I Didn’t Plan for Perimenopause

November 27, 2019.

Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a planner. In both my personal life and at work, planning is my thing. It makes me feel more settled and gives me a sense for what’s next. When I think things may not go according to plan A, I already have plan B and C lined up in my head.

But planning for perimenopause never occurred to me. Yes, I knew I’d eventually go through “the change,” but I did no research or reading, talked to no one and put nothing down on paper.

Completely unlike me.

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Limited Conversation

My lack of prep was partly due to the limited public conversation about perimenopause. It wasn’t top of mind. And, the seed had never been planted in the sex ed, biology or women’s health classes I took throughout school. The only thing I clearly remember about those lessons was the brown lunch bag of pads I was given to take home in fifth grade. And wanting to hide them away out of embarrassment – especially from the boys in my class.

Perimenopause Sneaked Up On Me

One of my first signs of perimenopause was an increase in migraine headaches that started in my early 40s. Anxiety then started showing up in new and different ways. Like that “something bad is going to happen” pit in my stomach that lasts for days.

Since the changes started gradually, I didn’t grasp that it was perimenopause instead of some other medical condition, being stressed or burnt out.

Unsettled by the Unknown

Your experience may have started with some of the more stereotypical symptoms of perimenopause, like hot flashes, irritability and irregular periods. But you still may have been surprised by how early the symptoms started. I felt caught off guard since I had slated hormonal changes for my 50s, not my 40s.

While the symptoms of perimenopause are challenging, I have found the unknown of it all to be even more unsettling.

Root to Rise Finally Sinks In

I’ve been doing Yoga with Adriene for over a year now and have probably heard her say “root to rise” more than 100 times. Call me a slow learner or a surface listener, but the concept just recently soaked in.

In yoga, “root to rise” means laying an intentional foundation, positioning whichever parts of you are touching your mat in a way that grounds you to expand your movements from that base.

The “root” of the saying makes me think of trees with deep and expansive networks of roots that help them stay standing throughout extreme weather conditions, like high winds or changing soil dampness. They don’t know what is coming their way, but they’ve done their best to prepare for it.

How I’m Rooting Myself

I’m doing the same to prepare for the unknowns of perimenopause by laying down a solid network of roots to ground me mentally. So far, my roots consist of a regular yoga practice, deep breathing exercises, meditation and talking to others about my experiences…to both share them and support other women.

As I’ve focused on my root system, I am happy to report that I have gotten rid of that awful pit in my stomach feeling that throws my thoughts onto a negative trajectory. I also don’t feel as hyper focused on the unknown and am better able to stay in the present moment instead of worrying about my future symptoms.

The trees provide a constant reminder to root to rise…and Adriene also reminds me regularly.

What’s your strategy for dealing with the unknowns of perimenopause? How do you root to rise?

Research Curation

In researching planning for perimenopause, a number of articles discussed contraception and fertility. Although important, they weren’t what I had in mind for this post.

Cleveland Clinic outlines five facts about perimenopause, including understanding it is a process that can last a decade or more, paying attention to your symptoms and that some of them may be unrelated to perimenopause, making lifestyle changes to make perimenopause easier, and considering hormone replacement therapy.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Women’s Health outlines three ways to know if you’re transitioning to menopause:

1. Symptoms – Like trouble sleeping and hot flashes

2. Irregular periods

3. Hormone levels – although hormone testing is noted as unreliable since hormone levels fluctuate during perimenopause

In searching for psychological prep for perimenopause, I found no concrete advice on the best approach. Rather, I found information on perimenopause’s psychological effects – like depression, anxiety, irritability, poor memory, and concentration.


About Cherie and Perimenopause Pages

It wasn’t until I was almost 46 that I started to realize many of the physical, psychological and mental changes I had been experiencing for a couple years were due to perimenopause. The more I read, the more I wanted to know and hear from other women.

But information was limited or outdated…and no one was talking about their experiences. I changed that by starting Perimenopause Pages. From preparing myself mentally for the changes of perimenopause to my increased odor, I’m putting my experiences out there to benefit other women – and work through them myself. I’m also researching as I go, curating what I find on a topic for all of us to learn more. There’s no need to cover up what’s happening with our minds and bodies, to minimize it or to be ashamed of it. Perimenopause is a fact of life. See what I’m up to and subscribe to Perimenopause Pages at https://perimenopausepages.com.

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Julia Walker
perry expert Julia (RN, BSN, BA) is a registered nurse based in Colorado. Julia's nursing background in women’s health has ranged from neonatal and postpartum care to labor and delivery, to outpatient gynecological medicine for both adolescent and adult populations. She specializes in helping women optimize their health during perimenopause and beyond.

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