Every woman will experience perimenopause during her life, unless she takes things into her own hands and has a sex-change operation. What is perimenopause? Is it the pause that refreshes? No, that’s Coca-Cola, the carbonated soft drink that’s sold in more than 200 countries.
Is it the pause before a penalty kick in soccer? No, that’s the paradinha (pronounced “Simon BO-li-var”) which is used to throw off a goalie’s timing.
Even top-ranked doctors at the Mayo Clinic are unclear about perimenopause. They say it’s the stage during which a woman’s body begins its transition to menopause, and that it can last anywhere from two to eight years, plus the first year after a woman’s last period. Try that degree of precision on your wife sometime.
HUSBAND: Hi honey, I’m about to leave the office.
WIFE: So should I start the butterfly leg of lamb with roasted red peppers and blanched asparagus with almonds?
HUSBAND: Let’s see, if I make the 5:30 train I should be home anywhere from two to eight hours later. Or it could take an hour longer, depending on my hormones.
WIFE: (. . .) I’m ordering Chinese.
When you do an image search on the internet for “perimenopause” you get some weird results. Women pressing their temples in obvious distress, women hiding under the covers, women making little church-and-steeples with their hands while they contemplate how much time they’d have to serve under federal sentencing guidelines if they terminated one out of 2.3 children.
I don’t claim to know much about perimenopause, other than what I’ve learned first hand and, like a latter-day Will Rogers, what I read on the internet.
Here for your peace of mind is a summary of the causes and symptoms of perimenopause, so you can spot them before someone you love advances on you with an unregistered firearm:
Hot flashes: Women may complain of hot flashes during perimenopause, forgetting that heat is a good thing. You’ve probably heard the phrase “more light than heat,” referring to something like a sparkler that produces a gaudy flash but little warmth, unlike a barrel of heating oil. In order to avoid hot flashes, some doctors recommend that women forego coffee and alcohol. That’s when things get really hot.
Changing cholesterol levels: During perimenopause, women may experience an increase in “bad” cholesterol and a decrease in “good” cholesterol, while “indifferent” cholesterol just sits there like a bump on a log reading the paper or watching sports highlights over their shoulders.
Changes in sexual function: During perimenopause, sexual arousal and desire may change. If a woman had a prior satisfactory history of sexual intimacy, but after the onset of perimenopause begins to reproduce asexually like some komodo dragons, consult a veterinarian, and be sure it’s one who doesn’t work at the Mayo Clinic.
Questions your doctor may ask you: Be prepared for a number of nosy questions from your doctor, including the following:
- How ’bout them Red Sox?
- Do you have insurance?
- We’re short of tongue depressors. Is it all right if I use my Creamsicle stick?
Most importantly, you should not lose hope. In just a few short years perimenopause will be over, with its wild mood swings, night sweats and hot flashes.
And then things get worse.