What All Women Should Know About Perimenopause

I was 40 and had only stopped breastfeeding a year before. Didn't that mean hot flashes were a long way off?

Last fall, I found myself consistently getting overheated as I got my kids ready to leave for school and daycare every morning. By the time I was walking the kids, I wasn’t wearing a jacket, no matter how chilly the fall air was for everyone else. I thought I might just be experiencing anxiety, but when this was still happening in mid-winter, I started to wonder.

I’ve always run cold, you see. Cold fingers all day, even in the spring, cold toes throughout the entire winter, no matter how well-insulated my boots were (hi, and wearing Sorels? Still cold), and always, always wearing socks at night, when I went to sleep.

So, one morning when I was overheating I turned to my husband, who normally runs hot himself, and ask him if he was also feeling warm. I figured maybe our thermostat was just programmed at too high a temperature in the mornings.

“Uhh, no. I’m actually a little bit cool right now.”

“Weird. You’re always too hot. I wonder what the hell is going on with me?”

“Wait, you didn’t realize you’ve been having hot flashes this whole time?”

Cue dramatic sound effects. I stood there, stunned. That made absolutely no sense. I was 40 at the time and had only stopped breastfeeding a year before. Wasn’t I still in my child-bearing years? Didn’t that mean that hot flashes were still a long way off?


Once I began looking up other symptoms of perimenopause, I realized I was smack dab in the middle of it. According to this site, which specializes in helping women through perimenopause, most women begin to experience it in their mid-40s. I am here to call bullshit, or at least stick my hand in the air as one of the women who doesn’t fall into the “most women” category.

Ladies, according to Healthline, perimenopause can hit in your late 30s sometimes, and it ain’t pretty. Symptoms include, but aren’t limited to, all of these fun activities:

  • irregular periods (either in duration or heaviness)
  • irritability and mood swings (some of us were already irritable, so this can be a problem)
  • hot flashes (otherwise known as internal combustion)
  • night sweats (go to bed with socks on, wake up with nothing on!)
  • peeing your goddamn pants when you basically do anything
  • the complete inability to metabolize any food aside from lettuce

Sounds amazing, right? The “good” news is that you can experience perimenopause for up to 10 years before actual menopause hits. The good part of that news was that even if you start have some of these symptoms in your very early 40s, you are aren’t going to be going through menopause right away. The bad part was that you get to experience those symptoms for 10 years.

If you’re noticing any of these lovely symptoms, you may want to keep a journal of them and bring it to your doctor. I can’t guarantee that what you’re going through is perimenopausal, and if the symptoms are abnormal and impacting your ability to function, you should definitely get a medical professional to look into it. And if it actually is perimenopause?

Welcome to the club. Don’t hog the chocolate.




RELATED: How Your Hormones Are Affecting Your Sleep Quality

Glynis Ratcliffe used to be an opera singer, but after her daughter begged her to stop singing and be quiet for the millionth time, she decided to use her inside voice and write instead. Now, she’s a freelance writer with bylines at The Washington Post, Chatelaine, Lifehacker, and CBC, as well as being a copywriter and ghostwriter for clients in various industries.