Dispatches From Perimenopause
I'm so glad y'all brought this up! Aside from the pandemic, I'd guess perimenopause is the topic I've brought up most in conversations with friends the past year or two. I want us all to talk about it! I'm curious about who is experiencing what and I just want to normalize everything and make sure people have the info they need.
What Fresh Hell Is This? by Heather Corinna is an amazing resource. I've referred back to is so many times since reading it over the summer. The author is a queer nonbinary sex educator and there's a chapter from a trans woman, making for a super inclusive read. Plus, their tone is funny and relatable! Jen Gunther's The Menopause Manifesto came out a week or two before What Fresh Hell Is This? but I set it aside after four chapters due to her gender essentialist language choices. I may refer back to specific sections since she's a doctor offering medical advice but it's not a book I'll be able to widely recommend so I don't see the point in reading it from cover to cover. (Saying this as a cis woman.)
Personally, I'm looking forward to menopause. I have endometriosis and I don't plan on having any kids. I'm so ready to be done with periods!
The books I've been ambling through, as I amble toward menopause, are Jen Gunther's Menopause Manifesto (excellent for very solid evidence- and science-based information, with a feminist bent) and Heather Corinna's What Fresh Hell Is This (wonderful for being more gender inclusive, for the hilarious and sometimes-exasperated tone, and for how it doesn't make me feel like a freak for not being a cishet-woman-with-children person who menstruates and one day will stop menstruating).
One aspect of the menopause transition that doesn't sit really well with me, because of my circumstances, is how it's often framed as "the end of fertility." And a lot of ink/pixels are spilled in addressing that, and providing solidarity and support and reassurance around mourning the end of fertility. For an infertile person like myself, and probably for lots of other folks (the childfree by choice, the childless by circumstance, trans men and enby and genderqueer folks, people with various medical/physical circumstances, etc.), this isn't the "end" of fertility. It's something I'm still unpacking my own feelings around, but definitely worth keeping in mind -- and something that reminds ME that there are probably ways *I* talk about menopause (and menstruation, and gender, and everything else) that are alienating to *someone* and to be vigilant about that. So thank you Dames and Dame-adjacent friends, for being open and compassionate and vigilant about this conversation! 🙏😊
Really enjoyed this issue. Want to add, as a postmenopausal cis white woman reporting from the other side: Sex got better after menopause. Probably a combination of no more fear of pregnancy and greater feelings of intimacy with my long-term partner (lucky in that respect). And lube. Everyone needs lube! 😃