms Of Perimenopause

I asked my gynecologist (who prefers to remain OTR) to explain perimenopause to me in layman’s terms, and he says, “Basically, the female reproductive system has a stop and start date.

“The starting point is puberty when menstruation begins, and the stopping part is menopause. Perimenopause is the slowing down point – it’s not ending yet, but things are beginning to shut down reproductively.”

That pretty much wraps it up in a depressing brown bow – it’s not a bright red bow, because my periods are pretty much an off-red hue (I’m sorry for this attempt at a joke but I stand by it).  

Not all women will have the same symptoms when experiencing perimenopause, but the most common symptoms include: 

  • Mood changes (check)

  • Changes in sexual desire (check)

  • Trouble concentrating (always)

  • Headaches (YES)

  • Night sweats (not yet)

  • Hot flashes (not yet)

  • Vaginal dryness (I haven’t checked)

  • Trouble with sleep (always) 

  • Joint and muscle aches (nope)

  • Heavy sweating (not yet)

  • Having to pee often (YES)

  • PMS-like symptoms (LOL check)

Be sure to check with your OB/GYN if you’re suffering from any of these symptoms — perimenopause may mimic other conditions. You should always talk to a doctor for a definitive diagnosis.

Perimenopause Diagnosis

It can be hard to tell if you are perimenopausal — I had bloodwork done to check my hormone levels. 

A diagnosis can be given based on your symptoms, medical history, age, and a physical exam in addition to blood tests. 

Is There Treatment?

Perimenopause isn’t life-threatening and while it doesn’t need to be treated, if the symptoms are affecting your quality of life, there are ways to alleviate them!

Treatments may include:

  • Hormone therapy uses estrogen or estrogen and progestins to level out hormone levels

  • Antidepressants to stabilize moods

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Perimenopause Sisterhood (@ohhelloperry)

Lifestyle changes:

  • Eat a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables and whole grains

  • Get at least 1,000-1,200 mg of calcium each day through your diet or supplements

  • Exercise regularly

  • Find what triggers your hot flashes (for example, alcohol, coffee, or tea) by keeping a record

  • Discuss the use of other treatments in relieving symptoms with your doctor

Some women use herbal supplements to help with hot flashes, but they are not regulated by the FDA, so always talk to your healthcare provider before using any supplements. 

It’s OK To Be Emotional

The moral of this story is that aging can be strange and even scary. 

In addition to the physical symptoms, I was unprepared for the emotional aspect — and it’s been intensely emotional. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Perimenopause Sisterhood (@ohhelloperry)

Even though I know deep in my heart that I do not, and have never wanted children, it still stings when your body betrays you and says that ship has sailed. 

It is truly a bumpy ride (thank you, hormones) and I don’t want to get off, but fewer potholes would be appreciated. 

Granted, it’s the cycle of life but it’s jarring when it actually arrives. 

I spent so much time bemoaning my period and actually saying, “I can’t wait for menopause.”

Be careful what you wish for. 


Have you experienced any early menopause symptoms? Let us know in the comments below!

Want More Health Info? Then You Should Read:

Join the Conversation