Joan Taylor (5-Minute read)
Well, this is a topic that needs to be discussed. At least for those of us journeying through the ups and downs that come with the potential decade of perimenopause. And, isn’t it wonderful that this possible decade is just the appetiser for another potential decade of menopause.
Being a woman is stunning and I love being female, however, that being said, there are some challenging experiences that women walkthrough and for the most part alone. I think about my mother and grandmother and how difficult this season must have been for them. Our cycles have never been something that is discussed in open so for centuries, women have suffered in silence. I’m grateful for spaces like MoS and great friends who are willing to lift the cone of silence and talk about this stuff because it is, at times, freaking INSANE!
This article won’t offer much, if anything, in the way of advice or information about perimenopause (but those are coming) rather, it’s being shared to let you know that you aren’t alone and that crazy stuff is happening to all of us. Our hope is that you find comfort and maybe even joy in the stories we are about to share. Buckle up.
Story #1: The Flood
So this is a fun topic. And for any of us who understand what the word flooding actually means now we sit in awe of any woman over 45 who confidently wears white jeans, white dresses, pale colours on the bottom half of any description.
I remember being a young 20-something and listening to an older woman tell a story about being in a busy city and going to an appointment for work. She found herself alone in the lift and was flooding. She had no option but to put her hand into her pants, rip out her pad and as quickly as possibly pack another one in before the lift doors open. All the while, praying she had caught it in time and nothing had escaped onto her work suit.
I sat in awe and to be honest a little disgust listening to this story thinking, ‘come on, that’s ridiculous, just get your tampon in and go about your day.’ 20+ years on and now I GET IT. I’ve been where she’s been and flooding is no joke.
Being about 5 years into the perimenopause journey flooding is something I understand well. Most recently, I was at the movies and my period (which I hadn’t had for 3 months) was in full swing. It was heavy but manageable. I sat through the movie, laughed with confidence, squirmed around in my seat getting comfortable and all seemed to remain intact. The movie finished and I stood up to leave and that’s when it all became real. I flooded. Blood was pouring out of me. I could feel the front of my jeans being saturated and the squelch between my legs with every step I took was almost unbearable. Thankfully I had a shopping bag that became my shield.
When we got out of the dark cinema I asked my husband to do the obligatory back-end check to see if anything was on my butt. Thankfully, no, it had been contained to the front. I rushed into the bathroom and did my best to clean up what I could. I replaced the absolutely saturated surfboard pad that I had been wearing, with another 2 surfboard pads for added protection, picked up my shield (shopping bag) and headed out the face the exiting cinema traffic. As I approached my husband I moved the bag so he could get a good look at the stop sign that had become the front of my jeans. There was no hiding anything. I had flooded through like a dam that had been let out.
We both burst into laughter and headed to the car to make our way home for a much-needed shower on my part. I did comment to him that I was grateful that he ‘got it’ and although we can laugh right now, it’s not easy. None of it is. I reminded him that for whatever reason, my hormones were okay at the moment and gave way for laughter but the crazy train that I ride with them doesn’t mean that the next time this happens (if it does and if history is any predictor of the future, it definitely will) I will be able to laugh the same way. Hence the insanity of it all.
So, to all of my fellow ‘flooders’ out there. May you always have your shield and may you know that we are in this together, one saturated pad at a time and one super plus, plus, plus tampon every 20mins.
Story #2: The Vaginal Homicide
Part of the beauty of being in your 40’s is the confidence you finally have. For the most part and for many of my friends we realise we are no longer trapped by outward appearances. We look at one another so differently, we realise that we are warriors who have walked through some pretty incredible things whether it be marriage breakups, health challenges, difficult seasons with kids, it’s all of those things mixed together. There is a sense that we are united in love and support. It’s beautiful and something we wished had happened much earlier in life.
There’s also a body confidence that happens where you’re finally able to look at your stretch marks and be grateful for them. Your wrinkles tell you a story and your soft rolls make you comforting and safe rather than insecure and restless. Additionally, for many of us our sex drives have become something similar to a teenage boy which is funny because as we hit our sexual peak, our partners are usually slowing down. Interesting how that works.
Let the fun begin…..
So here’s what happened. My husband and I planned a night in the city. Hotel, dinner out, a bottle of champagne and on the list of things to do was, of course, having some great sex. I was super excited and ready for a good night. Pre-dinner sex was clearly on the books and a massage on the couch transitioned to a straddle and what was turning into great sex. As it went on, it became obvious that there was a lot of moisture happening which was unusual for both my husband and myself so we slowed down to have a quick peek and there it was a situation that I have now coined as ‘my vaginal homicide’.
I had bled all over my husband and by that I mean ALL OVER. I had gone from crazy satisfying, confident love maker to humiliated, embarrassed and even ashamed. I was hiding in the bathroom whilst he did his best to clean off the hotel couch. I stood in the bathroom, horrified and sad.
That was difficult to process. We laugh about it now and at the time my beautiful husband was his normal kind, gentle and caring self which helped heal my humiliated self. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened again and, if it does, we will handle it in the same way.
As mentioned earlier, this article is shared in an attempt to let you know that this stuff happens, the perimenopause journey is challenging. It’s up, it’s down, it’s flooding, its dry it feels never-ending, it’s scary because it’s all so unknown and at times you feel like everything is falling apart including your mind. Through MoS we will provide some information and articles from experts in this area and we will continue sharing lived experiences to you now you’re not alone.
Until next time. Happy flooding y’all.
(Make sure you check out other articles on MoS including a recent by co-founder, Philippa explaining the why behind the what of MoS ‘Praying a blessing over sex‘