Period chat has come a long way over the years. Today’s youth feel much more comfortable chatting to their parents about puberty and periods. And today’s parents are also much more open to having these conversations with their children. But what about perimenopause? How many of us are talking to our daughters about perimenopause and the menopause?
If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that the number is low. After all, us adults have only recently started talking more openly about perimenopause. It has long been a taboo subject, with women expected to suffer the symptoms in silence. Which is ridiculous considering it affects 50% of the population at some point in their lifetime.
In this article we look at 5 reasons why you should tell your daughter about perimenopause. But before we do, let’s have a quick reminder ourselves about what perimenopause is.
What Is Perimenopause?
People used to think that the menopause was merely a time when women stopped having periods and they got all hot and bothered. And whilst there is a little bit of truth in this (menopause is the day a woman hasn’t had a period for 12 months), the process of perimenopause which precedes menopause is way more involved than that.
Perimenopause (translating as ‘around the time of the menopause’) happens for about 8 to 10 years before menopause. It usually starts when a woman is in her mid-40s, however it can start earlier than this. This transitional stage sees a reduction in our hormone levels (oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone – yes women have that too!) which can affect us in varying ways. There are many different symptoms women can experience during perimenopause, but some perimenopausal symptoms are more common than others, for example: hot flushes, night sweats, anxiety, brain fog, and irregular periods.
All women go through it, but some women will suffer more than others. So, let’s take a look at the 5 reasons you should tell your daughter about perimenopause:
1. It’s Going To Happen To Her
As women we know that there are certain natural bodily functions that are going to happen to us throughout our lives. Of course, it’s not 100% written in stone, however for the most part we know that we will grow boobs, grow body hair, have periods, possibly have a baby, and then at some point our periods will stop. But what about the bit leading up to our periods stopping. How much does your daughter know about this?
One of the main reasons why it’s so important to tell your daughter about perimenopause is because at some point it is going to happen to her. And whilst we can’t know for sure what her perimenopause journey will be like, we do know that these things tend to be genetic. For example, daughters often start their periods around the same age that their mum did and they also tend to experience similar premenstrual symptoms as their mum too. Which means the odds are that she will also go through perimenopause at roughly the same age as her mum and will likely experience similar symptoms.
2. Knowledge Is Power
As with anything in life, the more we know about something the better we are able to cope with it. Forewarned is forearmed so to speak. So, if you are able to tell your daughter about the perimenopause; what it is, what she might go through, as well as the actions she can take to seek help, it will mean that when she reaches perimenopause for herself she will know what to do. As a mother you are equipping her with the knowledge she needs to help her navigate the sometimes tricky journey us women travel through life.
Telling your daughter about the perimenopause is equally as important as telling her about periods. If she has prior warning, there will be less of a shock when it happens to her. Depending on the age of your daughter, remember to use age-appropriate language so that she understands what you are telling her. And if she asks questions, answer them as honestly as you can. If you don’t know the answer, try and find out the answer together from a reputable internet source such as the NHS website.
3. It’s Better From You
We’ve all done it, right? You’re not feeling quite right, got a few different symptoms, but it doesn’t seem enough to worry your GP about, and so you turn to good old Dr Google. But looking up what could be wrong with you on the internet can send you down a rabbit hole of false diagnoses.
Perimenopause has a list as long as my arm of different symptoms associated with it. And much of those symptoms are shared by hundreds of other conditions. Now, obviously you can’t be expected to run through every single one of these symptoms with your daughter. It’s important to tell your daughter about perimenopause, but she certainly won’t be expecting a PowerPoint presentation on the subject!
Be as open and honest about your own experience of perimenopause and share any resources, like websites or books, that have helped you. Even by opening the conversation up slightly, it will show her that you are happy to talk about it and encourage her to come to you again should she have any questions in future.
4. To Prevent Her Feeling Scared
It can be scary when things suddenly start happening to us out of the blue. And considering perimenopause carries with it both physical and mental symptoms, it can be a huge worry when this hormonal shift affects how we go about our day-to-day lives.
Just as it would be scary for a teenage girl to get her first period without knowing anything about periods, heading into perimenopause and then onto menopause is equally as scary. When in actual fact, neither of things are anything to be scared about, so long as you know what they are.
Tell your daughter about perimenopause, so that she isn’t scared of what may happen to her when she’s older. Explain that all women go through these hormonal shifts, and that this is perfectly normal and natural and that she will come through the other side fine.
5. To Understand What You’re Going Through
It is highly likely that you will find yourself going through perimenopause at the same time your children are going through puberty. The hormones in your house are going to literally be everywhere for a while. And so, it’s really important that our daughters (and sons for that matter) understand what is happening to their mum, just as it’s important for you to know what is going on with them.
You may not be your usual self for a while, and they will definitely notice that. Perhaps you’re suffering from brain fog and you’re more forgetful and unorganised than usual. Or you might be more snappy and less approachable. Or maybe you’re more emotional and keep breaking out into floods of tears over the smallest of things. All of these things will be noticed and unless you explain why you’re suddenly like this, they’ll just steer clear and be none the wiser. It could really affect your relationship with them, as they may feel as though they have done something wrong or that they have upset you, which is why you’re being like this. When in actual fact, if you sat down and explained it to them, they’ll likely be understanding, compassionate, and a lot more tolerant of you!
Just like puberty and periods, perimenopause is a natural process, one that your daughter will go through at some point. Whether she sails through smoothly or has a few bumps along the way, only time will tell, but don’t you think it would be so much better if she knew some of the things that she could potentially experience later on in life?
It’s important to keep those lines of communication open, but also to be respectful of what teenagers want to know. Some may feel embarrassed about the subject, so tread carefully, but also explain that there is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. Let them ask questions. listen to them, and always give them the time they need.