Originally published July 29, 2022.
Thank you for calling the perimenopause hotline. Our phone lines are flooded with an unexpected gush of calls right now, but we assure you that our specialists are working hard to absorb this heavy flow and someone should be with you in a hot flash.
While you wait, please enjoy this informative recording of some of our most frequently asked questions.
Q: What exactly is perimenopause?
Although women the world over experience perimenopause, the resources available to help them understand this completely natural period of transition are spotty at best. But there’s no reason for the process to be shrouded in euphemisms and superstitions.
In plain language, perimenopause refers to the epic journey that a woman undertakes in order to lift the monthly moon curse from her secret cave of delights and suffering. This curse was originally inflicted on women by an angry god as punishment for eating apples or being witches or some other bullshit excuse.
There are many milestones that may mark the beginning of the perimenopausal journey, but two of the most frequent ones are if a woman has been paid less than a man for doing the same job for at least twenty years OR cleaned up the equivalent of a fifty-gallon barrel of her family’s bodily fluids including any combination of snot, spit, vomit, blood, pus, urine, and poop (including both the diarrhea and non-diarrhea type).
After receiving the call to adventure, the woman packs a small fanny pack full of ibuprofen, puts on a pair of comfortable shoes, and departs her home in the lush but dangerous fertile valley where the entrance to her secret cave is always wet with dew, to walk across a dry desert of insomnia before finally arriving at a clear mountain stream of freedom from both the tampon tax and any possibility, even if it was vague, of an unwanted pregnancy.
Q: So menopause comes after perimenopause?
Yes. A woman is said to reach menopause when she hasn’t had a period for twelve consecutive months. You can remember this by considering that the word “menopause” comes from the Latin combination of meno (meaning “menses”) and pause (meaning, “the joy of no longer giving a fuck”).
Q: So what triggers perimenopause?
Perimenopause is triggered when your ovaries—or “pelvis chickens”—quit dependably laying eggs each month. Maybe some months they lay eggs, but other months they just sit on the couch, drinking a nice Malbec, eating corn nuts, and watching Better Call Saul while they halfheartedly fold half a laundry basket of clean towels.
During this time of increased ovarian laziness, your ovaries will also quit producing Vladimir and Estragon, the two hormones famously depicted by Samuel Beckett in his iconic play about the anxiety of waiting for a period that either never comes or comes unexpectedly while you are wearing white shorts and making your opening arguments before the United States Supreme Court (not before the current court of course, before a more legitimate one).
Q: Is memory loss a symptom of perimenopause?
Q: What is the average age for perimenopause?
The average age for perimenopause is whatever age you happen to be when you google any of the following:
- What age perimenopause?
- Skipped period start of menopause?
- Why do I have free floating rage?
Additionally, you may have started perimenopause if you call your mother or any older woman in your life to ask her what a hot flash feels like.
Q: What does a hot flash feel like?
A hot flash is a mildly uncomfortable sensation that feels like a new star is being born in your abdomen and all the heat from the explosion is radiating out of your face. Only hotter.
Q: What causes hot flashes?
Hot flashes are your body’s attempts to get closer to menopause by playing an elaborate game of “hot/cold.” The more hot flashes you have, the closer you are to menopause. Fun fact: Just before finally reaching menopause, you may glow in the dark. You might notice this when you are changing your sweat-soaked sheets in the middle of the night.
Q: How can I relieve the discomfort of hot flashes?
An inexpensive hand fan can be a stylish and simple solution to help you cool off if you’ve been banned from the local Dairy Queen for sneaking into their walk-in freezer, stripping down to your underwear, and eating all the dilly bars.
Q: Is memory loss a symptom of perimenopause?
Q: Besides hot flashes, what can I expect to feel during perimenopause?
Expect the unexpected. But also expect the expected, which may include sleep disturbance, night sweats, day sweats, sweatpants, longer cycles, microcycles, unicycles, breakthrough bleeding, cramps, sore breasts, loss of head hair, increase of chin hair, loss of sex drive, loss of societal value, and inexplicable irritability.
Q: Is that all?
No, also that thing that happens when you sneeze is going to get worse.
Q: Is memory loss a sign of perimenopause?
Q: Can I still get pregnant during perimenopause?
Yes. These are called change-of-life babies, and they are pyrokinetic.
Q: How can I relieve the symptoms of perimenopause?
Lifestyle changes such as suppressing your urge to complain and just sucking it up are often recommended, but there is little evidence that they actually help. Hormone therapy may alleviate some symptoms, but it may also significantly shorten your life expectancy depending on a complex interplay of factors that are not completely understood. So just, like, flip a coin or whatever.
Q: How long does perimenopause usually last?
This is hard to answer because historically it has been extremely difficult for doctors to pay attention to a perimenopausal woman for very long. In fact, researchers have not yet discovered what the evolutionary purpose of a perimenopausal woman might be, but some suggest that perhaps her purpose is to perform a large portion of the world’s unpaid labor.
Q: Are there any benefits to finally reaching menopause?
Are you kidding? No more periods. No risk of unplanned pregnancies. No fucks left to give, and wisdom out the ass. Menopause is freaking awesome.
Read an interview with Kathryn Baecht
about writing this piece over on our Patreon page.