[This post is about women's reproductive systems. If it makes you uncomfortable, get a life. You wouldn't have a life without it whether you are a man or woman!]
As embarrassing as this is to admit, I didn't really understand human fertility until I was 30 and Adam and I decided we were ready to have children. But I know I am not alone. Many of my infertility clients admit the same.
Most of us grow up thinking if you EVER have unprotected sex, you will get pregnant. But the truth is, there are only about 2-3 fertile days every month!
Similarly, I never understood the menopause process until I hit 40 and entered into perimenopause. I thought you just go from having your usual menstrual cycle to missing periods, to complete absence of periods, and that this would all happen around age 50. HA!
Man, we women have it rough. It is so much longer a process, and far less pleasant!!
The first shock for me was that instead of periods just getting lighter until they disappear, it is often the opposite. I always had long, irregular cycles, about 40-50 days. Now, they are 28-32 days, and very very heavy. Ugh! Also, more cramping. As I write this, my poor ovaries are aching and the Advil is calling my name. Not only that, but I now get ovulation pain midway through each cycle. I NEVER had that before kids. Its infuriating as having shorter, more predictable cycles, and being able to feel myself ovulate would certainly have been helpful when I was trying to conceive. Now its just unpleasant.
Oh, and I can't forget about the acne I get regularly, that I never had during my teens. Lovely. This month I also had like 5 days of breast tenderness, which is a symptom I never experienced when I was younger. Workouts this week have had to avoid jumping because...ouch!
Despite all my complaints, I know I've gotten off relatively easy. One friend of mine just had a partial hysterectomy because of all the problems she was having. Another was put on birth control to manage her extreme suffering, and from the meds she developed blood clots in her lungs and ended up in the hospital. Holy crap!
Even more awesome is the fact that this can all go on a good 10 years before women actually hit menopause (defined by a complete absence of menses for a year). Once that happens, there are a whole other set of potential unpleasant symptoms.
I have little sympathy for any man who complains about getting a vasectomy.
The best way to manage perimenopausal symptoms are the following:
- Exercise regularly (it helps regulate hormones and manage anxiety and elevate mood)
- Maintain a healthy weight (excess fat tissue increases estrogen)
- If you are noticing your body temperature increase or are starting to get hot flashes, dress in layers, and sleep in a cool environment
- Get enough sleep (insufficient sleep affects mood, depletes resilience to stress, leads to weight gain, and messes up hormones)
Well, there is never a good time for one's period, but given how busy our weekend is, its definitely a bad time. My parents are coming tomorrow to stay with us, I have to work tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday. The girls have 500 activities, birthday parties, etc. and I have a party for some friends...but I am doubting with everything else I will even be able to drop by. There will be absolutely no time to just lie on the couch with a hot water bottle!
The one thing I will be doing is getting out for a run, something I rarely ever do. Since my parents will be here, though Adam will be out at the gym early tomorrow morning, I can leave the house and enjoy some exercise in the nice weather. I hope you get out and have a happy, healthy weekend too!